Politico: Obama Isn’t Playing The Game, So He Won’t Get Reelected

Politico: Obama Isn’t Playing The Game, So He Won’t Get Reelected


Ready for an exercise in tortured logic? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Pay especially close attention to Roger Simon’s last paragraph:

Honest to goodness, the man just does not get it. He might be forced to pull a Palin and resign before his first term is over. He could go off and write his memoirs and build his presidential library. (Both would be half-size, of course.)

I am not saying Obama is not smart; he is as smart as a whip. I am just saying he does not understand what savvy first-term presidents need to understand:

You have to stay on message, follow the polls, listen to your advisers (who are writing the message and taking the polls) and realize that when it comes to doing what is right versus doing what is expedient, you do what is expedient so that you can get reelected and do what is right in the second term. If at all possible. And it will help your legacy. And not endanger the election of others in your party. And not hurt the brand. Or upset people too much.

So because Obama is trying to do what he promised voters, to change the tone in Washington and be honest with Americans, he’s doomed to fail.

Don’t think that’s what Simon is saying?

Well, here ya go…

The problem for Obama is that he appears to have taken seriously all the “change” stuff he promised during his campaign. And he has been unable to make the transition from candidate to president.

By the way, who controls whether or not stories like the Ground Zero mosque get attention? Hint: it ain’t the politicians.

Basically, “Listen kid, play by the rules and act the way we think you should act or else we will tear you to shreds for doing something we don’t expect.”

By the way, Obama has said repeatedly that he’d rather be a one term president and do the right things then be the type of two term ideologue that Simon describes. And while I’d hate to see him lose in 2012, I find that sentiment to be spot on. So whether you agree with the point that Obama has conducted himself differently than other presidents, I hope we can agree that you can’t change things by being the same.

So, the questions are…will Washington ever make any headway when it comes to reform if the media is this cynical? Or was Simon just playing coy with this editorial and thinks Obama should continue to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t get him reelected? I can hear a whisper of that in his piece, but perhaps it wasn’t intentional.

Sound off!

  • Bruce

    SO what’s been Obummer’s Change, CHUMPS?

  • Chris

    I don’t see Obama as doing the right thing many times, but nor do I see him as an ideologue. I also don’t think that his lack of attention to polls and the “message” matters at all right now. If he wants to get reelected in 2012, he has 2 more years to manipulate his public image if he desires.

    All he has to do is repeat terror and 9/11 several thousand times, heck it works for the republicans.

  • Dustin

    I think you missed page two of that article Justin.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner

    Dustin, I don’t think Simon is strong enough with that whisper (which I mention in my post). Especially when Simon himself has traded in exploitive stories like this before. Is this a commentary on his profession? A pox on the media? Basically, he knows how this game works and if he’s lifting the veil on how ignorant and uninterested the media is in the truth and how interested they are in controversy…let’s please state that as plain as day.

  • Alistair

    You know Justin this reminds me the way the press treated Bill Clinton & Ronald Regan in their first term in which they all said that they were going to be one term Presidents. In fact Clinton was really suppose to be a one term President because he didn’t full fill his campaign promises like President Obama has in his first term like getting Health Care reformed passed, Wall Street Reformed passed. Some cases they want Obama to kiss their butts just to please their interest instead of what’s good for the country.

  • Robert J. Hoffman

    If Obama keeps running the printing presses and spending like he has for two more years there won’t be any country left for a second term. The USA will be bankrupt and our creditors will take ownership.

  • Chris

    Running the printing presses? I’m not familiar with what that’s supposed to mean. But the rest of that statement is too dumb to comment on.

  • http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/ mw

    There is no whisper here – Simon is shouting his message with a megaphone – and you still completely miss the point of his column. Well that is not true, you sort of get it in your comment:

    “…if he’s lifting the veil on how ignorant and uninterested the media is in the truth and how interested they are in controversy…let’s please state that as plain as day.”– jg

    That is exactly what he is doing. You can call it satire, or you can call it sarcasm, but every single word of Simon’s column is dripping with it – from the title to the last sentence. It is not even subtle – it is as heavy handed and obvious as it is possible to write. I can’t understand how it can be missed. You’ve got have blinders on the size of Cleveland to misunderstand his intent so completely. Apparently, as also indicated in your comment, your pre-conceived notions about what you expect from Simon is what blinded you to what he is actually saying.

