Commentary Magazine


Topic: media spinners

Obama’s Sales Job Flops

Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday described the aftermath of ObamaCare:

What’s happened this week is that although the polls haven’t moved in any big way, there’s been a slight narrowing of the difference between the positive and negative feelings about this. Still, there’s more negative than positive.

But for the Democrats, what’s really important for the midterms is that finally, the intensity among the Democratic base, the number of Democrats who are strongly supportive of this, has come way up. And it’s beginning at least to balance out the strongly negative feelings that the Republicans have been riding among their base.

We don’t know yet if this is the high-water mark for the opposition to this, if it’s going to grow or if it’s going to dissipate.

But one of the problems I do think the White House is going to have, and they’re going to have to come up with an answer to this, is that premiums are likely to go up, and they might even start going up in a lot of places before November, before all of the things that would keep premiums down kick in, long before.

So Republicans are going to be able to say in the fall, “Ah-ha, your premiums went up,” just like they’re going to say, “Ah-ha, there’s still 10 percent unemployment.” And the White House knows it has a huge selling job ahead of it, and I think the president started this week and they’re just going to have to keep at it.

In other words, “Ah-ha — you sold us a bill of goods.” As Bill Kristol pointed out, it’s worse than that really. Citing the Washington Post/ABC News poll (with a stark undersampling of Republicans), he explains that voters aren’t embracing the “historic” achievement that Obama and the media spinners are touting:

The media celebrates it as historic, on the level of Medicare and Social Security. The president of the United States goes out and spends a week campaigning for it.Forty-six to 50 — people disapprove of it. He hasn’t moved the numbers at all. He’s slightly generated more Democratic enthusiasm, but the overall public sentiment is negative. Independents are negative. The generic congressional ballot is bad for the Democrats.

Among those who were asked, “Would you vote on this issue? Would you be more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports or opposes,” it’s 26-32. That is really bad for the Democrats.

I mean, if they couldn’t take advantage of the momentum of passing this legislation, the signing ceremony, the media, the president traveling around, when are they going to have a bump?

This emphasizes just how limited Obama’s ability to move public opinion is. He persuaded 53 percent of the voters to elect him, but he’s convinced them of precious little since then. They don’t buy that the stimulus worked. They don’t think closing Guantanamo is a good idea. (Last January 47 percent wanted to keep Guantanamo open; now 60 percent do.) And they aren’t buying his sales pitch that his monstrous health-care scheme is going to cut the deficit, save them money, or improve their own medical care.

Real experience with ObamaCare, as with the stimulus plan, may cement voters’ take on the legislation as the premium hikes and Medicare cuts take their toll. The risk with overselling and misrepresenting to the voters either a candidate or a piece of legislation  is that sooner or later they catch on — and then they get the chance to exact their revenge at the ballot box. As the president said, that’s what elections are for.

Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday described the aftermath of ObamaCare:

What’s happened this week is that although the polls haven’t moved in any big way, there’s been a slight narrowing of the difference between the positive and negative feelings about this. Still, there’s more negative than positive.

But for the Democrats, what’s really important for the midterms is that finally, the intensity among the Democratic base, the number of Democrats who are strongly supportive of this, has come way up. And it’s beginning at least to balance out the strongly negative feelings that the Republicans have been riding among their base.

We don’t know yet if this is the high-water mark for the opposition to this, if it’s going to grow or if it’s going to dissipate.

But one of the problems I do think the White House is going to have, and they’re going to have to come up with an answer to this, is that premiums are likely to go up, and they might even start going up in a lot of places before November, before all of the things that would keep premiums down kick in, long before.

So Republicans are going to be able to say in the fall, “Ah-ha, your premiums went up,” just like they’re going to say, “Ah-ha, there’s still 10 percent unemployment.” And the White House knows it has a huge selling job ahead of it, and I think the president started this week and they’re just going to have to keep at it.

In other words, “Ah-ha — you sold us a bill of goods.” As Bill Kristol pointed out, it’s worse than that really. Citing the Washington Post/ABC News poll (with a stark undersampling of Republicans), he explains that voters aren’t embracing the “historic” achievement that Obama and the media spinners are touting:

The media celebrates it as historic, on the level of Medicare and Social Security. The president of the United States goes out and spends a week campaigning for it.Forty-six to 50 — people disapprove of it. He hasn’t moved the numbers at all. He’s slightly generated more Democratic enthusiasm, but the overall public sentiment is negative. Independents are negative. The generic congressional ballot is bad for the Democrats.

Among those who were asked, “Would you vote on this issue? Would you be more likely to vote for a congressional candidate who supports or opposes,” it’s 26-32. That is really bad for the Democrats.

