Is Obama throwing Pelosi and Reid under the bus? Yes, this column is a real exercise in cynicism. But in the world of politics and its big-boy nastiness, it's entirely possible that's it's true, nevertheless.
I learned during the years of Newt Gingrich's control of Congress that it's a lot easier for an incumbent to win the White House when there's somebody else to blame for his and the nation's ills.
Look at the polling. President Obama and the Democrats in Washington already weren't faring very well when the president chose to publicly defend the proposed construction of an "Islamic community center" -- aka a mosque -- just a few blocks from the destruction of the World Trade Centers. Once he did that, those polling numbers tumbled some more. Then Obama made it even worse for himself by "clarifying" his statements, which consisted of him basically reiterating his position.
Harry Reid in particular went ballistic. With his own re-election campaign in Nevada in jeopardy, the Senate majority leader had to openly distance himself from the president.
Since that day, the president has seemingly gone out of his way to say things, or to have his administration do things, that only deepen the hole he and the Democrats are in. He has taken an inflexible stand against extending the George W. Bush tax cuts. His White House has leaked memos about alternative ways to keep illegal immigrants stateside. He's appeared at a town hall meeting and gone away utterly embarrassed. It seems that Obama has made all the right moves to benefit one person -- Barack Obama.
I'll grant that my view may be unsurprising coming from someone who wrote a book called "Paranoid Nation" -- someone utterly cynical about politicians. But this is little wonder. I was there in 1996 when President Bill Clinton and his team successfully attached at the hip the by-then unpopular Speaker Gingrich with GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole. This worked like a charm by dooming Dole's campaign from the start.
Ask yourself: If you were Obama, would you really want Reid and Pelosi standing on the stage with you in two years, when you're running for re-election, and you're trying to explain why "Change We Can Believe In" has morphed into "Nightmare on Elm Street"? You wouldn't.
You'd rather have a Republican speaker to blame should the economy take another dip in the wrong direction. Or a GOP Senate leader as a fall guy if foreign policy deteriorates.
The latest fashionable cliche in Washington is to characterize Obama as a professorial type who is easily led astray by a cast of liberal characters who are pulling him in various new directions.