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Friday Talking Points [145] -- A Democratic Epitaph

[ Posted Thursday, November 4th, 2010 – 23:29 PDT ]

An interesting article caught my eye last week, but what with all the election hoopla, I haven't had a chance to write about it before now. But even if it went mostly unnoticed by the public at large, it was an important and downright scathing indictment of the Democrats' complete inability to get their message out, so it certainly fits in with our theme here on Fridays. Some may feel, perhaps, that the word "indictment" is too strong to use here. I disagree. In fact, I'll make the statement even stronger: this article is an absolute epitaph -- which should be carved into the gravestone laid on top of the corpse of the Democrats' efforts to communicate their virtues to the voters in the 2010 midterm elections.

Decide for yourself. The article is from Bloomberg, and it opens with:

The Obama administration cut taxes for middle-class Americans, expects to make a profit on the hundreds of billions of dollars spent to rescue Wall Street banks and has overseen an economy that has grown for the past four quarters.

Most voters don't believe it.

A Bloomberg National Poll conducted Oct. 24-26 finds that by a two-to-one margin, likely voters in the Nov. 2 midterm elections think taxes have gone up, the economy has shrunk, and the billions lent to banks as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program won't be recovered.

"The public view of the economy is at odds with the facts, and the blame has to go to the Democrats," said J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm that conducted the nationwide survey. "It does not matter much if you make change, if you do not communicate change."

That last quote is short enough to be carved onto a headstone, don't you think? I'm just saying....

After explaining that the Obama administration has actually cut middle-class taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars, the article continues with some damning poll results:

The view that taxes have gone up is shared by a majority of almost all demographic groups, including 50 percent of independent voters, among the linchpins of Obama's victory in the 2008 election.

Even a plurality of Democrats, 43 percent, holds this misperception. Overall, 63 percent of those who earn $25,000 to $49,999 say taxes have gone up, compared with 45 percent of those who earn $100,000 or more.

It then goes on to expose some interesting facts about the Troubled Asset Relief Program ("TARP") money:

In an October report to Congress, released as TARP turned two years old, the Treasury said it had recovered most of the $245 billion spent on the Wall Street bank part of the rescue, and expects to turn a $16 billion profit. In the Bloomberg poll, 60 percent of respondents say they believe most of the TARP money to the banks is lost and only 33 percent say most of the funds will be recovered.

Women (62%) are slightly more skeptical than men (59%) that the funds will be recovered. Independents (61%) and Republicans (73%) are overwhelmingly skeptical. Even Democrats are mostly doubtful, with 48 percent saying the money will be lost, compared with 41 percent who say it will be recovered.

The article ends with the most damning statements of all [emphasis added by me, I should admit]:

The poll reveals the failure of the Democrats to communicate their achievements even within their own party and the opposition's triumph in painting the Obama administration as a failure, particularly on economic issues.

"The administration has said for a long time that the best politics was doing the right thing," says Steve McMahon, a Democratic strategist. "It requires a lot more. These numbers show that the best politics is selling what you're doing."

The full text of this article should be required reading for all Democrats everywhere, and most especially those who consider themselves "Democratic strategists." Because it shows the utter failure Democrats have had at getting their message out in the past two years. The blame for this failure starts at the top, with President Barack Obama himself, but there's plenty left over for the rest of the Executive Branch -- and pretty much every Democrat in Congress deserves their fair share as well.

You've failed, guys. Really. Badly. And that is being downright charitable and polite, to boot. You have utterly and completely failed to counter the blast-furnace heat from the Republican media machine with any sort of defense of what it is you are doing, or any of the good things that Democrats have managed to get done.

If I were the selfish type, I'd say this is good news for those of us out here outside the magic realm of the Beltway who continue to beat our heads against the solid brick wall of Democrats' inability to communicate -- because it certainly shows our educative efforts will be needed for a long time to come. Pundit job security, in other words.

