Democats, on the run from Republicanines

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

President Obama complained this week that his opponents "talk about me like a dog."

No! Bad Republicans! Drop it! Now sit, stay -- and listen: The president is not a dog, and it is insulting to talk about him as such. The president is a cat.

Dogs travel in packs and are easily led. They communicate by snarling, growling and snapping. They tend to bark and howl all at once. They are disciplined and obey their masters. Left unsupervised for long periods, they will destroy the house. They are, in other words, Republicans.

Cats, by contrast, are solitary, finicky and independent. They refuse to be herded and they hide under furniture when feeling threatened. They are not easily trained and rarely come when called. They are furtive and skittish. They are, in other words, Democrats.

The Democrats' approach to the economic crisis has been feline from the start. Intimidated by all the Republican yapping, they resisted calls from some in their own ranks for a larger economic stimulus package last year. Now it's clear that the stimulus was inadequate -- and Democrats are going to pay in November.

The new Post-ABC News poll finds that, among those likeliest to vote in November, Republicans have a 13-point lead over Democrats. Several handicappers now forecast that Democrats will lose about 50 seats in the House, easily enough to give Republicans a majority. The too-timid Democrats got the blame for increasing the deficit without any credit for improving the economy; in the Post-ABC poll, 92 percent say the economy is in bad shape and only three in 10 think Obama's policies are improving things.

Now Obama is reacting with his animal instincts: He's doing the political equivalent of hiding under the bed. His White House, rejecting more ambitious ideas such as a payroll tax holiday, is offering up a smattering (a dog's breakfast?) of previously floated tax breaks and infrastructure projects that are too little to do much good, too late to have an impact before the election and too close to the election to win support on Capitol Hill.

"Now, here's the honest truth, the plain truth: There's no silver bullet," Obama said as he started his sales pitch Monday in Milwaukee for the new measures. For all his fighting words directed at Republicans, Obama felt the need to reassure the opposition that the modest proposals "will be fully paid for" and "will not add to the deficit over time." The scaredy-cat neglected even to mention the cost of the proposal, or the word "stimulus."

A pre-speech briefing for reporters by senior administration officials, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified, revealed just how timid the proposals are:

Q. What is your estimate of how many jobs would be created?

A. We don't have a jobs estimate for that.

Q. What are you thinking in terms of timing?

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