“Messaging” has gotten a bad name in politics. It denotes sloganeering, the sort of bumper-sticker politics that the elites disdain. But a coherent message suggests a coherent vision. The opposite is also true.
Less than eight weeks before the election, the Republicans, as Bill Kristol points out, have a nice, sharp message: stop spending so much and stop raising taxes. You might not agree with it, but you know what they stand for. This was, after all, the media and the Obami’s complaint — “no ideas” from Republicans.
What’s Obama got? Cut some taxes, but raise others. We’re on the road to recovery, but really not. The deficit is strangling us but here’s another $50B for some government-bank idea to build the roads which I had told you the $800B stimulus plan would pay for. It’s not only not working, it’s a jumble — and it’s magnifying the problem: businesses are racked with uncertainty.
It reminds me of watching the McCain campaign. Try this, roll out that, stop — no, restart — the campaign. What was next — juggling knives? All it did was convince voters that he didn’t understand their concerns and didn’t have a coherent economic message. And you know what? McCain really doesn’t. (Climate-control legislation and small government don’t really go together, do they?)
Obama had a coherent vision — lots of government, spending, and tax hikes. The voters hated it and it didn’t work. But you knew what he stood for. Now he’s throwing everything up against the wall in the hope that the public will be impressed with his “focus” on the economy. But he seems harried, out of his depth. Albeit unintended, the message he is sending is: “I haven’t got a clue what to do.” Yeah, we noticed.
And meanwhile, beleaguered Democrats have a message for Obama: forget it. Expect to see more of this:
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) broke with President Obama on Wednesday, saying he would not support any additional stimulus spending.
Bennet, who was endorsed by the president in Colorado but is facing a tough reelection, rejected the $50 billion public works program proposed by Obama earlier this week.
“I will not support additional spending in a second stimulus package,” Bennet said in a statement.
Perhaps if he had shown some independence with respect to health care and the spend-athon earlier on, he wouldn’t be so beleaguered now.