If you had to make a list of things wrong with the Obama presidency, “not enough like the campaign” would probably not be on it. On the contrary, campaigning seems to be all the administration does: too many speeches, pep rallies, fake events, and attacks on opponents and not enough serious governance. But that’s not how the Obami see it. So we hear that “the White House is infusing its communications strategy with some of the ironclad discipline and outside-the-box thinking that made the Obama presidential campaign famous — and successful.”
What this boils down to is a grudging recognition that the president is overexposed (OK, that’s good) and a determination to be even less forthcoming with the press (hold more “carefully choreographed interactions with the press,” they declare) and more aggressive with opponents (“more direct, rapid response to criticism”).
Sigh. Yes, this gang imagines that less transparency and more hyper-partisanship are the way to go. Sadly, there is no brave soul there to say, “Ah, Mr. President, I think we are already getting slammed for being too secretive and thin-skinned.” More than the particulars of what they are proposing, what is so cringe-inducing is the reliance on a campaign perspective to pull them out of their tailspin. It confirms that, indeed, this is all they know, all they do well. When stressed or confused (much of the time now, it seems), they clutch for the security blanket of campaign events and campaign tactics.
At some level, even they understand that this is all arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic stuff. “There is no communications strategy that makes 10 percent unemployment look good,” concedes communications chief Dan Pfeiffer. And there is no communications strategy that is going to lure Evan Bayh back to the Senate or explain how we have let another year pass as the mullahs build their nukes or make the proposed budget look fiscally sane or make ObamaCare look good to the two-thirds of Americans who hate it. What is wrong with the Obama presidency is not a botched communication strategy (although the president himself has become a bore and whines too much). The core problems are Obama’s insistence on a radical domestic agenda, pursuit of dangerous and unpopular national-security policies, and the absence of a chief executive who is practiced and skilled in governance. And, honestly, acting more like a candidate and less like the president isn’t going to help matters.