Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 29, 2009
POLITICS: Not Persuading

The health care fight is still fluid enough to make predicting the outcome a crapshoot, but Michael Barone has an excellent look at President Obama and why he has run into trouble on this issue:

We knew that day that Obama was good at aura, at generating enthusiasm for the prospect of hope and change....

But it turns out that Obama is not so good at argument. Inspiration is one thing, persuasion another. He created the impression on the campaign trail that he was familiar with major issues and readily ticked off his positions on them. But he has not proved so good at legislating.

One reason, perhaps, is that he has had little practice.

The result?

On the major legislation considered this year -- the stimulus, cap and trade, health care -- the Obama White House has done little or nothing to set down markers, to provide guidance, to establish boundaries and no-go areas.

The administration could have insisted that the stimulus package concentrate spending in the next year. It didn't. It could have insisted that the cap-and-trade bill generate the revenue that was supposed to underwrite health care. It didn't. It could have decided either to seek a bipartisan health care bill or to insist that a Democratic bill be budget-neutral. It didn't -- and it still hasn't made this basic policy choice.

Obama's mental and political framework is built around the left-wing, community-organizer notion that there's a real majority out there that already supports all the things he believes in, if only you can get them to show up at the polls. (That includes not only the youth vote and low-turnout minority groups but also people who aren't eligible to vote - felons, illegal immigrants, etc.) Thus, the bulk of Obama's efforts are aimed at firing up the base, not at persuasion. (I should break in and note here that this is not so vastly different from the Bush/Rove strategy, which leaned heavily on getting non-voting evangelical Christians to the polls. I leave to the reader whether to take that as a compliment.)

The things he did do to try to reassure swing voters who flocked to his banner last fall after the financial crisis - promises of tax cuts and a net reduction in federal spending - are undetectable in his governing agenda. And Obama's long-term strategy, as I have noted repeatedly, is not to win over the electorate but to alter it by changing the political system.

Obama simply never deals with the arguments against his policies seriously, only caricatures them and personally demonizes his opponents (the worst knee-jerk response we have seen from him in this regard was the whole Henry Gates episode, in which Obama reflexively attacked the Cambridge police on racially divisive grounds without bothering to get the facts). That's an effective way to get things done when you have the public behind you already. But it also makes it very difficult to win back people once you lose them.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:30 AM | Politics 2009 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I don't know, Crank, but I think the worst we have seen from him was his fear mongering about predatory doctors looking to tear your tonsils out.

I mean, the Crowley/Gates thing was bad and, any time the words, "I don't have all the facts" are followed by you weighing in on the subject, you're an idiot, but at the very least his reaction can also be seen as someone defending a friend/colleague.

The doctor thing was easily, in my opinion, one of the worst caricatures he's created.

Posted by: Agent W at July 29, 2009 12:54 PM

ALERT -- NO IRONY ZONE

"Obama simply never deals with the arguments against his policies seriously, only caricatures them and personally demonizes his opponents . . . ."

Posted by: Magrooder at July 29, 2009 12:56 PM

"Obama's mental and political framework is built around the left-wing, community-organizer notion that there's a real majority out there that already supports all the things he believes in, if only you can get them to show up at the polls. (That includes not only the youth vote and low-turnout minority groups but also people who aren't eligible to vote - felons, illegal immigrants, etc.) Thus, the bulk of Obama's efforts are aimed at firing up the base, not at persuasion."

We can only speculate as to the reasons. Keep in mind, he doesn't -need- to be persuasive when the Democrats control both Congress and the White House. My guess is that he would be more persuasive if he had to convince a Republican Congress.

But you are right in that he risks alienating independents if he doesn't do something about the debt/deficit. He's giving me the impression that he'll sign just about anything that Congress gives him on health care, so I'm just hoping that we get a bill that doesn't include a government insurance option.

Posted by: MVH at July 29, 2009 2:05 PM

Look what I just read on CNN:

"Congressmen will have plenty of time to read the bill, Obama insisted. Noting that Congress won't finish deliberating the legislation until after its August recess, Obama said he'd be willing to invite any representative or senator over to the White House to review the bill 'line by line.'"

He's going to regret saying that!

Posted by: MVH at July 29, 2009 2:09 PM

Gee, its almost like he is a totally unqualified executive, that really doesn't understand the legislative process and let his 53% victory, buoyed by 24/7 media pimping and a 200 million dollar spending advantage, convicne him that he could do anything he wants with no backlash.

Wow-no one saw this coming!!! oh right....

Honestly does anyone on the left really want to argue that this guy is not an incompetent. Large majorities in both houses a lapdog media and his numbers are still dropping like a stone. The people woke up. He can either get smart like Bill Clinton who never advanced a real lefty policy for his last 6 years in office or drive the Dem bandwagon off the cliff in 2010 and 2012.

Can't wait for the off year and mid term elections.

.

Posted by: dch at July 29, 2009 3:27 PM
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