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Dan Rather: Obama Could Get a Serious Primary Challenge in 2012

4 years ago
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Former "CBS Evening News" anchor Dan Rather is predicting that if the Bush tax cuts are extended for two years (as now appears likely) President Obama will face a tough primary challenge from the left.

Appearing on MSNBC's "Jansing & Company," Rather said:

"This is a political nightmare for Barack Obama as president. The more-left portion of his party hates this with a passion. And politically, within his own party, if this goes through, Barack Obama will be in a position to have his shirttail on fire, his back to the wall, and the bill collector at the door. Which is metaphorically a way of saying he's almost guaranteed -- if this goes through -- to have a serious challenge in a Democratic primary for president in 2012."

Rather went on to add that "the perception of [Obama] is that he won't fight for anything." He also noted: "Many of the heavy contributors to the Democratic Party are beyond shock about this happening, and are saying to themselves, 'This guy . . . has about four to six months to turn the perception of him and the party around or we've got to start thinking about somebody else in 2012.' "
Obviously, a serious primary challenge could greatly hurt Obama's chances of being re-elected.

Comparisons to Ted Kennedy's primary campaign against Jimmy Carter (which many believe fatally wounded Carter politically) would likely become the dominant media narrative. This is something any incumbent president -- especially one already being compared to Carter -- should avoid like the plague.

You can watch the video here:

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Obama is not bad; there are none currently better available for the position! The President out maneuvers most of his opponents and its only through foul play and deceit that the republicans have managed to hinder him at all...Lucky for them Congress doesn't field two football teams, or Government MVP would be Barack Obama!!! Maybe Vick can play on the POTUS team..

December 28 2010 at 9:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Obama seems obsessed with bi-partisanship with right wing Republicans who think he is a Muslim, a communist or other things that lose definition in a fog of right wing thinking and buzz words, but certainly aren’t complimentary. Obama has made his way because he is a charming, very likeable fellow but he errored in assuming he would charm the right wing of the Republican Party. He hasn’t and he won’t, but he has alienated his core support. The people who made it possible for him to overcome a certain Clinton victory did not do so to expand endless wars, to bail out McDonalds, to endorse the Bush diminishment of civil liberty, to totally ignore the social issues that compromise our ability to be competitive in the global economy and most important to fail to understand the problems faced by our schools. Signs of understanding could start with a requirement that class size in k-6 to be 12. Obama has done nothing to address the problems in our criminal justice system that leaves prison guards facing the wrong direction and failing to prevent people from escaping social conditions by breaking into expensive prisons. In ’12 the most Obama can hope for is that the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot and nominate Christine O’Donnell or some such. Editorial cartoons

December 10 2010 at 8:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama is not bad, we just need better. How can it be that so obviously an injustice as the extension of the tax break for the rich is that the Republicans can get away with it?

December 08 2010 at 1:24 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Don't we all remember criticisms of Bill Clinton that he wouldn't fight for anything? That he had no core values? Let's step back a bit further in time. Don't we remember how part of the promise people saw in candidate Clinton was his reputation for compromise? Yet as soon as he was true to that promise he was marked as weak. We were so excited to have a President, in Barack Obama, who we could expect to be thoughtful, intelligent, steady and hard-working. A President who might be true to the pledge that every candidate makes, to change the way things are done in Washington. But as soon as he showed a willingness to compromise he was seen as weak. He was attacked for bothering to negotiate with the Republicans because he had a filibuster-proof sixty seats in the Senate, ignoring the fact that the Senate was filibuster-proof in concept but not reality because a good number of those seats were held by conservative Democrats serving right leaning states. Two years ago we knew that our economy and our country were badly damaged, that the damage had been a long time in the making and that repairs would be a long time in coming. Yet within six months or so we started to wonder why Obama hadn't fixed everything. The American people and the American press are just plain immature. A short memory combined with an addiction to instant gratification is a lethal combination. I myself had the interesting experience today of being infuriated by his compromise while simultaneously recognizing that it was the only thing he could have done. The people, the press and the lesser politicians can have the luxury of fighting the good fight, consequences be damned. The President has to deal with and take responsibility for the final outcome of the process. Too much was at stake and too many people would be hurt in short order if he chose to stand on principle and allow the Republicans to continue blocking legislation. Barack Obama has changed the way things are done in Washington. The problem is that so far he's only changed the way things are done by the President. If only we could be as mature and patient and willing to see the long view as he is. We don't need another President, we need another adult or two for him to work with.

December 08 2010 at 5:48 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to roy4's comment


December 08 2010 at 3:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Oh come on Dan. Exactly who is going to mount that challenge? A more credible challenge would come from right of the President. A quixotic challenge on the left would be based on what policy positions? DADT? Change in progress. Single payer/public option? The ignorant press fixated on politics and ill-informed about policy appears to have no clue as to how monumental a shift in social policy the Affordable Care Act represents. It will modified for the next decade and provider-side reform is companion piece that will truly make a difference; but none of this would be possible without the foundation the ACA creates after a century of trying. Obama can and will do better in presenting his positions and positioning his administration, but panic-stricken calls or illusions about primary challenges political cliche and almost immature avoidance of the reality Obama faces. Fairly well, all things considered.

December 08 2010 at 4:34 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Please. This may be Dan Rather's HOPE. President Obama has a calmer style, but he has gotten more done than he gets credit for and will get more done than any potential competitor. Two years is a long time. My friends who are close to losing their unemployment are less concerned than I about the tax cut for the rich. As a strong Liberal I would like for the diguntled to fight to regain control of Congress. The President can campaign on letting the tax cuts for the rich to expire, but he doesn't get to vote.

December 07 2010 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to slivy's comment
K.B. Kelton

The difference is Carter had a Kennedy waiting in the wings, as did Johnson. There is no one of that caliber waiting to challenge Obama. Sure, Kucinich or some other lightweights. But no one who can seriously challenge him for the nomination. And the competition in the primaries might actually be good for him...will keep his message sharp.

December 07 2010 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I do think Obama was dealt a losing hand when he came into office, he hasn't shown any talent for the "bully pulpit" power of the Presidency. It's also hard when the Democrats are led by Reid and Pelosi--- who I love, but are not the most telegenic or inspiring politicians. It's too bad, he could've been another Roosevelt.

December 07 2010 at 6:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand how the President can keep capitulating to the minority party. He was elected with a mandate...Change. We still have two wars (still troops inIraq...we never seem to leave anyplace), still have a bad economy (and maybe always will), and still have the Bush tax policy in place. Somebody tell me where the change is.

December 07 2010 at 5:55 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

We don't need four to six months. Seriously, we know that his leadership style isn't working for us. He creates the perception that he's made the only, best choice he could make because he constantly concedes before he begins and it may really seem that way to him. But that is exactly why he is not the right leader for us right now. Tim Kaine also needs to be replaced as DNC chair because he reflects the president's leadership style and we will surely lose if have the president and Tim Kaine in charge. We don't just need a challenger we need a candidate that can win that has the right leadership style for dealing with the current challenges.

December 07 2010 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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