In response to Obama’s Secret Sequester Plan:
Fiendishly clever, and typically Obamanian. He’s avoided taking the blame for anything thus far – why not ride the Empty Chair into his legacy?
The problem I see arising with this strategy is that people aren’t really going for Obama’s Sequestration Terror narrative. They’re not blaming the whole thing on Republicans; they seem a bit skeptical of the whole “2% spending cut means the end of America” claim; the President sounds whiny to even the Low-Information Voters. And of course, he has been nattering on about “smart spending cuts” and a “balanced approach” for ages, so even the people he can generally keep in his hip pocket are wondering why they’re getting the stuck-pig routine now that tax hikes have been imposed, and the hour for balance via spending cuts is at hand.
It’s not a tidal wave of public sentiment, but it doesn’t really have to be. Obama’s “deal-making” style involves racking up big piles of political capital and intimidating Republicans without spending any of it. If he can’t get the big opinion-poll edge before the recession hits, he’ll have trouble dodging blame for it. The situation might actually be worse for him because he’s a lame duck, and never gets to run for re-election again, since it frees some people up to feel bad about him, where they might have swallowed those feelings if they thought his electoral fate hung in the balance. And lame-ducks tend to have popularity problems anyway.
Morris’ theory is interesting and there might be a lot to it, but I’m not sure it’s going to work. How much of the successful 2012 Empty Chair routine worked for Obama because the media helped him sustain that “poised for recovery” narrative? “It’s not that bad, and the bad stuff isn’t my fault” is a lot easier to peddle than what he’ll be selling if a recession kicks in.