The panelists on The Chris Matthews Show were all in agreement this week. President Obama needs to throw Congressional Democrats under the bus, punch down the hippies in his base a few times, preach some austerity during his State of the Union address and work with those nice reasonable Republicans. If he does that, all will be well with his chances for re-election.
MATTHEWS: John I guess that's the question. What's his biggest challenge though? Holding the center as he began to do at the end of last year with this deal or keep the left which is a bit unhappy with him lately?
HEILEMANN: Uh, well that's the easiest question you've asked me in a long time Chris. I mean he needs the...
MATTHEWS: Thank you.
HEILEMANN: He already, forget the... Congressional Democrats are already mad at him for various reasons. Who cares about those people. He has a huge support among the actual members of his base, African American voters, Latino voters, self described liberals, actual people in the country, they like the president and he's got a very high approval rating with them. The base is not his problem. The problem is winning back all those independent voters who shifted to the Republicans in the 2010 election and he can do that. The unemployment rate is obviously important over the course of the first year... this next year. But he's got a bunch of big agenda items that are perfectly tailored to getting back independents. He wants to do deficit reduction, he wants to do education, he wants to do trade, he wants to do tax reform. Those are all things he can get Republicans to work with him on and in the process do himself a world of good politically...
HEILEMANN: ...and get himself well set for the next election.
MATTHEWS: ...you're saying one of the advantages of cutting deals with Republicans is they can't call you a Socialist any more?
BORGER: Right, they can't call you a Socialist any more although there will be some Republicans in the new Congress who are not going to like the deals that the other Republicans cut so he's still going to have those problems but they will make him look good by the way. And he will be able to triangulate and look like the grown up which is by and large what people want. (crosstalk)
O”DONNELL: I definitely think he's got to go for the center and that industrial heartland where I grew up and spent a lot of time back in the 2010 mid-term campaign season...
MATTHEWS: Uh. Where is that exactly? The industrial heartland?
O'DONNELL: For me it's Cleveland Ohio.
MATTHEWS: It's somewhere between Scranton and Oshkosh.
O'DONNELL: Exactly. And when I met a lot of voters there there was a sense of disappointment and frustration and he can really go after them, more than just the campaign visits which he's done a lot of but things like working with Republicans in attacking these issues like debt and trying to deal with jobs. That's the kind of thing that he can at least be on the high ground.
MATTHEWS: Andrew you're quiet. (crosstalk) Left or center? Where's the action for him? (crosstalk) His third year is the critical year. We've seen it with Reagan. We've seen it with Carter. Carter didn't have a good third year. He couldn't put it together. What adjustments does he have to make to hold the center?
SULLIVAN: I think he has to remain the president that he has always been. Unfortunately the left kept projecting stuff onto him that he wasn't and the right kept projecting stuff onto him that he wasn't. The great thing about having the Republican House is that you see Obama's greatest strength which has always been from Harvard Law review on, talking reasonably with conservatives. He's actually temperamentally... he likes that.
SULLIVAN: He's actually very good at that. He exudes reasoning. The tax deal he cut at the end of last year was the new Obama and it was the old Obama, but it was the new one because finally he was liberated it seemed to me in being the president he wants to be. Remember he didn't really want the stimulus package. He didn't expect when he ran for president he'd have the worst depression in the world. He had to spend that money. The health care reform, in that context has been skewed as a big spending liberal. But he's not a big spending liberal, never was and he wants tax reform and debt for the reasons that he always said. Now the key thing is that he owns it. The State of the Union will be his moment.
BORGER: Oh... huge.
SULLIVAN: If he puts debt first and tax reform second, simplify your taxes and reduce the debt and has Republican support, he diffuses all the demonization of him from the right and he knocks out the left.
Just more of the notion that the Very. Serious. (and Reasonable) People. are all in the center. Funny how all those "centrist" concerns sound awfully conservative. And after their little hippie-punching exercise, they finally managed to dance around the real reason Obama might end up looking good after a couple of years of the Republicans running the House: he'll look reasoned and sane in comparison. But they don't just come out and admit the fact that the Republican Party is completely bats**t crazy and has no one left in their party that cares one iota about governing any more. They also didn't bring up the fact that after a couple of years of endless witch hunts by Darrell Issa and some of the other committees in the House, the public may have had a belly-full of Republicans as well.