But that would be far too cynical. I really would love to write myself out of the job of providing basic messaging and framing advice here on a weekly basis, if truth be known. I really would enjoy the heck out of waking up one Friday morning and saying to myself: "Gosh, self... Democrats have gotten so good at communicating that I think I'll just pack the whole Friday Talking Points thing in -- because it is simply no longer necessary for me to dispense such superfluous advice!"

But, so far (and quite sadly), this hasn't happened. Not even close, if truth be told. And, from Bloomberg's data, it certainly doesn't look like it's going to happen any time in the near future, either.

Sigh. I'm going to return to this theme, I should warn everyone, in the talking points section. But first, let's hand out our usual awards for the week.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

After the "shellacking" (as President Obama so aptly put it) Democrats received this Tuesday, pretty much any Democratic politician who still has a job deserves some kind of award this week. Or maybe a medal. It should be shaped like a tiny metal life preserver, to prove that the politician survived the "tsunami" of 2010.

Sigh.

The folks who truly deserve to be called Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week were the Democratic candidates who actually ran as Democrats. There were a few of them out there, although they were all but ignored by the national media. Local media picked up on their campaigns, but not much mention was made of them by the big players. Some Democrats ran for tough House and Senate races by actually running on their record, rather than buying into the Republican framing of all the issues. Some of them won their races, and some of them lost, but the MIDOTW really should belong to those politicians who stayed true to their roots and actually made the case for why voters should cast their ballots for Democrats. Even in the face of (in some cases) massive ad buys against them by outside Republican groups, some Democrats managed to win by being honest with the voters about what they thought they had accomplished, and what they felt they still had on the "to do" list. It isn't possible to name them all or send them an award this week, but we thought they at least deserved a bit of group recognition here.

This week's actual awards (both this one and the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week) will not be handed out as a result of recent actions, though (as we normally do here), but this time for results at the ballot box. It wasn't that the winners of either award themselves did anything impressive or disappointing, in other words, but rather the vote totals they received were what qualified them. Some may feel this is changing the rules of the game a wee bit, to which we plead guilty as charged. But then, they're our awards to hand out as we see fit, aren't they?

With this qualification in mind, the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week was none other than Harry Reid. The Senate Majority Leader won his race for re-election by a stunning five points -- much more than anyone predicted. The polling was drifting towards his opponent right before the race concluded, and Harry had been essentially neck-and-neck for months. Reid's approval rating from his home state's voters was dismal for the entire race, in fact -- a situation which usually spells disaster at the ballot box for any politician.

But Harry beat the odds. He did so for three reasons. The first was the stark difference between a rookie politician who didn't have much support from her own party, and an experienced politician who has built a formidable ground game of "get out the vote" volunteers over years and years. The second reason Harry won was the big swing in his favor by Latinos, after Sharron Angle bizarrely referred to an audience of Latinos she was speaking to as "Asians." Latinos comprise roughly one-fourth of Nevada's population -- not exactly a group you should annoy right before the election (as Angle found out, much to her chagrin). And the third reason was that Angle's Latino comment was par for the course for her -- just another odd comment in a campaign chock full of such oddities from her. She was just a bridge too far for many, many voters -- even voters who don't really approve of the job Harry's doing, and would likely have jumped at the chance to vote against him... if the Republicans had only nominated someone more reasonable, that is.

Harry's win was one of the biggest surprises of election night. Other Democrats beat the odds in other states, and there were a few surprise victories all over the country. But Harry was one of the biggest targets for Republicans this year (they really wanted to take Harry down), and even with this headwind he won his race so decisively that we simply must mark his victory by sending him this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Congratulate Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on his Senate contact page, to let him know you appreciate his victory.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

Likewise, our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award goes out to three Democrats we are going to be very disappointed to see go. All three lost their elections this week, and all three will be missed in the halls of Congress by Lefties everywhere. So, ironically, while we normally hand out this award to those Democrats who have disappointed us in the past week, this week the award goes to Democrats who are truly impressive all-around, but who sadly will not be in office much longer.

