Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Emerging Obama Narrative

Toward the end of last night's news conference, new contributor James put forward this nicely concocted summation of the emerging Obama narrative on the stimulus:

"Well, clearly using the bully pulpit to shape the national narrative. I think expecting him not to point out that he inherited this mess is naive. Four threads in the narrative he is trying to create here: 1) I inherited this mess, 2) the Republicans (and by extension deregulation/trickle-down fiscal policy) gave it to me, and 3) I will do this with or without you, and 4) we must move now, even if the bill is not perfect."

I have a few things to say about this.

1) I'm not expecting him not to point out that he inherited the mess...I am pointing out that it is wearing thin, and the American public will eventually stop listening to it. No one held a gun to his head to run for President, I do believe it is still a voluntary position.

2) His point about not taking any guff about deficits and debt from the folks who presided over a doubling of national debt is interesting rhetoric, but it is put forward as a way of justifying...you guessed it...running up the debt! Sort of a "they got theirs now I want mines" approach to the issue.

3) He will do this with or without them, and he has had that power from the beginning. The problem is that the rhetoric and the reality don't match. Where is the transformational figure? Where is the hope and change? Where is The One? I'll tell you where he is...he was swept up with all the trash left in Lincoln Park in Chicago the morning after the election. Democrats are unleashing eight years of pent up payback on the Republicans, and there should be no starry-eyed remorse on the part of Republicans about it. While there was an interesting suggestion that he would work with Republicans on this bill, it was swamped under the weight of his obligations to the people who elected him. Republicans can and must continue to do what the party out of power is supposed to do...put forward alternatives and resist the over-reaching of the party in power. But any sense that they can work with this President and this Congress ought to be very judiciously voiced. There simply is no incentive to work with Republicans on this.

4) Most disingenuous of all from the President is the continuing line of debate that goes something like "this bill might not be perfect, but it is much better than doing nothing--like some in the Republican party are suggesting". Okay, Mr. President. Who are these Republicans? How prominent are they? Who is listening to them? I haven't heard a single Republican of note say "do nothing". Not McConnell, not Boehner, not Cantor, not Kyl...not a single member of Republican leadership. They ALL agree with the basic framework of the stimulus bill--tax relief and targeted, stimulative investment. This should have been easy....and it could have been. If the Democrats had decided not to lard the bill with their policy desires. Now that they have, the bill is not clean, and many Americans are beginning to wonder aloud what they are buying into.

The Republicans are playing this one perfectly, and I look forward in the coming days to watching the theater of the absurd play out. The Senate will pass its stimulus vote today with the votes of the Three Stooges in their pockets (Snow, Collins, Specter). They'll march across town to sit down with Speaker Pelosi and her crew, and all of a sudden, the President's admonitions to act fast, act now, will fall by the wayside as the House Dems fight to re-insert their favorite little policy provisions. They'll come to an agreement on a bill that is $50B HIGHER than the higher of the two versions passed by the individual chambers, and Collins, Snow and Specter will get one final chance to prove that they really are Republicans.


mpdivo said...

I'm grateful that so far he's not using the "we didn't create this mess" narrative for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's awfully familiar to what Clinton did with Somalia.

Anonymous said...

He will use these circumstances and positions as long as he can. It is true that Republicans let the former President go on an incredible spending spree without showing a bit of financial restraint. They earned that poke from the current President.

What I find interesting is that at the outset, the focus was on the banks and as then President Bush stated, the price of not doing anything was too high. Now the current administration is complaining about the "lack of accountability" in the first package. Seems that if you want it bad, you get it bad.

As to the final comment about Snow, etc. I am so sick of listening to "so called" Republicans label others RINOs! All the "good Republicans" spent like drunken sailors (I can use that term, used to be one) without showing one bit on interest in fiscal restraint. Nor did they consider for a second calling on Americans to shoulder the cost and responsibility of fighting a protracted war by paying for it as you fight it.

You can just call me the "Enraged RINO"

Anonymous said...

To your last thought, surely even a complete knucklehead like Pelosi knows that screwing this up risks the vote of the two Maine senators (Specter is a lost cause). When they're so close, would she really jeopardize things at this point?

The Conservative Wahoo said...

She'll let mostly everything the Senate did stand...but then she'll try and put most of the House stuff back in. The Bill will come out of conference just short of $900B, and all three of them will vote for it.

Dan said...

The other part of the Narrative are his actions on National Security issues. We will continue to see little difference between what he does, and what the former administration did. It'll be packaged differently, but will remain 95% same.

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