THE STUMP DECEMBER 14, 2011
Noam's post this afternoon on the White House's belated revelation about Republican intransigence reminded of another interesting item from yesterday's briefing with the Obama reelection team, their response to a good question from the Boston Globe's Glen Johnson asking how the Obama crew viewed things proceeding in 2013, assuming their optimistic projections proved correct and Obama won a second term. Would an Obama victory, Johnson asked, do anything to change the dysfunctional state of affairs in Washington?
David Axelrod answered that it would, because an Obama victory would send a thunderclap through the GOP ranks, signalling that obstructionism had failed, giving a lift to those few Republicans who have been discomfited by the nihilism on display since 2009. "There are some Republicans who like to see progress," he said. An Obama victory would end "this reign of terror going on where you have to genuflect to Grover Norquist and the rest." It would, he said, be "a liberating thing for those Republicans of good will," a "repudiation of the politics of destruction." Republicans would "take a good look [at the result] and turn to the people calling the shots and say, we tried it your way, now let's try ours." There would still be plenty of opposition, as in any two-party system, but it would no longer be as "gratuitous and reflexive."
What are we make to make of this? On its face, it would seem to suggest the same kind of naive optimism that led the White House to believe it would be able to bridge the divides back in 2009. But is there something to it? Is there reason to believe such a break could occur? It seems as if it would depend greatly on who the losing Republican nominee was; if it was Mitt Romney, there would of course be plenty of Republicans concluding that the problem had simply been one of insufficient conservative enthusiasm. Or maybe this is just something Axelrod feels bound to say when confronted with this question, because the campaign has to project at least some smidgen of the hopefulness that fueled it in 2008?
I'm curious what you all make of this. I also want to say quickly how glad I am to have Noam back on board with the blog. As I mentioned in my debut post back in Septemeber, one of the things that drew me to the magazine in the first place was Noam's terrific blogging on the Stump back in the 2008 campaign, so it'll be great to be sharing the task with him. And since the demands of the Stump may be ever so slightly eased for me now, I can announce that I today took on a new time-devourer to make up the balance: I've belatedly joined Twitter, @AlecMacGillis.