    The problem with your complaint about stating it “plain as day”, is that is kind of the opposite of sarcasm or satire. Cripes, this is like telling Jonathon Swift that he is a monster for seriously suggesting the English should eat Irish children to solve their poverty problem (see ‘A modest proposal’)

    Go back and re-read the column – slowly, carefully, and with an open mind. You will actually enjoy it – as did I.

  • theWord

    and my guess is you were silent when Reagan and W were doing it for no valid reason. At least Obama’s doing it because some intelligent people who might be right or wrong are suggesting it is the right thing to do. One of the main complaints are that it was too timid.

  • blackout

    MW, I agree with you to the extent that Simon clearly seems to be on the side of sticking to principles and public opinion be damned, but his piece is hardly worthy of the term satire, and there are enough moments where it’s hard to tell if he’s being sarcastic or simply preaching pragmatism that I see exactly why Justin took it the way he did. I don’t think it’s especially well-crafted.

    I also completely disagree with your response to Justin regarding his quote. Simon may take the public and pols to task for their disregard for principle and ‘truth’ in the name of ideology, but I found it worth noting that there was little reference to the role of media in playing the game.

  • http://www.donklephant.com Justin Gardner


    Come on now. We’ve all read Swift’s piece and it’s a masterwork. It’s also completely obvious that it is satire.

    To me, Simon’s attempt is muddled, especially when you take into account who he is, what he has started with Politico and how they contribute to exactly what Simon is supposedly bemoaning.

    Also, do you REALLY think that Simon doesn’t believe that, in order to win a second term, Obama shouldn’t do exactly what he’s describing a two term president should do? We all know Swift wouldn’t eat children, but Simon and Politico feasts daily on Obama’s supposed blunders. Huge difference there and the messenger matters just as much as the message when it comes to satire.

  • kranky kritter

    Anyone ever watch “The Wire.”? Simon is the old-timer, talking about “the game.” The game never change, dog. That why it the game.

    I agree that Simon’s piece takes a tone that makes his message one that has to be pulled out. If his message were as plain as MW says, then everyone would have gotten it right away. That’s what “plain message” means.

    But I agree that it’s hard to mistake the message if you give it a little thought. I think Obama used the political capital he took office with to get through a couple of the things he wanted. But mostly one, HCR. And as it turned out, he had to use almost all of it, and he still had to take what he could get from congress. Everyone is free to dislike the result, but I think it’ was defensible to take what he can get as opposed to doing nothing in the hopes of somehow “getting it right” later.

    IMO, a President’s best chance to make substantial changes almost always comes in the first 2 years of the first term. 2 years in, Obama’s mandate capital is gone, and we’re into the re-election campaign. If Obama gets re-elected, he’s a lame duck the next day in the minds of all of the powerful and ambitious folks seeking the throne or deciding who to back next.

  • blackout

    KK, the Wire is a good reference point, as the show happily illustrated the way in which politics used social ills as a lever and foil for self-advancement, rather than using politics as a tool/mechanism to address social ills. How can I make it look like I’m doing something about this problem until I can move up and rung and it’s not my problem any more? lol

    And unlike Simon’s article, the series made sure to include the media’s complicity in The Game.

  • http://theapathyremedy.org SpkTruth2Pwr

    Great write-up. I think people fail to realize what Obama has actually accomplished in relation to his campaign promises and policy priorities, in spite of them being as far away from an easy victory as you could possibly get.

    I respect the fact that he seems to put his principles first rather than his “party”. Maybe change really can begin somewhere. If everyone remains a skeptic or a cynic, then no one will ever even believe their choices and actions can make a difference. Which is dangerous. I appreciate him for trying, even if it continues to diminish his chances for a 2012 win.