During Friday's presidential press conference, ABC's Jake Tapper asked the president to comment on why "the only Democrats I’ve seen talking about health care legislation are running TV ads saying that they voted against it." Obama shrugged it off as politics as usual: "You know, that's -- that's how political races work."
If that's true, Democrats are working hard to perfect the political game.
As a new New York Times article points out, Democrats are jumping ship on their party's agenda. "Two years after arriving in Washington on a message of hope and change," it points out, "Democratic candidates are not extolling their party’s accomplishments, but rather distancing themselves from their party’s agenda."
Nowhere is that seen better than in Democratic campaign ads, which show "all the ways [Democrats] are trying to personalize their contests and avoid being defined as ideological partners of President Obama’s or as part of the Washington establishment."
According to the article, the Times reviewed hundreds of campaign ads broadcast over the last six weeks. Among its findings are Republicans were more than twice as likely as Demcrats to talk about jobs; Republicans also mentioned health care far more than Democrats did; and when Democrats do bring up the health care issue, 38 percent of the commercials are critical of the new law.
“I’ve said no to more government spending, no to President Obama’s big health care plan, and no to Wall Street bailouts,” says Representative Walt Minnick (D-ID) in one ad. He's considered a "blue dog" democrat by some.
Iowa Democratic governor Chet Culver asks voters for a second chance after "honest mistakes":
And Congressman Glenn Nye of Virginia touts the fact that he "stood up" to his party's leaders:
All the far-as-the-east-is-from-the-west distancing comes from the frustration of the American people. Almost any poll one looks at shows that voters are upset with President Obama and think the country and economy are on the wrong track. Even more upsetting to voters may be the president's comments that such a distancing could be just for political reasons, instead of a gravitation toward recognizing genuine concerns.
Suzanne Kosmas, a Congressional candidate in Florida, tries to echo the country's, and her constituents', frustration:
But lacking in all the talk of dumping the Democratic agenda is why it is so surprising that current and potential leaders would adopt the sentiments of their constituents, instead of adhere to party lines with fervor. Politicians, after all, are elected to enact the will of the people.
The fact that such a concept is so foreign could mean a shake up in November.
Another popular Democrat distancing himself from Obama and his party is Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. A quick visit to his website highlights the trend. The two most prominent headlines are "Feingold is more loyal to Wisconsin than to presidents" and "Feingold will be in Senate when Obama is in Madison." Both brag that Feingold stayed in Washington while Obama touted his economic agenda in Wisconsin.
In fact, the first article goes as far as to call Feingold a "maverick," the title popularized by Republican John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign.
True to form, he touts his vote against the controversial bank bailouts: