Sunday, January 24, 2010

Obama Gets It. Not!

When I first suggested that Obama was not going to draw the right lesson from Scott Brown's election, I was speculating. Link here.

Now, the evidence is beginning to roll in, and there is little cause for encouragement. Obama reacted to the election by insulting the electorate, declaring class war on Wall Street, and rehiring his chief campaign adviser.

Take the last first. In rehiring David Plouffe Obama is showing that he feels that his failure concerns message and not substance.

But Obama never really left campaign mode. He never got to the governing mode. I suspect that he is too inexperienced to know how to govern, so he can only restore past glory by doubling down on campaigning.

Obama is so thoroughly the captive of his own myth that he has lost touch with reality. Responding to the election in an interview with George Stephanolopous, Obama asserted that he had failed to communicate sufficiently with the American people.

Say what? Mark Steyn replied that Obama has been the most exposed president in American history. Link here. For the past year you could not turn on the television and not see Barack Obama. All he did was talk and talk and talk.

It got to the point where people began suffering from Obamafatigue, a condition that was not covered by Obamacare.

More telling is Frank Rich's analysis of Obama's communication style. As a recycled theater critic Rich could not miss the fact that Obama is all nuance and no high concept. My own take on this, from August, 2008 here.

In Rich's words: "Ask yourself this: All these months later, do you yet know what the health care plan means for your family's bottom line, your insurance, your taxes? It's this nebulousness... that has allowed reform to be caricatured by its foes as an impenetrable Rube Goldberg monstrosity...." Link here.

Why is Obama so low concept? Because his rhetoric comes down to us from the pulpit. He does not define issues; he does not propose solutions; he preaches and sermonizes and makes people feel spiritually uplifted. Unfortunately, spiritual uplift is the role of the preacher, not the president.

As Mark Steyn explains, Obama tried to explain away the Massachusetts Senate vote by insisting that the common people were not bright enough to understand him. Speak about shifting blame!

Obama to Stephanopolous: "I think the assumption was if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on this provision or that law or if we're making a rational decision here, then people will get."

But the people did get it. Obama thought he was focusing on policy. The people knew he wasn't. Policy is high concept. Obama was being low concept.

Remember during the Cold War, American foreign policy toward the Soviet Union was expressed in a single word: containment.

As Frank Rich suggested, everyone understands high concept; no one understood Obamacare.

Next, Obama told Stephanopolous that the same anger that vaulted him to the presidency had sent Scott Brown to the Senate.

Apparently, the people who were so stupid they fell for Scott Brown are so stupid that they voted for Barack Obama.

Obama seems to believe that his IQ is too high, his mind too subtle... to communicate with the illiterati. He has heard it so often that he must have come to believe that whatever he says is pure genius. His hype has induced him to say whatever comes to mind and wait for others to make it seem meaningful. This is simply lazy.

Now, Obama is going to lower himself to communicate with the illiterati. He is declaring class war on Wall Street and insurance companies and corporate interests.

None of it will create any jobs; it is not really supposed to. Obama's low concept mythologizing is an effort to divert popular anger away from the person in charge. The people of Massachusetts may have held Obama to account, but he does not seem to have received the message.

All told, Obama's bumbling response did not restore confidence in the financial markets. Obama wanted to tell the world that he was still there, but not as a president or leader. The markets heard the news and promptly sold off.

Finally, Obama sought to channel populist anger by thrashing the Supreme Court decision that overturned parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

Allowing corporations to engage in political speech offended Barack Obama. At the least, it offended his ability to control the public debate.

But it also represented a vote of no confidence in the American people. As Steve Simpson wrote: "Those who believe that money buys elections implicitly believe that voters are too stupid to make up their own minds." Link here.

Obama believes that if everyone says he is brilliant then he is brilliant. He believes that if everyone says that he is a master communicator he is a master communicator. He is confident that the elites understand this; he feels contempt for the illiterati that do not.

In Obama's world saying makes it so. His jobs program looks like it is going to consist of talking about jobs. Within the framework of advanced leftist thought, talking about jobs creates jobs... because words create reality.

If the election results are calling on Obama to make a sham showing of strength and resilience, then he has found a way to do that too. He can tough it out, he can stand tall in the midst of adversity, he can show how manly he is, by constantly intoning his new mantra: the word "fight."


Anonymous said...

I am reminded of Homer's words in the case of Obama's over-exposure to the media and his many speeches, "empty words are evil". I think it's clear from the Mass. vote that Americans are quite able to distinguish between "form" and "substance;" sadly, their President can't...or won't?

Charles A Pennison said...

I'm not a big fan of Barney Frank, but on Thursday, I felt that Congressman Frank acted more presidential than the President. Obama declared war on the financial institutions, and not really explaining why, while Congressman Frank calmed the markets by explaining rationally what needed to be done, along with when, why and how.

Politicians and many people in general tend to look at corporations and large financial institutions as evil entities. However, we forget that behind those corporate names are many hard working Americans who care for their families and country. Declaring war on these corporate entities is also declaring war on these hard working Americans. This is not a big vote getter!

Politicians should learn to work with all categories of American workers to solve the nation's problems, rather than declaring war with them.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Well said, thanks for the comment.