The Schoen-Caddell Two-Step

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 21 2011 @ 11:13am

Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell are the Fox News Democrats and are about as representative of Democrats as a whole as Mickey Kaus. But note one thing about their analysis: it puts the entire blame on Obama for the current fiscal and political impasse and none on the GOP; and its logic would merely reward Republicans for total obstructionism. Money quote:

One year ago in these pages, we warned that if President Obama continued down his overly partisan road, the nation would be "guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it." The result has been exactly as we predicted: stalemate in Washington, fights over the debt ceiling, an inability to tackle the debt and deficit, and paralysis exacerbating market turmoil and economic decline.

Now ask yourself for a minute: who, outside Fox News contributors, genuinely believe that the polarization we are now experiencing is a direct result of president Obama rather than the Republicans? The polling shows the public believes Obama has been readier to compromise. To put the entire blame for polarization on Obama – at a time when the GOP has refused any net revenue increases at all – is insane. Note also this misleading claim:

President Obama is now neck and neck with a generic Republican challenger in the latest Real Clear Politics 2012 General Election Average (43.8%-43.%).

And at 9 percent unemployment and the worst recession since the 1930s, this is bad? Even Rasmussen shows him besting a generic Republican. And he's showing new life: In this month alone, Obama has gone from 3 points behind to one point ahead in the RCP poll of polls. But even '90s neo-libs like Scoen and Caddell know that with structural unemployment, a draw like this shows remarkable candidate strength, not weakness. And when you look at the more specific polling, you find that Obama beats every single GOP nominee right now. His lead is 1.4 percent over Romney, 8.5 percent over Gingrich and 9 percent against Cain and Perry. A president with 9 percent unemployment leading most GOP rivals by 8 points or more is not a lame duck by any means.

Schoen and Caddell suffer from the post-traumatic stress disorder of the 1990s Democrats.

Convinced they can never win on what they believe in, they always stress capitulation either to Republican orthodoxy, or to Republican will-power. And they actually seem to believe that the hard right – from Limbaugh to Levin, from Krauthammer to Kristol – would not return to the Clinton demonization of the 1990s. Do either of them remember what was said and done about her last time around?

The answer is not to cave to GOP demands that the only group not to sacrifice in the coming austerity should be the very wealthy and successful; it is to make the case for balanced sacrifice, including serious entitlement and defense cuts and an overhaul of the tax code to remove almost all deductions. Obama can and should run on this blend. And polls suggest it is overwhelmigly more popular than a debt-reduction that would represent another gift from young to old and from poor to super-rich.