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February 05, 2009

Politico Frets for Obama

"Obama Losing the Stimulus Message War." Alternate title? "Requiem for a Messiah's Glory Days."

At this crucial juncture in the push to pass an economic recovery package, President Obama finds himself in the most unlikely of places: He is losing the message war.

Despite Obama’s sky-high personal approval ratings, polls show support has declined for his stimulus bill since Republicans and their conservative talk-radio allies began railing against what they labeled as pork barrel spending within it.

The sheer size of it — hovering at about $900 billion — has prompted more protests that are now causing some moderate and conservative Democrats to flinch and, worse, hesitate.

Oh, that pesky legislative process! It's just so unfair to expect the president to actually convince people of a bill's merits. Isn't it better just to do something now? Where's a good charm offensive when you need it?
Obama’s campaign was lauded for its visionary use of modern tools for old-fashioned politics. Through the Internet, it recruited supporters, collected dollars, rallied supporters and organized get-out-the vote operations.

But when these modern heroes arrived at the White House, it was like the lights all went out.

Their contact with their millions-fold supporters was cut off, literally, as e-mail systems broke down and ‘The List’ of political supporters was blocked at the iron gate.

To meet government ethics rules, the campaign operation and its grass-roots army were forced to de-camp to the Democratic National Committee, robbing the president of one of his most potent political weapons just as the stimulus bill was under consideration in the House.

Sure. As a commenter at Hot Air said, it's not as if they could just Twitter or Facebook away the fact that this just might be a bad bill.

The entire article is one long lament for the days when the One could simply control his message. Obama is chided a bit in the article, but only for bad message management. By focusing on that aspect, the writer misses a major point: maybe the president is losing the message war because in this case, Americans are focused on policy instead of personality.

The story doesn't give enough consideration to the idea that the stimulus legislation is simply a bad bill and that Republicans who disagree with it are doing so for sound reasons. No, the blame resides with the fact that Obama is unfairly being kept away from his political staff; or the fact that the White House has ancient computers; or that the One can’t simply dictate policy to the legislative branch.

Here's an alternative hypothesis for Politico to consider: Obama is losing the message war because he's trying to sell us a pork-laden stinkburger of a bill that will do little to stimulate the economy. In this case, the GOP just has the better message.

Obama is also finding out the hard way that bad decisions have consequences. In his first two weeks, Obama appointed three tax cheats to work in his administration, has repeatedly made exceptions to the ethics rules he bragged about imposing, and put the lie to his promise to move past partisanship with his infantile 'I won' attitude. Obama is not losing support because the big bad Republicans and Rush Limbaugh are being mean to him. He's losing support because people are beginning to see that he didn't mean a damn thing he said while running for president.

That tends to take the bloom off the rose pretty quickly.

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posted by Slublog at 01:04 PM

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