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Friday, February 6, 2009

The Diminishing Returns of Perpetual Campaigning II

I think that in six to nine months pundits and political observers alike will begin to pick apart the plethora of mistakes that President Obama made in his first few week and figure out which was more damaging. I think for many of us the hard part will be figuring which to choose because there were so many (was it apologizing for prior ills to the Muslim world, closing GITMO without a plan, allowing Nancy Pelosi to write the stimulus, etc.) I think that last night's speech to the Democratic caucus will rank near the top.

This speech delivered mainly to insiders wasn't supposed to be televised. The administration decided somewhat at the last minute to let the cameras in. Had this been delivered closed door, it would have been appropriate. With cameras rolling, President Obama looked more like partisan candidate Obama and the era of post partisanship ended less than three weeks into his Presidency.

It's unclear what such a broad side and partisan attack on the other side in which he essentially said "I'm right and you're wrong" will do for him. It certainly won't win him any more votes. It won't make the public more agreeable to his plan. All such rhetoric does is sour the atmosphere and make it more difficult to get anything done.

President Obama is making several serious errors in judgment. First, he believes that his victory was a referendum on government spending over tax cuts. It wasn't. It was a referendum on soaring rhetoric over Republican incompetence. Second, he believes that the problems with this bill are induced by the Republicans. They aren't. The problems of this bill have mainly to do with this bill being atrocious. Third, he thinks that vague and soaring rhetoric will continue win the day. It won't and that's because this bill must win or lose on its merits not his rhetoric. Fourth, he thinks that constantly blaming the previous administration will win him points. It won't. I'm right because Bush is wrong may have worked in the campaign but it won't work now.

What President Obama has done is totally undermined one of the central themes of his campaign, post partisanship. You cannot be more partisan than allowing the cameras to roll for a highly partisan attack on your opponents. The folks in the room may have been enamored
but the rest of us found a President doing the opposite of what he promised. President Obama's Presidency has little substance. He has no accomplishments. He has only rhetoric. One of the main pieces of rhetoric was turning the page on the partisan gridlock of D.C. You simply do not do that by inviting cameras in to deliver a blistering partisan attack on your opponents. That is very much in keeping with candidate Barack Obama, but it very un President Obama. This is a mistake he will pay dearly for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was watching O'Reilly last night when the show was interrupted by the speech. For a moment I thought that he might be coming on to give a serious speech about how important the stimulus bill was to the country's future. Instead, it was another campaign speech.

He started the speech by telling jokes, praising Pelosi (for what?) and thanking everyone for being there. My 13 year old son and I just sat and looked at each other, then turned the station after about 5 minutes of nothing being said.

Did you notice he was using a teleprompter?

It was weird. It wasn't serious. He should have been serious from the start. He wasn't.