2010 May Be The Year Of The Obacklash
It looks like the coming year may be what Queen Elizabeth famously called an “annus horribilis” for President Obama.
First, yet another of his nominees is showing signs of an incomplete or sloppy vetting process:
The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show.
The disclosure comes as pressure builds from Democrats on Capitol Hill for quick January confirmation of Erroll Southers, whose nomination has been held up by GOP opponents. In the aftermath of an attempted airline bombing on Christmas Day, calls have intensified for lawmakers to install permanent leadership at the TSA, a critical agency in enforcing airline security.
Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as “inadvertent” and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a “grave error in judgment” in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife’s new boyfriend.
The next hit comes from Janet Napolitano’s noteworthy “the system worked” comment… even some Democrats are now starting to call for her to step down:
New Jersey State Senate President Richard Codey, a Democrat, wrote a letter to Napolitano this week calling on her to step down. He said Napolitano, an attorney and former Arizona governor, does not have the experience for the post she is in.
“We should have someone who doesn’t need to go in there and learn about terrorism, learn about security,” Codey told Fox News. “How close were these 300 people on this plane from losing their lives because homeland security broke down? Boy, it was really close.”
The Department of Homeland Security was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and has grown into one of the largest Cabinet departments in the federal government. Charged with keeping the nation safe from terrorist attacks and responding to natural disasters, it covers the TSA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a slew of other agencies.
Codey said a candidate “well-versed” in intelligence should step into the job.
Democratic strategist Dan Gerstein also said Napolitano’s response to the incident should be the last straw.
“I tend to think she will be pushed out in the next couple of months,” Gerstein, a former adviser to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said.
For now, the administration says it has absolute confidence in Napolitano. She is an active part of the internal review and on Thursday took additional steps to improve security at international airports.
And the third, and possibly the worst blow to Mr. Obama appears to be coming from his own left flank.
Sifry dismisses the myth that Obama campaign used the Internet to attract legions of volunteers who were then empowered to do more indpendently of the traditional central campaign headquarters, saying “nor, it is clear, was Obama’s campaign ever really about giving control to the grassroots. As Zephyr Teachout wrote here a while back, the campaign shared tasks with its supporters but didn’t share power.
“In some notable cases, volunteers were given substantial responsibilities in the field, and access to more data than would typically be shared by most top-down organizations. But in terms of empowering anyone, Obama’s campaign structure empowered its managers more than anyone else.”
Understand that Sifry is a man of the Left, not the Right. He’s a co-founder of the PDF and is editor of Tech President. He’s also been instrumental in helping grow the Sunlight Foundation and the proliferation of important New Media-focused groups it has spawned like the Open House Project that are devoted to encouraging greater transparency and accountability in government through the Internet and related technologies.
And along the same lines, from a lefty blogger:
I think that is exactly right, and the needle in much of the activist base is moving from “demotivated” to downright demoralized and antagonistic. Yet Obama and his administration, notably Rahm Emanuel, indignantly continue to poke sticks in the eyes of the activist base and boast about it; and it is not from necessity, it is from design and pleasure.
Quite frankly, the seeds of this should have been seen coming. I have never forgotten the shudders I felt when I read two interrelated articles by Matt Stoller and David Dayen discussing how, heading into the 2008 general election, Obama was not just benefitting from, but devouring and commandeering broad swaths of Democratic base activist groups and their power, and actively working to marginalize and cripple those that didn’t assimilate into his Borg.
To put it bluntly, the wheels are starting to come off Obama’s presidency. While it may be good for the GOP, it’s not good for the nation as a whole.