If the media universe were fair and balanced (to steal a phrase), this would mean these three folks would be immediately snapped up as commentators on the "liberal network," and given opinion shows where they could continue to make the case to America for their positions and their favored policy ideas. Any one of these three would probably do a great job doing so -- much better than most of the people who are paid to opine on the airwaves (and breaking news seems to suggest at least one of these time slots may be opening up, coincidentally).

Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal media universe, we live with the one we have. Which means that there simply is no counterweight to Fox News on the Left. Sure, MS/NBC tries to fill this void somewhat, but they tend to hire people with no real background in holding political office to host their shows (not to disparage any of their hosts, mind you, just pointing out that none of them are ex-politicians in the mold of Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin over on Fox). You can call this a good thing or a bad thing, but it's hard to deny that Fox provides a giant megaphone for Republicans awaiting the next election cycle, while Democrats doing the same simply don't have this opportunity. Except for (possibly) Eliot Spitzer, but it's hard to see him running for any office ever again.

So if we were running the universe, we would immediately give Russ Feingold, Joe Sestak, and (most especially) Alan Grayson their own political commentary shows, so that they might (on a nightly basis) give America an earful of truly progressive viewpoints on key issues. Unfortunately, we are not running the universe -- a fact we bemoan in more instances than just this one, but that's the way the ball bounces, eh?

The most disappointing part of a disappointing election night was hearing the news that Feingold, Sestak, and Grayson lost their races. Sestak especially, since he got a lot closer to winning (the Pennsylvania race was called long after most of the East Coast states). Based solely on their election returns (and not, once again, for anything they personally did which was disappointing last week), we must sorrowfully award Senator Russ Feingold, and Representatives Joe Sestak and Alan Grayson the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

[Contact Senator Russ Feingold on his Senate contact page, Representative Joe Sestak on his Senate campaign contact page, and Representative Alan Grayson on his House contact page, to offer them your condolences.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 145 (11/5/10)

I first noticed the problem which Bloomberg quantified last week in their article (everyone really should read the whole thing, once again) way back on Tax Day this year (I always fill my taxes out at the last minute, I should mention). This is what I had to say about it, immediately after sending in my forms:

My wife and I got an eight hundred dollar tax break this year. In fact, almost everybody got this break -- four hundred bucks per person. Apparently, it was passed as part of the stimulus package last year. I do remember, at the time, hearing something about how Obama's stimulus changed people's take-home pay by readjusting the federal withholding figures, but I had no idea it would turn into eight hundred bucks back on my tax form.

. . .

This, to be blunt, is a massive failure of communication on the part of the Democrats. President Obama and all the Democrats in Congress couldn't even get the message out to me that there was a massive freebie in this year's taxes (and, I've heard rumored, next year's as well), just waiting to be claimed. And I watch these folks pretty closely. It made me wonder how many people had missed this juicy $400-a-person tax credit. ...

The point is, if politicians are going to bribe most of America by kicking back hundreds of dollars to them on tax day, it might be a good idea to tell people about it. "Democrats passed the stimulus last year, which will lower taxes on almost every working American by $400 per person or $800 per couple this year. Democrats did this. Democrats lowered your taxes, America. Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress stand for lower taxes." I mean, how hard is that to say? They've had a full year to brag about this, and yet I've heard nary a peep.

Seven months later, has anyone heard any Democrat say anything remotely like this? Anyone? We just had an election, for Pete's sake. Didn't any Democrat brag about this massive middle class tax cut? Anywhere?

Sigh.

When I sat down to write today's talking points, especially after deciding to base the whole column on the Bloomberg article, I thought to myself: "I'll just write down what the Democrats should have said in this election!" Seven talking points wouldn't be all that hard to come up with to extol Democratic accomplishments over the last two years, right?