I mean, if they couldn’t take advantage of the momentum of passing this legislation, the signing ceremony, the media, the president traveling around, when are they going to have a bump?

This emphasizes just how limited Obama’s ability to move public opinion is. He persuaded 53 percent of the voters to elect him, but he’s convinced them of precious little since then. They don’t buy that the stimulus worked. They don’t think closing Guantanamo is a good idea. (Last January 47 percent wanted to keep Guantanamo open; now 60 percent do.) And they aren’t buying his sales pitch that his monstrous health-care scheme is going to cut the deficit, save them money, or improve their own medical care.

Real experience with ObamaCare, as with the stimulus plan, may cement voters’ take on the legislation as the premium hikes and Medicare cuts take their toll. The risk with overselling and misrepresenting to the voters either a candidate or a piece of legislation  is that sooner or later they catch on — and then they get the chance to exact their revenge at the ballot box. As the president said, that’s what elections are for.

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Time for Change

If you think we’ve been tough on Obama around here, take a look at Mort Zuckerman’s blast at Obama in his piece entitled “He’s Done Everything Wrong”:

He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue.

This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically.

In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

The corruption he is referring to is the Cash for Cloture deals, of course. (“Five states got deals on health care—one of them was Harry Reid’s. It is disgusting, just disgusting.”) He doesn’t like the union deal on Cadillac health plans either. Then there’s Obama’s inability to connect with voters — a combination of overexposure and remoteness. (Hard to pull off, I know.) Okay, he’s didn’t do everything wrong — just the “major things.” Read More

If you think we’ve been tough on Obama around here, take a look at Mort Zuckerman’s blast at Obama in his piece entitled “He’s Done Everything Wrong”:

He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue.

This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically.

In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

The corruption he is referring to is the Cash for Cloture deals, of course. (“Five states got deals on health care—one of them was Harry Reid’s. It is disgusting, just disgusting.”) He doesn’t like the union deal on Cadillac health plans either. Then there’s Obama’s inability to connect with voters — a combination of overexposure and remoteness. (Hard to pull off, I know.) Okay, he’s didn’t do everything wrong — just the “major things.”

Zuckerman doesn’t bother detailing the long list of foreign-policy screwups – the failed Middle East gambit, dumping on our allies in the Czech Republic and Poland, frittering away a year on “engaging” Iran, the appallingly disengaged reaction to three domestic Islamic jihadist attacks, etc. Zuckerman gives Obama credit for “improving our image” in the world, but then explains:

Let me tell you what a major leader said to me recently. “We are convinced,” he said, “that he is not strong enough to confront his enemy. We are concerned,” he said “that he is not strong to support his friends.”

And Zuckerman warns that, at this rate, Obama will be a one-term president and “succeed” only in reviving the GOP.

Aside from the helpful catalog of Obama’s blunders, Zuckerman captures the amazement and disappointment that much of the chattering class must be experiencing. Their political messiah has been revealed as not only human but as a rather incompetent and foolish one. The political superstar has become a Jimmy Carter-esque figure from whom members of his party will now have to distance themselves to survive.

Conservatives shake their heads in disbelief that the media mavens are shocked, shocked to find that Obama is less than meets the eye. They snicker that only now is there some recognition that Obama was adept at winning but lacks both a reasonable governing philosophy and the executive skills to excel in the job. Conservatives spent an entire election trying to point out Obama’s lack of experience and his leftist bent. They warned and researched and sounded the alarm. But the media spinners, like so many Americans, wanted to believe that Obama was a politician like no other and that they had latched onto a superhuman figure of extraordinary political skill. They were wrong.

So what happens now? The choice, we hear, is between doubling-down or reversing course. But there are also the competency and connectivity issues. How does Obama suddenly learn to govern and take back the reins from the Reid-Pelosi machine? (And really, what’s the point if he hands it to the Emanuel-Axelrod machine?) And then how does he transform his personality? It’s quite an uphill climb, and it’s tempting to write him off and to declare game, set, and match. But other presidents have come back and revived their presidencies; this one just has a deeper hole (dug more swiftly) out of which to climb.

It starts, however, with the humility to realize that this is not the Republicans’ fault, or Chris Christie’s or Bob McDonnell’s or Martha Coakley’s doing. It’s not even attributable to those Tea Party protesters (they’re the effect, not the cause, of the president’s political troubles). The fault is Obama’s. Whether he publicly confesses that fact or not, he’ll have to act like it is.

Ironically, all that mumbo-jumbo about “change” finally has some concrete meaning. Little did Obama imagine that to rescue his presidency, he’d have to change himself, not the country.

