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Obama saw his supporters “like a tiger you can’t control”

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Jon Schwarz

So while the Democratic party itself would have been much more powerful overall if Obama had kept his grassroots mobilized and involved, Obama himself and his most important donors and supporters would have been less powerful within the Democratic party. So Obama let the enthusiasm and activism surrounding his candidacy dissipate, all his supporters stayed home in 2010 and Obama’s party suffered a catastrophic collapse.

But from Obama’s perspective, so what?

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Submitted by lambert on

.... is that after voters through Coakley under the bus, and the short interregnum of Scott Warren, we got Elizabeth Warren who is imperfect, of course, but far, far better than a colorless apparatchik like Coakley would have been (the Attorney General who took $20 million in fines (IIRC) of Goldman Sachs, and then didn't run as a populist. In 2010.

Vindicates everything the Down with Tyranny people have been saying for years.

Submitted by lambert on

Schwarz quotes this article from the Nation:

Ganz explains how Obama moved from a "transformational" leader during the campaign to a "transactional" politician as president. Some of that, of course, was to be expected—candidates need to inspire while presidents have to govern. Governing, by nature, is often transactional. Nonetheless, transformational leaders find a way to get beyond transactional politics, Ganz argued, pointing to Ronald Reagan as a prime example. "Reagan shows exactly how to govern, which is aligning yourself with a movement outside Washington that is capable of mobilizing pressure on forces inside Washington so that you can change the rules of the game." That was also the model Obama promised to follow during the campaign, but has yet to really test as president. He played by the conventional Washington rules instead of trying to change them.

"He shifted from a politics of advocacy to compromise," Ganz says. Once inside the White House, Obama viewed his own grassroots organization "like a tiger you can't control." The attitude toward his supporters changed from "Yes We Can" to "Yes I Can."

Yet for all the roads not taken, Obama’s political problems are, in large part, the result of a sour economy. But Ganz believes the president could’ve used the economic crisis to his advantage—as a mass teachable moment about the importance of government in a time of need. "If Obama has come in and taken control of the economic crisis, in the same way he dealt with the race issue during the campaign," Ganz argues, the Tea Party would not have flourished. But instead there existed a vacuum, and the Tea Party’s anti-government rage filled it up. It remains to be seen just how much longevity the Tea Party will have. "It’s more of a death rattle than a victory cry," Ganz said, the last gasp of a dying demographic.

So I don't think anybody from the Obama camp actually used the "tiger" phrasing, though clearly as a vivid metaphor for what happened it's right.