But then when I searched my own archives for that post-tax-filing rant, I found that I had already written these exact talking points. Seven months ago! In FTP [119]. What is truly pathetic is that almost every single one of these talking points is still valid today as an example of what Democrats should have been talking about out there on the election trail. Some needed some slight updating, to add current information, but for the most part six of the seven points I offered up back in April were completely ignored by the Democratic Party, in the almost-infinite folly they regularly exhibit in totally ignoring such good advice (the seventh one was more poking fun at the Right than a serious talking point, and I've replaced it below with a generic talking point Democrats should all start using now, in order to get media types to start repeating it).

So, to continue the theme of an epitaph for the Democratic campaign effort, here is a slightly-updated version of what they should have run on. Maybe next time around, more of them will listen -- that's my hope, at any rate. Sooner or later, I do fervently hope, I will wake up one morning and declare my mission here on Fridays to be over, because Democrats have woken up to such basic political reality as well. But, to massively understate the situation, I am certainly not holding my breath waiting for such an occurrence in my lifetime.

Sigh. I guess I should look on the bright side. Job security is scarce these days, right?

 

1
   Obama cut your taxes

I didn't have to change a word of this one. That right there says something, doesn't it? The Bloomberg article merely confirms that absolutely nothing has changed in public opinion in the intervening seven months.

"Well, there's a real disconnect between public opinion and the reality of the situation. For instance, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress enacted some pretty serious tax cuts for 95 percent of American workers -- all but the extremely wealthy. But, in polling, the public seems to think their own taxes have gone up since Obama took office, by a wide margin. The fact remains -- Obama and the Democrats cut nearly everyone's taxes. Any American taxpayer who got their 'Making Work Pay' tax credit this year -- four hundred dollars per person, eight hundred for couples -- should thank the President and the Democrats for including this tax break for working families in last year's stimulus package. And they should thank Obama again next year, when they will get another four hundred dollar break on their taxes, too. President Obama and the Democrats have brought taxes on American families to the lowest point they've been in 60 years, with almost no support from Republicans."

 

2
   The stimulus did what it was designed to do

It's a tough argument to make -- "Things could have been worse." You're arguing that the present is better than what could have been, which takes more imagination than most people are willing to devote to such hypotheticals. But if you don't at least try to make this argument, then you are conceding the entire ideological field to your opponents, whose message is "the stimulus failed so miserably that we'd have been better off without it," which is just laughable (ask even a Republican economist -- they'll tell you, if they're honest).

"The stimulus package that passed last year helped pull our economy back from the absolute brink. In addition to lowering taxes on almost every working American last year and next year, infrastructure projects were funded which have created good jobs here at home. Democrats passed this stimulus with very little support from the Republicans, even though several Republican ideas were included in the bill. Without the stimulus, the economy would have been in a lot worse shape today, that's for sure. And you don't have to take my word for it, ask just about any economist that question, and they'll tell you -- the stimulus did what it was supposed to do. Without it, unemployment would be at 13 or 14 percent, and nobody wants to see that."

 

3
   We're making a profit on the bank "bailouts"

This one didn't require much rewording, either, since the Obama administration has seen fit to treat this news as some sort of Top Secret, to be kept from the public at all costs. Which is, to be blunt, politically insane.

"Everyone's against the word 'bailout' in Washington, and it's easy to understand why. The public is upset over the concept. But the public is missing a key part of the program, which is what I think has led to a lot of this anger. We didn't just hand Wall Street a bunch of money, we got something in return. Whether it was stock, or a loan, or whatever -- the taxpayers got something of value in return for the money sent to Wall Street. Now that these companies are paying back their TARP funds, the taxpayers are actually making a profit on the money as it comes back in. Yes, you heard me right -- the taxpayers are making a profit. Now, not every bank has paid us back yet, and some institutions may not in the end if they collapse anyway, and the car companies are likely to pay back the funds a bit slower. So I can't predict whether we'll make a profit on the entire TARP amount or not at this point. But if you look at the overall picture, the public seems to think we just gave away seven hundred billion dollars to Wall Street, and that's just not true. That money is coming back steadily -- with interest in most cases. The taxpayers are making a profit on these repayments from the banks."

