Susan Glasser recently convened for Global Politico a panel to discuss the status and short-term future of the Democratic Party. Participating were historian Michael Kazin; Obama 2008 and 2012 staffer Mitch Stewart; Center for American Progress head and H. Clinton advisor Neera Tanden; Democratic National Committee CEO Jess O'Connell; and Obama Labor Secretary and current DNC chairperson Tom Perez.
Perez, firmly grounded in reality, noted
... we have pretty good handle on what has been going on, and I would expand the aperture of your question, Susan. It’s not simply what happened in 2016, but what happened over the last eight years that resulted in the loss of over 900 seats in state legislatures, the movement from 60 Democrats in the Senate to 48, the loss of governors and secretaries of state and state attorneys general, etcetera.
Perez, in a flight from reality, maintained also
And so, the dam broke in 2016 for a lot of folks because they were feeling this decades-long angst. And Barack Obama did heroic work saving us. We were at the precipice of a great depression and he was able to pull us out; but we have a long way to go.
"And Barack Obama did heroic work saving us." Given the pummeling in state governments, the US Senate, the US House, and the loss by a presidential candidate running for a third Obama term, it appears Barack Obama did heroic work saving himself.
In January, Matt Stoller wrote
Obama can’t place the blame for Clinton’s poor performance purely on her campaign. On the contrary, the past eight years of policymaking have damaged Democrats at all levels. Recovering Democratic strength will require the party’s leaders to come to terms with what it has become — and the role Obama played in bringing it to this point.
Stoller explains that President Obama contributed to economic anxiety in the manner in which he handled the
foreclosure crisis and the subsequent bank bailouts. The resulting policy framework of Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department was, in effect, a wholesale attack on the American home (the main store of middle-class wealth) in favor of concentrated financial power. The second was the administration’s pro-monopoly policies, which crushed the rural areas that in 2016 lost voter turnout and swung to Donald Trump.
President Obama might have responded to losses of large banks and homeowners by "forcing some burden-sharing between banks and homeowners through bankruptcy reform or debt relief," but instead "prioritized creditor rights, placing most of the burden on borrowers." Additionally
Obama’s administration let big-bank executives off the hook for their roles in the crisis. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) referred criminal cases to the Justice Department and was ignored. Whistleblowers from the government and from large banks noted a lack of appetite among prosecutors. In 2012, then-Attorney General Eric Holder ordered prosecutors not to go after mega-bank HSBC for money laundering. Using prosecutorial discretion to not take bank executives to task, while legal, was neither moral nor politically wise; in a 2013 poll, more than half of Americans still said they wanted the bankers behind the crisis punished. But the Obama administration failed to act, and this pattern seems to be continuing. No one, for instance, from Wells Fargo has been indicted for mass fraud in opening fake accounts.
Mergers and acquisitions were hot the last two years of the Obama Administration. Moreover, the President
enabled and encouraged roughly 9 million foreclosures. This was Geithner’s explicit policy at Treasury. The Obama administration put together a foreclosure program that it marketed as a way to help homeowners, but when Elizabeth Warren, then chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, grilled Geithner on why the program wasn’t stopping foreclosures, he said that really wasn’t the point. The program, in his view, was working. “We estimate that they can handle 10 million foreclosures, over time,” Geithner said — referring to the banks. “This program will help foam the runway for them.” For Geithner, the most productive economic policy was to get banks back to business as usual.
Hillary Clinton rightly blames the Kremlin, the mainstream media, and James Comey for her defeat to Donald Trump. But in wrongly blaming Bernie Sanders, she echoes Tom Perez in blind fealty to the Obama presidency.