Second Guessing Obama: What Politico Got Right…
…What it Got Wrong.
A recent piece in Politco by Alexander Burns and John Harris offered some advice to a reeling Obama campaign, based upon interviews and statements made by a number of democratic critics alarmed about a ship severely off course.
The authors noted the prevailing themes of the critics.
1. Obama needs to stop saying the economy is getting better
2. Obama should stop demonizing Mitt Romney
3. Obama’s at risk of losing his unique, hopey-changey brand
4. The president needs a clearer agenda for his second term
What they got right, and wrong:
1. Obama needs to stop saying the economy is getting better. True. Nobody believes the economy is getting better. When the President says it is he sounds out of touch. According to the most recent Rasmussen poll, voters believe 64%-29% that the country is moving in the wrong direction. According to a recent Federal Reserve study, the net worth of a median American family fell from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010, erasing “almost two decades of accumulated prosperity,” according to the New York Times. Median family income has also declined. Quantitative easing has also served to spike the price of food and gasoline. Perception is more important than reality. Even when the President cites data documenting economic improvement, few believe it because they don’t feel it.
2. Obama should stop demonizing Mitt Romney. It depends on what the definition of “demonizing” is. Obama or his surrogates have been demonizing Romney for months—his wealth, his business background (vampire), his homes, his cars, and through surrogates, his wife and her horse riding habits. According to the Rasmussen poll, since February Obama has dropped from 50% to 45% while Romney has risen from 40% to 47%. What Obama has been doing hasn’t worked. In truth, nothing may work. But Obama’s team would do well to consider a tactical shift and draw a sharper contrast with Romney on policy issues rather than the personal attacks that have already worn thin, even with the President’s surrogates.
3. Obama’s at risk of losing his unique, hopey-changey brand. Sorry. The President lost his brand months ago, and it isn’t coming back. The hopey-changey shtick was lost when he rammed a health care bill through the Congress that nobody had read and a majority opposed. In November, 2010, the American public answered hopey-changey with the largest Republican majority in Congress since the 1940’s.
4. The president needs a clearer agenda for his second term. That’s a real problem for the president. Americans are not warm to the policies of the last three and a half years. And Obama has done nothing to suggest his second term will be any different from the first. He wants to raise taxes, hire more government employees, restrict energy exploration, subsidize green energy projects that lose money, complete the unpopular federal takeover of the health care system, increase regulation of the private sector economy, implement another stimulus package and do it with money borrowed from China. That agenda may appeal to the President’s core supporters, but they are not a majority. The year 2011 would have been a great time for the President to acknowledge that he misread his 2008 mandate, accept the 2010 verdict, tack toward the center, tackle head on the growing cost of entitlements, scale back some of the more odious aspects of Obamacare to help ease the burden on the private sector, and to put a serious tax reform package on the table. It’s getting a little late to shift gears, but trying would do more for his reelection prospects than daily rants about the mess he inherited from George Bush.
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