It’s there but it’s gone in a flash.
One blink and you’ll miss the nine words in a 2,400-word speech.
“I’m happy to take on some of the blame” for the 2014 election defeat, Obama grimly told Democratic legislators gathered for an annual retreat in Philadelphia.
President Barack Obama’s post-election semi-apology to defeated Democratic legislators is now recorded for the ages, although it was hedged, modified, limited and fleeting.
And there are far fewer Democratic senators and representatives around to hear the president’s mea minima culpa, since the ballot boxes were emptied in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Since 2009, he’s lost 85 House seats and 13 Senate seats, plus roughly one-third of the state legislatures.
So let’s review go that one-blink apology again.
“And I will just say, obviously we were all disappointed with the outcome of the last election, and there are a lot of reasons for it and I’m happy to take on some of the blame,” he said two minutes from the end of a 20-minute, 2,400-word speech.
The fleeting apology was buried under along stretches of self-praise, declarations of victory for “middle-class economics” over the GOP’s discordant mix of smaller-government ideas, and his call for progressives to front their policies in the run-up to the next election.
“There is no economic metric by which we are not better off than when I took office. And that is because of the extraordinary will and dedication of the American people, but also because all of you have done a terrific job. And I’m proud of you for that,” he declared, eight minutes into his speech.
The White House’s official transcript of the speech says there was applause after the president’s declaration of pride in the “terrific job” done by the now-defeated Democrats. The video shows only tepid and scattered applause.
The Democrats’ private attitude toward Obama was briefly revealed by a dour speech from Vice President Joe Biden.
“To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country, and they’ve been really tough for our party,” Biden said in his speech at the retreat.
Since 2009, “together we made some really, really tough decisions, decisions that weren’t at all popular [and were] hard to explain,” Biden said.
Obama’s limited apology did not come with any explanation for why he would only accept “some of the blame.”
Back in November, Obama was eager to tout his preeminent role in D.C. politics. “As president, I have a unique responsibility to try and make this town work,” he said at a post-election, Nov. 5 press conference.
But then he was also eager to shift the blame onto non-voters for the election debacle that flipped nine seats from D to R. “So, to everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too,” the president said passive-aggressively.
Obama’s share of the blame is a critical issue because he’s trying to drag the Democratic Party even more leftwards in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Many pollsters argue that the outcome of midterm elections is closely tied to the public’s approval of the president’s performance. Since 2009, Obama has pressure-cooked the economy with $7 trillion in borrowed cash, yet wages are flat, the percentage of Americans at work has declined and the number of native-born working-age Americans with jobs is flat, despite normal population growth.
But Obama doesn’t want his agenda items to get the blame. In fact, in the next sentence after his admitted some blame, Obama aggressively touted his preferred progressive policies.
“We believe that everybody in this country should have health insurance. … We believe that [illegal immigrant] families shouldn’t be torn apart, and we’re glad that we’re fighting for immigration reform,” he said.
Whatever blame is to be apportioned, Obama knows that more Obama is what’s best for Americans. “We need to stand up and go on offense, and not be defensive about what we believe in! (Applause.) That’s why we’re Democrats! (Applause.)” he said.
“And I promise you, I’m not going out the last two years sitting on the sidelines. I am going to be out there making the case every single day, and I hope you join me. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.)”