As the poll numbers sink on the stimulus there is no widespread analysis of where it went wrong. Politico has one such analysis and Steve Kornacki has another. That's just a sample and you can find such analysis everywhere. In my opinion though, the reason that support is sinking like a lead balloon comes down to one simple concept, numbers.
Whenever you find a blistering attack on the stimulus, you also find a plethora of numbers, price tags even, accompanying the attack. This National Review article is a great example. I won't quote the article but in it, the authors put together a laundry list of spending that they see as wasteful and next to each item is its price tag. Whether it's $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, or $4 billion for Pell Grants, or $650 million for digital tv coupons, each specific piece of spending has a dollar amount attached.
I must confess that I am a numbers person and so maybe that's why it affects me as it does. That said, numbers are a very powerful thing. In this case, it lays out in black and white just how wasteful the spending is. Rather than saying there is a lot of pork, the public sees for themselves just how much pork there is.
In defending the stimulus, President Obama uses no such numbers. We don't know how many highways will be built. We don't know how many schools will be built. We don't know how many people will get access to the internet. We don't know anything because the President is not putting a number onto anything.
That is a losing argument. When one side quantifies the waste and turns it into a number, or in this case an endless stream of numbers, while the other side gives us vague assurances that things will work...which argument do you think will be more effective? President Obama is losing the P.R. war because the other side has quantified the waste, while he can only give vague assurances that things will be fine.
Please check out my new books, "Bullied to Death: Chris Mackney's Kafkaesque Divorce and Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World's Last Custody Trial"