Reform you can believe in? (Obama's new strategy)
As the current election season begins to take shape, Obama and his political team are laying the groundwork for the next campaign. Not the midterms, but his 2012 re-election.
Given that increasing numbers of Americans don’t seem as fond of “hope and change” as they did two years ago, they’re crafting a new strategy. Change is out. Reform is in.
When Obama was running for President he was a blank slate. Potential supporters were able to see in him what they wished. But over the past year and half the public has received a pretty stark education in what “hope and change” really meant; hence Obama’s need for a new strategy.
The problem is that people aren’t buying what he’s selling anymore. Even liberal icon Dan Rather pointed that out, telling Chris Matthews that Obama couldn’t sell watermelons by the side of the road if a state trooper was flagging down traffic, (no word on how many years Dan will do in liberal purgatory for that one).
So if you can’t get re-elected selling people what they don’t want, what do you do?
Obama’s not stupid. He knows people are angry. So how to prevent them from taking that anger out on him? Simple, try to confuse them about why they’re angry and make them think you’re going to fix the problem.
In other words, sell yourself as a reformer.
The new strategy is said to rely more on using Obama’s rhetoric and the backdrop of the White House, and less on a legislative agenda. In other words, more speeches with little specifics, hoping people will (once again) see what they want to see.
Indications are that he will focus on three general themes to support his new reformer image: campaign finance reform, American competitiveness and government transparency.
Regarding campaign finance, this year’s “Citizen’s United” decision by the Supreme Court found that Americans don’t lose their free speech rights when they speak collectively via a union or corporate entity. Obama and the Democrats have decided to try to overturn the decision via NY Senator Chuck Schumer’s “DISCLOSE” Act, but only re-imposing campaign restrictions on corporations, not unions.
In a nation with an economy in the tank, near double digit unemployment, record deficits and a ballooning national debt, THIS is what he sees as crying out for reform? But from the Democrat’s standpoint it has the benefit of being a political distraction, (look over here at these evil corporations, not over there at the economy!).
On the theme of American competitiveness, the idea seems to be to use it as a general banner under which to discuss his economic reforms. But the problem is that the course his economic policies have set us on so far is not a path to competitiveness, but decline.
How can we afford to be competitive (in the public or private sector) when our government spends almost two dollars for every one it takes in? As the President’s own economic advisor once asked, “How long can the world’s biggest borrower remain the world’s biggest power”?
Then there’s the “transparency” theme. (Yes, really.) It is completely laughable coming from the leader of the party that developed its health care agenda in secret and took a full year to keep his pledge to discuss the bill in an open forum on CSPAN.
Hardly a week passes that we don’t learn of something new that ObamaCare does that he promised it wouldn’t do. The greatest example of which is that you won’t be able to keep your insurance plan, even if you like it, because most insurance companies won’t be able to sell it to you anymore once the new regulations kick in.
All of which spells trouble for Obama.
In order to make a reform strategy successful, you have to make voters who are opposed to the status quo think that you are too, and that you will help change it. But in order to do that you have to get them to agree with your definition of the problem as well as your solution. They also have to believe that you’re competent enough to pull it off.
Obama’s not doing so well in either department.
Given that polls show majorities of Americans as being opposed to restrictions on freedom of speech, opposed to his economic policies and opposed to ObamaCare, it’s safe to say that they don’t agree with his solutions. And the daily reminders courtesy of the live “spill cam” in the gulf has the public’s opinion of his competence approaching Jimmy Carter territory.
If things don’t change before 2012, getting re-elected as a reformer would be an illusion so great that it would make David Copperfield green with envy.
Crossposted at DrewMcKissick.com