Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 Mostly Silly Things CNN Thinks President Obama Needs to Do

Never let it be said that CNN doesn't have its pulse on the heartbeat of America. And if their ratings don't convince of you of that, CNN's Kristi Keck will with her common-sense, Heartland-friendly list of 10 things President Obama must do in 10 weeks to "restore the confidence of the American people and minimize expected losses for his part."

That's tall order, so what does Kristi Keck have in mind?

1. Simplify the message

Candidate Obama inspired voters in the 2008 election with a simple message of hope and change. Halfway through his term, the president now faces the complex reality of governing.
President Obama's problem isn't that the presentation of his message is too complex. It's the message itself. And it's simply too late to take a failed stimulus, financial reform that left out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, credit card reform that's already adding new fees and higher interest rates for those of us who paid our bills on time, a health reform bill that's already raising insurance premiums and will only further explode the deficit, the largest deficits in the history of mankind, and 18 months of failed outreach to Iran and dress them up in different packaging, or even in the old packaging of "hope and change." We've already seen what's inside the gift box, and we're looking for the receipt so we can return it.
2. Channel Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan, known as the "great communicator," put communications front-and-center, [David] Morey [a communications expert who advised Obama's 2008 campaign] said.

"He focused and simplified the message. He communicated it. He built a consensus. He defined America's role in the world, and that's the challenge here," he said.
Another piece of political advice I often hear. And usually from people who don't understand that all the wonderful delivery and fine oratory in the world mean nothing without the message itself. Reagan understod that. Those who voted for Reagan understand that. People like me who didn't much care for Reagan at the time but who later came to appreciate him understand that. You can't separate Reagan's skills as a communicator from Reagan's message itself, and Reagan's message was the polar opposite of President Obama's.
3. Propagandize the truth

"There is a great hunger for leaders who can rise above the political pettiness and tell the truth," Morey said, pointing to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an example.
And I think every one of those leaders would know better than to view what they do as "propagandizing" the truth -- or would at least know better than to use that term out loud. But I'm all for repeating the truth far and wide. I think President Obama should talk about how his administration knew the drilling moratorium in the Gulf would cost 23,000 jobs when the unemployment rate is still hovering near 10%," how Democratic candidates are being advised no longer to claim the health reform bill will reduce costs or lower the deficit and to campaign on "improving it" rather than actually defending what they had a full year to get right, and, just for fun of it, how the Stimulus cost more than the entire Iraq War, which supposedly had convinced Democrats that deficit spending was bad.
4. Go on the offense

"With barely an exception, the administration should stop equivocating, parsing and reacting," Morey said.
Absolutely, President Obama should go on the offense like he did with those "folks wavin' tea bags around." Or like he did with those fishy agents of lies and disinformation who claimed the health reform bill wouldn't lower costs or reduce the deficit (back when Democrats could actually manage to say with a straight face that the health reform bill would lower costs and reduced the deficit). Or like he did when his party rammed that same reform through Congress against overwhelming public opposition. Because it's worked out so well for him this far.
5. Put up a fight
And where, exactly, has Kristi Keck been during the last 19 months?
6. Be positive

The American people want to hear what Obama is for instead of what he's against, said Ron Christie, a Republican strategist who worked in the Bush administration from 2001 to 2004.
It also helps if you can say what you're for, then not backtrack on it the very next day. And it really helps if you can be positive about something that the majority of the country hasn't already seen fail, like your economic policies. Or doesn't oppose, like your health reform bill.
7. Look to the future, not the past
This is always decent advice. Good on you, Kristi Keck!
8. Pay attention to independents
I'm sorry, but any President or presidential candidate who needs to be told -- or even reminded -- about this one... well...
9. Be prepared for Election Day...
Even with eight short paragraphs of explanation in the original article, I'm still not quite sure what this one means.
10. ... but don't stop at November
Actually, the message President Obama is going to get in November will be exactly that: "Stop."

And that's the real problem with this whole article. President Obama doesn't need to do 10 things to restore confidence and turn the rest of his presidency around. This whole article could have "simplified its message" into one -- and only one -- piece of advice:

Be the postpartisan, postracial, pragmatic, deficit-cutting uniter who "gets it" that you claimed to be during the campaign.

(H/T: Memeorandum)