Commentary Magazine


Topic: stimulus package

Schemers vs. Ineffective Message Crafters

Today’s New York Times Book Review features an interview with NPR’s Ira Glass, who was asked, “What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?” He gave the following answer:

“Could someone please write a book explaining why the Democratic Party and its allies are so much less effective at crafting a message and having a vision than their Republican counterparts? … I remember reading in The Times that as soon as Obama won, the Republicans were scheming about how they’d turn it around for the next election, and came up with the plan that won them the House, and wondered, did the House Dems even hold a similar meeting?”

You have to admire the scheme the Republicans crafted as soon as Obama won. Faced with a new president with a 65 percent approval rating and complete control of Congress, the Republicans held a meeting and came up with a brilliant plan:

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Today’s New York Times Book Review features an interview with NPR’s Ira Glass, who was asked, “What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?” He gave the following answer:

“Could someone please write a book explaining why the Democratic Party and its allies are so much less effective at crafting a message and having a vision than their Republican counterparts? … I remember reading in The Times that as soon as Obama won, the Republicans were scheming about how they’d turn it around for the next election, and came up with the plan that won them the House, and wondered, did the House Dems even hold a similar meeting?”

You have to admire the scheme the Republicans crafted as soon as Obama won. Faced with a new president with a 65 percent approval rating and complete control of Congress, the Republicans held a meeting and came up with a brilliant plan:

Have the President spend nearly a trillion dollars on shovel-ready jobs that didn’t exist; use the money to benefit public-employee unions while the private sector hemorrhaged; pivot to a federal healthcare plan opposed by a majority of the public; assign oversight of the recovery effort to Joe Biden (because nobody messes with Joe); run up trillions of new public debt; propose budgets no one would vote for; ignore the presidential commission’s recommendations for solving the problem; adopt an apologetic foreign policy, intentionally putting daylight between America and its allies; trade the interests of European allies for magic reset beans; become impatient with the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” but exhibit endless patience with Iran; play a record number of rounds of golf but avoid press conferences; give himself an A- after his first year (conditioned on ramming his healthcare plan through Congress within a couple months).

And then the Republicans took advantage of the fact that, as Glass suggests, the Democrats did not even hold a similar meeting.

Although the Times has not reported it, the word is out that after the 2010 shellacking, the Republicans held another meeting, and came up with an even simpler scheme for 2012: have the President double down, explaining how in his first two years he got the policy right but didn’t tell a story to the American people; and then have him craft a one-word message to the people: Forward.

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Barack Obama’s Childish Solyndra Game

Barack Obama is at it again.

The man who proudly and publicly touted his support of Solyndra is now trying to inartfully distance himself from it. Solyndra was once the poster child for the stimulus package; now we’re told to understand “this was not our program per se.” Oh yes it was, Mr. President. Oh yes it was.

The RNC has a short, devastating ad here.

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Barack Obama is at it again.

The man who proudly and publicly touted his support of Solyndra is now trying to inartfully distance himself from it. Solyndra was once the poster child for the stimulus package; now we’re told to understand “this was not our program per se.” Oh yes it was, Mr. President. Oh yes it was.

The RNC has a short, devastating ad here.

Perhaps this can be a “teachable moment” (to use a favorite Obama phrase) for the president, a chance to instruct Malia and Sasha on what it means to be a responsible adult. The lesson might go something like this: to be responsible means to be answerable, to be accountable, to accept the consequences of one’s actions rather than blame others (see Chapter 3 of The Book of Virtues for more).

The British philosopher Mary Midgley wrote that “the really excellent and central point of Existentialism [is] the acceptance of responsibility for being as we have made ourselves, the refusal to make bogus excuses.”

Barack Obama has shown the habit of making bogus excuses during his presidency. He blames everyone and everything — from his predecessor to tsunamis and earthquakes to the Arab Spring to Fox News to ATMs to the Chamber of Commerce to the founding fathers to the Tea Party to so much more — for his failures.

It is a tiresome game, and childish, too. It might be useful for Mr. Obama to consider these words from the inaugural address of America’s 44th president. “In the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

Amen to that.

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