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Dick Cheney on KSM

Dick Cheney concedes to Sean Hannity in an interview worth viewing in its entirety here that he had Obama pegged wrong: Cheney thought Obama was “a liberal Democrat, but conventional in a sense,” but the president has turned out to be “more radical than that.” This portion of the interview centers on the KSM trial, which Cheney dubs a “huge mistake.” Cheney recounts the historic and legal precedents in which military tribunals have been used rather than civilian trials. By affording KSM a civilian trial, we are giving him “a huge platform” where he will be able to “proselytize” to a “whole new generation of terrorists.” We are, says Cheney, about to “give aid and comfort” to the enemy and run the risk of making KSM “as important or more important than Osama bin Laden — and we will have made it possible.” While pleading that he is not a lawyer, Cheney picks up on the contradiction between Eric Holder’s assurance that this is a slam-dunk certain conviction and the requirements of a fair, impartial trial.

The interview raises several points. First, as vilified as Cheney has been for years by the mainstream media, his arguments are widely accepted now, and his criticisms of Obama’s atrocious decision are shared by a large majority of the American people. When the administration and their media spinners repeatedly brush him off as “unpopular,” they are, of course, throwing out a non sequitur in place of reasoned argument.

And that brings us to the second point: since announcing the decision, the administration has yet to adequately answer the very questions Cheney and other conservatives have raised. Why give KSM a forum to spew his jihadist rhetoric and influence millions of potential followers? What guarantees do we have that national intelligence materials won’t be disclosed as they were in previous terrorism trials? What could be more “certain” than allowing KSM to be executed as he requested in the military tribunal system? Holder stumbled through one hearing. He should be brought back and grilled until satisfactory answers are provided.

Finally, the president, thanks to a skittish media, has yet to explain in detail what input he had into the process. We got the “tick tock” on the Afghanistan-war decision-making process but nothing on this decision, which has long-term and serious consequences for national security and the administration of justice. Did the president really tell Holder to deal with this? Did no one from the White House influence the decision?

Cheney remains perhaps the most frequent and painful thorn in the White House’s side. But that’s in large part because neither Congress nor the media are doing their job in asking hard questions and getting to the bottom of how this unprecedented and potentially dangerous judgment was arrived at. However, the voters do get the last say. The KSM trial will and properly should be a subject of debate in the 2010 elections by candidates who supported and opposed the decision. As for the former, they should be held to account for their willingness to fund Holder and Obama’s foolhardy legal escapade.

Dick Cheney concedes to Sean Hannity in an interview worth viewing in its entirety here that he had Obama pegged wrong: Cheney thought Obama was “a liberal Democrat, but conventional in a sense,” but the president has turned out to be “more radical than that.” This portion of the interview centers on the KSM trial, which Cheney dubs a “huge mistake.” Cheney recounts the historic and legal precedents in which military tribunals have been used rather than civilian trials. By affording KSM a civilian trial, we are giving him “a huge platform” where he will be able to “proselytize” to a “whole new generation of terrorists.” We are, says Cheney, about to “give aid and comfort” to the enemy and run the risk of making KSM “as important or more important than Osama bin Laden — and we will have made it possible.” While pleading that he is not a lawyer, Cheney picks up on the contradiction between Eric Holder’s assurance that this is a slam-dunk certain conviction and the requirements of a fair, impartial trial.

The interview raises several points. First, as vilified as Cheney has been for years by the mainstream media, his arguments are widely accepted now, and his criticisms of Obama’s atrocious decision are shared by a large majority of the American people. When the administration and their media spinners repeatedly brush him off as “unpopular,” they are, of course, throwing out a non sequitur in place of reasoned argument.

And that brings us to the second point: since announcing the decision, the administration has yet to adequately answer the very questions Cheney and other conservatives have raised. Why give KSM a forum to spew his jihadist rhetoric and influence millions of potential followers? What guarantees do we have that national intelligence materials won’t be disclosed as they were in previous terrorism trials? What could be more “certain” than allowing KSM to be executed as he requested in the military tribunal system? Holder stumbled through one hearing. He should be brought back and grilled until satisfactory answers are provided.

Finally, the president, thanks to a skittish media, has yet to explain in detail what input he had into the process. We got the “tick tock” on the Afghanistan-war decision-making process but nothing on this decision, which has long-term and serious consequences for national security and the administration of justice. Did the president really tell Holder to deal with this? Did no one from the White House influence the decision?

Cheney remains perhaps the most frequent and painful thorn in the White House’s side. But that’s in large part because neither Congress nor the media are doing their job in asking hard questions and getting to the bottom of how this unprecedented and potentially dangerous judgment was arrived at. However, the voters do get the last say. The KSM trial will and properly should be a subject of debate in the 2010 elections by candidates who supported and opposed the decision. As for the former, they should be held to account for their willingness to fund Holder and Obama’s foolhardy legal escapade.

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