Thursday, February 18, 2010


E. J. Dionne and the Democratic Rationalization of Failure

Mr. Dionne's piece today, in which he states that the Democrats are failing to sell the Obama Administration's message and policies and face a 1994 like tidal wave of Republican success this November if they don't get better at being messengers, misses the true message of recent history.

Hey, E. J., it's not the messengers, it's the message.

Mr. Dionne says:
...Republican Scott Brown's victory revealed real weaknesses on the progressive side: an Obama political apparatus asleep at the switch, huge Republican enthusiasm unmatched by Democratic determination, and a focused conservative campaign to discredit Obama's ideas, notably his economic stimulus plan and the health care bill.
But the stimulus plan and the Obama health care bill were not torpedoed by a "focused conservative campaign to discredit" but by the bills themselves. Obama spoke directly to the nation on his health care plans about 20 times and the bill dropped a point or two in popular support every time he spoke. All that it took to discredit these plans was to show the unemployment figures and the text of the health care bills themselves. Well, I guess that was a focused response.

Mr. Dionne tells us that the plan and bills were actually very good, but we're not buying. Is he a poor messenger/ideas salesman?

Mr. Dionne cites recent statements by lame duck Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) to support his points but then writes this: "Economists agree that the stimulus worked..." That's not what Senator Bayh said. He said:

If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months.
Then there is this rewriting of history:
On health care, months of delay in a futile quest for Republican support got the Democrats the worst of all worlds. The media gave them no credit for reaching out to the other side but did blame them for an ugly, gridlocked process.
With a 40 plus vote edge in the House and 60 votes in the Senate, what support did the Democrats need? None. And did they "reach out to the other side?" No. They did it their way, behind closed doors with no Republicans invited. It was in all the papers; he has to know this.

He appears to have not had it penetrate into his consciousness.


Yes, this business from the left about how Obama's problem is one of public relations seems to be taking off. I've read it in a number of places.

Amazing; this about the president who was supposed to be so wonderful at giving speeches. During the healthcare debate, Obama gave speech after speech, all to no avail.

So either he's a bad speaker or it's the message.

Well, he's not as good as he's cracked up to be, that's for certain. He relies on the same stock phrases time and again. His reliance on the teleprompter is embarrassing (or should be).

But in the end you're right; it's the message, not the messenger. The American people have figured out that Obama is selling snake oil, and they're reacting appropriately.

The only question now is whether the Republicans can seize on this to win victories or whether they will self-destruct. So far I'm encouraged, but there are plenty of landmines to negotiate.
Obviously I'm with you on what's wrong with the Democrats and sort of with you about Republicans' messing it all up. Still, if the election was today, perhaps half the Democrats up for Congress would not get elected in the greatest Republican tidal wave ever, but it's just over 8 months to election and the Dems are not dumb. They will do things to ameliorate and of course Republicans will stumble (let's just hope it only a little bit). Thanks for the comment.
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