 

4
   The deficit is going down

Once again, there is simply no excuse for not bringing this up during the election. The federal fiscal year closed about a month before the voting happened, and the federal budget finished the year with a still-large deficit of over a trillion dollars. But there was one piece of good news -- the deficit was around $100 billion lower than it was last year. This, coincidentally, is exactly the same amount Republicans had begun using as a campaign promise -- "elect us, and we'll cut $100 billion from next year's spending!" Democrats should have immediately shot back: "We cut the deficit by that exact amount last year, with absolutely no Republican help at all, so who are you going to believe?" For inexplicable reasons, Democrats said nothing at all on the subject.

"Did anyone notice that while Republicans came out on the campaign trail with a vague promise to bring the deficit down next year by 100 billion dollars, that this is exactly what Democrats have just achieved? The overall deficit is very high still, but we are now moving things in the right direction. Republicans refuse to say how they would accomplish these cuts, I should mention. But voters don't have to choose an empty promise with no details -- instead they should vote for those folks who have already proven they can shrink the deficit: Democrats."

 

5
   Unemployment is steadily getting better

Democrats were afraid to even mention unemployment, since saying anything positive about the situation risks appearing "out of touch" by the voters. But, by avoiding the subject altogether, they merely accomplished appearing "out of touch" in a different way. Instead, Democrats should have pointed out that things aren't great, but at least they're heading in the right direction, as opposed to what was happening during the 2008 election when things were getting much, much worse. [This is the one talking point of them all that I have to admit Democrats (some of them, at any rate) tried to defend to a certain extent over the past few months. Just to be fair about things.]

"When President Obama took office, American lost around 750,000 jobs that month. Since the stimulus package passed, this number has gotten smaller and smaller, until at the beginning of this year we started adding jobs once again. Since that time, we have continued to add jobs. The pace of the recovery is way too slow, but at least things have turned around and are heading in the right direction. Unemployment appears to have peaked, and is down over half a point since this peak. It remains way too high, and that should be the first priority Washington needs to deal with after the election. But voters can see that although jobs aren't reappearing anywhere near fast enough, we're at least adding them now instead of losing three-quarters of a million of them per month."

 

6
   Democrats are taking on Wall Street, Republicans are being funded by Wall Street

This was originally written during the debate around the Wall Street reform bill, which was wending its way through Congress at the time. Meaning the talking point needed a complete rewrite, but the theme is exactly the same.

"Are you still upset with Wall Street? Do you want people in Washington to stand up to Wall Street when they engage in risky and destructive behavior? Well, just take a look at who voted for strong new Wall Street regulations, and take a look at whose campaigns the Wall Street fat cats are pouring their money into right now. There's a direct relationship here -- Democrats are fighting for Main Street and against Wall Street; while Republicans are taking in millions in campaign money from Wall Street in the hopes that they can get elected so they can do Wall Street's bidding. It really is that simple."

 

7
   Tea Party Republicans

The final talking point from FTP [119] was a cheap shot at Glenn Beck and his audience, which isn't worth repeating. Instead, it has been replaced with a new standalone talking point (actually, a phrase) that everyone needs to start using immediately.

"The 'Tea Party' isn't a real political party, and never was. It is a faction of the Republican Party, and always has been, no matter which way they'd like to spin this reality. So, much as we use a term like 'Blue Dog Democrats,' from this point on I will refer to this Republican faction as the 'Tea Party Republicans.' We're all going to be talking about this for a while, with the new Congress' makeup, so I think we should use a term that is accurate to describe the group. Instead of Blue Dog Democrats in the 111th Congress, we'll be keeping an eye on the Tea Party Republicans in the 112th."

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

34 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [145] -- A Democratic Epitaph”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    The Bloomberg article and most of your talking points this week will come as a complete shock to the "professional left", just to be clear ...

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    By the way, Chris ...

    Your link to HP isn't working and the link on HP's front page to your latest FTP column is also not working ... I'm thinking the powers that be at HP don't want to hear the truth about the administration because that would expose all of their own nonsense over the last two years ... and, they might have to take some responsibility for the Tuesday night fiasco and for the sad state of affairs as outlined in the Bloomberg article...

