Commentary Magazine


Topic: Charles Franklin

What Bad News?

This is not an administration that takes bad news well. Or to put it more precisely, this is not an administration that takes in bad news. The president pretended not to hear the Tea Party protesters outside his window in April. The administration brushed off ordinary citizens who turned out to object to ObamaCare at town-hall meetings in August as stooges of the insurance industry or ignoramuses. It went to war with Fox for refusing to toe the sycophantic line. And in December it’s reduced to screeching at Gallup for bearing bad polling news. (Watch out RealClearPolitics!)

Charles Franklin of Pollster.com responds to Robert Gibbs’s outburst:

Gibbs’ “EKG” analogy for President Obama’s approval level is typical rhetoric of any administration in trouble with the public. First imply the polls are “all over the place” and then assert that the president doesn’t govern based on polls. Dems and Reps alike reach a point in their approval ratings when they trot out these chestnuts. Sadly, both assertions are false and administrations that truly ignore public opinion are in more trouble than they know.

And another pollster explains:

I would have to heartily disagree with Gibbs’ comments — the reality is I have that situation all the time when I bring clients bad news. When I bring my clients good news they always tell me how smart I am and when I bring them bad news they tell me that I’m stupid and no better than a 6-year-old with a box of crayons.

The disinclination to hear and process bad news is part of human nature. No one, most especially a “sort of god” who had been virtually immune from criticism, likes to hear complaints and wails of disappointment. But a White House that treats critics as enemies and bad news as disinformation does so at its peril. Without a realistic picture of public opinion and how its own policies are being received, the administration is incapable of making the needed course corrections, personnel changes, and message refinements that every White House must undertake to keep from going off the rails.

This administration, however, seems to have a singular strategy: double down on its nasty rhetoric, keep turning Left on policy, rage at the media for missing the “real story,” and admit no errors. It’s a recipe for failure, both policy and political. The Obami may see more of both.

This is not an administration that takes bad news well. Or to put it more precisely, this is not an administration that takes in bad news. The president pretended not to hear the Tea Party protesters outside his window in April. The administration brushed off ordinary citizens who turned out to object to ObamaCare at town-hall meetings in August as stooges of the insurance industry or ignoramuses. It went to war with Fox for refusing to toe the sycophantic line. And in December it’s reduced to screeching at Gallup for bearing bad polling news. (Watch out RealClearPolitics!)

Charles Franklin of Pollster.com responds to Robert Gibbs’s outburst:

Gibbs’ “EKG” analogy for President Obama’s approval level is typical rhetoric of any administration in trouble with the public. First imply the polls are “all over the place” and then assert that the president doesn’t govern based on polls. Dems and Reps alike reach a point in their approval ratings when they trot out these chestnuts. Sadly, both assertions are false and administrations that truly ignore public opinion are in more trouble than they know.

And another pollster explains:

I would have to heartily disagree with Gibbs’ comments — the reality is I have that situation all the time when I bring clients bad news. When I bring my clients good news they always tell me how smart I am and when I bring them bad news they tell me that I’m stupid and no better than a 6-year-old with a box of crayons.

The disinclination to hear and process bad news is part of human nature. No one, most especially a “sort of god” who had been virtually immune from criticism, likes to hear complaints and wails of disappointment. But a White House that treats critics as enemies and bad news as disinformation does so at its peril. Without a realistic picture of public opinion and how its own policies are being received, the administration is incapable of making the needed course corrections, personnel changes, and message refinements that every White House must undertake to keep from going off the rails.

This administration, however, seems to have a singular strategy: double down on its nasty rhetoric, keep turning Left on policy, rage at the media for missing the “real story,” and admit no errors. It’s a recipe for failure, both policy and political. The Obami may see more of both.

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