Debate: What's with all the sudden 'Obama-love'?

Democrats are an opportunistic bunch, and the sudden surge of Obama-love in Houston at Debate Three was weird stuff, given the stark contrast to idol-toppling from the previous debates.

From Aaron Blake at the Washington Post:

Barack Obama: The last Democratic president has found himself something of an unlikely villain at the first two debates, as Democrats anxious to go further left than his administration distanced themselves from his immigration record, his deals with Republicans and even argued Obamacare is insufficient. But Thursday night, at the first debate at a historically black college since 2007, Obama got more than his share of love.

We knew that would come from Biden, who launched a campaign ad shortly before the debate hailing his achievements with Obama. But the other candidates also repeatedly hugged the Obama legacy.

Zachary Basu at Axios noticed, too:

Most of the candidates praised the former president for setting the foundation for universal health care, but Sanders argued that Obama and Biden bear responsibility for 500,000 Americans going bankrupt as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

...and so did Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns at the New York Times:

Former vice president Joe Biden came in for criticism of Obama administration policies, including its foreign policy and deportation moves — although the candidates were careful to reverse their strategies from the July debate and praise Obama himself.

It was a pretty stark turnaround because the first two debates for the uniformly far-left Democrats were all about out-socialisting one another with each candidate promising easy free health care, a massive, economy-upending green agenda, reparations cash to black people, and other Venezuela-style economy-busters.  Apparently, Obama didn't do a good enough job, despite the message from voters sent in electing Trump, and that was what they were conveying to voters as they tried to build themselves up as shiny new socialists who had finally noticed something wrong.  I have zero sympathy for Obama, but oh, barf.

We could all see what was going on, too.  They were in part all about toppling and taking out Joe Biden, who has been the frontrunner as President Obama's chosen vice president, the one he honored with a medal.  Topple Biden, and Obama would have to go down, too.  Sorry 'bout that, Barry-O. 

Beyond Biden, socialism was now nakedly spread out on the menu, so Obamacare, hailed at the time as a panacea, simply wasn't good enough.  Democrats on stage have all been yelling about health care, but as they did, that effectively that meant running against Obamacare, rather than Trump, who simply wants to get rid of the entire mess altogether.  So once again, Obama went over the side.

The dynamic actually played out once before, when far-left extremist Rep. Ilhan Omar first slammed Obama a few months ago and then quickly reversed course and claimed she "loved" Obama.  Ummm...

Now, it seems that the Democratic presidential candidates have done the same U-turn, and nearly all went out of their ways to praise Obama.  Some examples:

Kamala Harris: I want to give credit first to Barack Obama for really bringing us this far.  We would not be here if he hadn't the courage, the talent, or the will to see us this far.

Joe Biden: Well, I'm for Barack — I think the Obamacare worked.

Julián Castro: And, of course, we owe a debt of gratitude to President Barack Obama. Of course, I also worked for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and I know that the problem with your plan is that it leaves 10 million people uncovered.

Joe Biden (again): "I stand with Barack Obama all eight years" — "good, bad and indifferent."

Part of it had to have been a play to the audience.  The Houston debate was held at a historically black college, where a sizable number of the attendees had to have been fans.  Anyone wanting applause lines for the national audience on television would have to throw in a good word for Obama, given the need for cheers.

It also has a lunge for the prized Obama endorsement.  The loudest Obama-praisers in the bunch were the ones who hankered most openly for the coveted Obama endorsement: Harris, Biden, Castro, and we all know from past events that they want it bad.  So the Obama-love might just have been a race for the holy grail of the Democratic nomination, the coveted Obama endorsement.

But might it also have been a function of Obama feeling irate and embittered about his legacy being trashed, and then stepping in behind the scenes to complain about it and demand a reversal of course.  Why was he being billed as the bad guy in the race to go more progressive (and goodness knows he tried)?  Easily so, given how Obama operates behind the scenes, and given how the Democratic National Committee is seeded with his operatives. If Obama is displeased, no endorsement for you. Word probably got out to them.

Here's the caveat to that falling all over themselves to praise Obama: An Obama endorsement, as the 2018 election showed, is worthless, especially when a race is close. Unlike a Trump endorsement, which almost always puts a candidate at disadvantages over the top in congressional races, as we saw in North Carolina this week, Obama's congressional endorsements in the 2018 seemed to drive voters the other way. Remember this? Here was my post-midterm analysis:

...the big loser who stands out here is hard-campaigning President Obama, the guy who thought he was the star of the Democratic Party and who, throwing the tradition of former presidents staying aloof from politics out the window, campaigned hard, long, and loud, for Democrats in this midterm. Turns out the ones he fought the hardest for lost.

Now he stands exposed as politically irrelevant, powerless, an embarrassment. Sorry 'bout that legacy thing, Barry-O.

..with these details...

But then there were the midterm campaigns that weren't gimmes, some very high profile, and high media-exposure ones: Joe Donnelly of Indiana for Senate. Bill Nelson of Florida for Senate. Andrew Gillum of Florida for governor. Stacey Abrams of Georgia for governor.

Those were the ones Obama went hoarse campaigning for, yelling and waving his arms, voice cracking, speeches described as fiery, telling voters to vote for these guys or die. With Gillum in particular, racial appeals were a factor and Obama's presence was supposed to help. Gillum had a big media buildup about being a first black governor of Florida as an argument to draw votes, and he later cried racism to fend off corruption allegations. Adding Obama to campaign was obviously part of the appeal. This time, the race-politics identity card simply failed.

And Obama? What did he get? Zilch. Zip. Zero. Nada. The voters rather noticibly rejected the ex-president's appeal for votes. Been there, done that.

A prized and coveted Obama endorsement, or campaign stop, obviously isn't the election winner in a tight race it used to be. In fact, with these midterms, when it matters, Obama's a bust.

Democrats apparently have missed the fact that an Obama endorsement is kind of radioactive. They want it, and now they are praising Obama. They should be careful what they wish for.

Image credit: Shareable Joe Biden ad, via the Washington Post, screen shot.

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