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, the various links seem to be working now ... but, still ... I'm pretty HP and the rest of the "professional left" have not learned any valuable lessons nor are they even capable of doing so ...

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    that I think I'll just pack the whole Friday Talking Points thing in -

    Hay now!!! Let's not be sayin' things we can't take back!!! :D

    Where would I go?? What would I do??? :D

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    I don't believe that, even if Democrats did crow about their accomplishments that it would have helped them in the election.

    Because the simple two step response to ANY bragging by Democrats would be, "CrapCare" and then, "Why don't I have a job??"

    Short of designing a combustion engine that runs on garbage (It CAN be done! I have seen it in the movies!! :D) no accomplishment will erase the abomination that is CrapCare and the fact that unemployment is disgustingly high.

    Assuming the Bloomberg data is accurate (and I have no reason to believe otherwise) I am genuinely surprised that things Democrats have done have actually worked out good so far...

    But, as the old saying goes, one "aw shit!" will erase a thousand "atta boy"s...

    Had Obama and the Democrats actually LISTENED to the American people instead of assuming that voters are stoopid and must be dictated to on how to live, then Obama and said Democrats would not be in the hole that they are right now..

    I have to say, this is the fastest turnaround from Left to Right I have ever seen..

    Michale.....

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Liz -

    Maybe you read my post fairly early. Technically, there's a gap between the time I post here (first, of course -- not so much because, of course, my favorite people are here and deserve a first look; but because of mundane copyright reasons) and the time I post on HuffPost (usually around 1-10 minutes after I post here). During this time period, there simply is no link for me to paste in here, so the link is left blank. Soon, though, this link gets pasted in here, and is usable. The DU link takes longer, as I have to totally re-format the text of the article (they don't allow real html tags, but those fake [bracket] tags instead), so sometimes there's a gap of 1/2 hour or more before the DU link here goes "live".

    More info than you probably wanted to know, but there it all is for anyone who has ever wondered why a CW.com article's bottom cross-posting links (especially on Fridays) don't work immediately. The solution to the problem is to try "re-loading" the CW.com page in your browser, which will update the live link, and all should be well. Which is why I bothered to go into such great detail, for that work-around suggestion.

    Michale -

    Where would I go?? What would I do??? :D

    Hey, it keeps me off the streets, too... probably a benefit to society in both our cases.

    Heh. Heh heh.

    Seriously, though, while I actually agree with you on the speed of the Left/Right turnaround, the fact that you are "genuinely surprised" by the Bloomberg article speaks to the point I'm trying to make.

    Consider: if you HAD known this stuff for the past year and a half, would your outlook now be any different? I'm not disparaging your information-collecting abilities (see that link to the article I wrote about my taxes -- I was genuinely pissed off that I hadn't heard anything about that tax cut myself, because it would have been such good political hay for the Dems to have made). So I'm in the same boat as you, in other words -- and the Dems inability to communicate ANY of this is to their blame, not ours.

    So I ask you seriously, politics aside, just as a laboratory experiment (I know you're a big enough fan of SciFi not to take exception to such a description, I have to say, in case other readers misconstrue that statement...) -- if you had heard about all the stuff mentioned in the Bloomberg piece when it happened, would your impressions of Obama and the Dems be even slightly higher now as a result? I'm interested in your self-reflection, personally.

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    If Michale had been paying attention to Geithner and your colunms, then he would have known all along - as it was happening - about what was in the Bloomberg article.

    Oh, wait ...

  8. [8] 
    akadjian wrote:

    CW-

    Good article from Bloomberg. I hadn't seen this but it's great to see it out there.

    Your article's got me thinking about the mistake that I think the Dems made. Here's my thought. I think that Democrats believed that after the financial crash, people could not help but see that this was caused by deregulation and trickle down economics.

    It was so "in your face" that it would have been like missing the Hindenburg crashing on your front lawn.

