Thursday, December 01, 2011

Corey O'Brien gets some national press

The New YorkTimes story a day before President Obama's visit to Scranton created something of of a buzz. It says that this is Hillary Clinton country full of Reagan Democrats who may vote for a Republican this time around. Despite what the Professor thinks Barack Obama will win Luzerne and Lackawanna counties in 2012 but our area but it will be a battleground as it always is. Expect the President and VP Biden to visit us in the run up to the election and the Republican nominee will also make a few stops.

At first I focused on this quote “For many people here, Obama is too liberal,” said Ed Mitchell, a Democratic strategist based in nearby Wilkes-Barre. Sorry Ed, Obama is not liberal enough, if he was he would hire retiring Congressman Barney Frank as Press Secretary or maybe Bernie Sanders or at least listen to their advice.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien's remarks got the most attention “Enough with the soft approach,” said Corey O’Brien, a Democratic Lackawanna County commissioner and early backer of Mr. Obama. “He’s got to say, ‘I’m in charge, and I’m going to get it done with or without Congress.’ ”

A few people chastised Corey for not knowing how the the Federal government works.

Where Campaigns Work Well

No, Barack Obama is not Harry Potter

FOR SOME REASON, a lot of people think after that his inauguration, President Obama was handed a top secret magic wand.

Kevin Drum: Republicans have to be chortling at this. It's exactly the response they've been hoping for as we head into election season...

Political Animal: Just to be clear, my point is not to pick on Corey O’Brien, an Obama supporter. He’s very likely frustrated and concerned, and knows plenty of people in his community who are equally frustrated and concerned. I don’t blame them in the slightest — given the larger economic circumstances, their anxiety is well justified....The public likes to think of the President of the United States, no matter who’s in office, as having vast powers....Americans hate Congress, overwhelmingly dislike Republicans, and the notion that the GOP is sabotaging the economy just to undermine Obama is widely believed. And yet, the president may suffer politically because many voters expect Obama to succeed — despite unprecedented Republican obstructionism — by “getting it done with or without Congress.”

The Plume Line

Why GOP benefits from blocking Obama’s jobs policies

I thought it would be worth checking back with O'Brien to get a sense of how widespread this sentiment is in that region, a bellwether area that Obama is set to visit today.

Turns out it is widespread, and that this dynamic may well be in full force. O’Brien said that many voters from the region are fully convinced that Republicans are deliberately trying to block Obama policies that might help alleviate joblessness — but that in their minds, the buck still stops with the president.

“People see that Republicans have been the party of blocking progress — that’s clear,” O’Brien told me. “The people of northeastern Pennsylvania, who will help decide who wins the state, all understand what’s going on.”

But he added: “They still look at the president and say, `the buck stops with the president.’ And that’s something the president has to overcome.”

O’Brien predicted that Republicans would not be rewarded for their obstructionism in the end. But he depicted an extremely volatile political environment, in which people are enraged by government’s failure to alleviate people’s economic suffering. He said Obama still needs to find some way of either securing some GOP support or making it even clearer that he grasps the depth of pubic rage over gridlock and that he’s the one fighting to make things better.

“The frustration is boiling over,” he said. “There’s an awareness here that the president can’t do this alone and that’s never been more true than it’s been now.” But he again characterized public sentiment by saying: “The buck stops with the president.”

And there you have it.

UPDATE: O’Brien got in touch with me after Obama’s speech today, and he sounded convinced that Obama was striking the tone he needs to strike. He said he thinks Obama “scored a lot of points” with eastern Pennsylvanians.

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