    So they may have felt their wasn't a need to explain government intervention.

    I think instead, what happened was more like what happens in the NFL. When a team is losing, the coach gets the blame. In 2008, it was Bush. In 2010, it was Obama.

    The opportunity that was missed was an opportunity to change the philosophy of corporatism in government. It was a chance to explain how deregulation didn't work and to offer an alternative philosophy and to really change how government was run.

    Instead, we got minor policy revisions. And no one explained how they were working to deliver on the promise of change.

    I think the Dems assumed that people would understand their philosophy and that conservative philosophy had failed.

    Instead, I think what happened in 2008 was that the blame got placed on the person, Bush, instead of the philosophy.

    And that's what happened again in the 2010 midterms, the blame was placed on the person. In this case, partly because no one is quite sure these days what Obama's philosophy is or even if it's any different from the corporatism of the past.

    Cheers,
    David

    p.s. Bloomberg has been impressive of late. Here's another piece that I haven't seen published anywhere else:
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_46/b4203070002219.htm?campaign_id=rss_topStories

  9. [9] 
    Americulchie wrote:

    Most disappointing Democrat of the week made me wince as Alan Grayson is my Congressman I am beside myself at this loss.He was steadfast in support of Mr.Obama's agenda and more importantly was concerned for his constituents.Feingold another treasure lost that makes no sense.As for the admiral it's been a strange time to live in America where people vote against their own interest.

  10. [10] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Instead, we got minor policy revisions. And no one explained how they were working to deliver on the promise of change.

    The only communication problem that existed was Obama's personal definition of "change," which sounded good to Indies (who decide elections) on the campaign trail, but when translated into things that resulted in increased government power, more government intrusion, and over-the-top government spending — at levels that jeopardize national security, at this point — the American people rejected it. They don't wan those things, David. They never have and they never will, because it all affects their personal LIBERTIES. Look no further than that dictatorial "mandate"as an example of that. The American people are just flat-out not interested in being forced to do things against their will. And HCR was passed against their will.

    I really don't know why liberals are having such a tough time understanding that very simple, clear-as-can-be reality. But Obama's problem is not a failure to communicate; it's a failure to accept the reality that this is a center-right country, with conservatives outnumbering liberals two and one, and that people just simply do not accept the liberal philosophy of taking money from the rich and redistributing it to "middle class" people, who like a nice, comfy lifestyle, but would rather not bust their ass creating it themselves. That is not "fair play," in the eyes of the majority of people in this country; nor is it written anywhere in the Constitution that people have the right to capitalize on the success of others; nor was the federal government given the authority to make it happen. What part of that do you guys not get?

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris1962,

    You should know by now that your own special brand of nonsense is not appreciated over here, either.

    What makes you think this kind of nonsense resonates within the confines of the two corners of the blogosphere where common-sense and reality-based political commentary reside?

    I'm still wondering what part of that do you consistently not get?

  12. [12] 
    akadjian wrote:

    the liberal philosophy of taking money from the rich and redistributing it to "middle class" people, who like a nice, comfy lifestyle, but would rather not bust their ass creating it themselves.

    Aren't you one of these lazy middle class people, CB? ;)

    Ok, ok. All kidding aside, it looks though like you're trying to change the subject back to Republicans good, Democrats bad. Republicans hard-working American capitalists. Democrats lazy good-for-nothing, welfare living, socialist, communist pinkos.

    I'm not really interested in the name calling.

    But let me show you how you actually prove my point, CB. For example, let's look at the stimulus from 2 different framings.

    1. The stimulus is an expansion of big government. It's increased government power.
    2. The stimulus is a one-time only, emergency measure designed to rescue our economy from the housing crash.

    If you believe the first framing, as you do, CB, then you're probably against the Obama/Bush stimulus. If you believe the second framing, then you're more likely to believe that Obama/Bush did the right thing.

    Who won the messaging argument? The Republicans. They did a great job of hammering home the points you mention.

    In fact, your comment contains at least 7 of the top 10 Republican talking points, showing just how good a job Republicans did. I, for example, can maybe put my finger on a couple of the top liberal talking points. But it's much harder. Because they're not nearly as clear or concise and they don't have media outlets like Fox, ClearChannel, and Gannett repeating them 24/7.

    Cheers
    David

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    let's look at the stimulus from 2 different framings.

    1. The stimulus is an expansion of big government. It's increased government power.
    2. The stimulus is a one-time only, emergency measure designed to rescue our economy from the housing crash.

    The only thing I would take issue with here, David, is the implication that the two stimulus scenarios are merely partisan talking points and equally valid arguments.

    It must be recognized that one framing is used to distort the truth, ignore the facts and disseminate misinformation.

  14. [14] 
    akadjian wrote:

    @Americulchie

    Any insights from the ground in Florida about Mr. Grayson?

    What was the perception from people? I was really sad myself to see him lose as I think he gets it like few people do.

    I think this was also one of the reasons he was targeted so hard by corporate money.

  15. [15] 
    akadjian wrote:

    It must be recognized that one framing is used to distort the truth, ignore the facts and disseminate misinformation.

    Good point, Liz. That's typically what I feel is the difference between "spin" and "framing". Bottom line, though, is that conservatives were able to get the first message out better.

    It's also what many have argued is the big problem with the media here in the U.S. I feel it's their job to do more than simply repeat the claims of the 2 parties. I miss an independent evaluation of claims.

  16. [16] 
    akadjian wrote:

    p.s. Apologies for all the posts tonight. But happened to be watching CBS after the Eagles game and Steve Croft interviewed President Obama on 60 minutes.

    It was a surprisingly tough interview with Mr. Croft asking several questions from a conservative perspective.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/04/60minutes/main7021844.shtml?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel

    Thought folks might be interested!

  17. [17] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I watched the same interview.

    It was quite obvious that President Obama has not yet learned any valuable lessons from the fiasco known as the mid-term elections ...

  18. [18] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Liz -

    Well, after going into "lecture mode," I have to admit that at one point in the procedings, the link was actually wrong. For technical reasons I won't bore you with, I screwed it up. But I caught it fairly quickly, so everything should be hunky-dory now. Just had to admit that, after my last note on the subject.

    :-)

    David -

    I think the Dems assumed that people would understand their philosophy and that conservative philosophy had failed.

    To quote the learnéd philosopher, Benny Hill (cough, cough) -- "When you 'assume,' you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me.'"

    You are right -- Dems continually believe (without any obvious reason for such a belief) that this sort of thing will be communicated to the public via some sort of political osmosis. It never happens, and they never learn the lesson. Sigh.

    But I have to say, the "Hindenberg crashing on your front lawn" was excellent metaphor-construction.

    :-)

    Americulchie -

    I, too, would love to hear from a Grayson soon-to-be-ex-constituent about what exactly happened in that district, myself, from your personal take on it.

    I still think he'd be fantastic on teevee...

    Chris1962 -

    Where to begin?

    You keep repeating the canard that America is a "center-right" country, based on self-identified "liberals" versus self-identified "conservatives," but that all that really proves these days is how much conservatives have successfully demonized the word "liberal," really. When liberal policies are stacked up against conservative policies, Americans are actually mostly in favor of liberal policies, for the most part. The Tea Partiers are about to learn this lesson, to their dismay.

    For instance, health care. The GOP/TP is about to launch a serious effort to repeal all Obamacare. But guess what? Most of it the public is going to want to keep. Exit polling showed that "repeal Obamacare" got 48% approval, and "keep it as it is, or take it further" got 47% approval. This will be an interesting fight, to say the least.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- the TP folks are about to learn the same lesson vis-a-vis "change" that Obama learned in the past two years -- it sounds great to say out on the campaign trail, but it is devilishly difficult to actually achieve, given the way Washington works.

    Oh, also, you're the one who loves Rasmussen polls, aren't you? Once again, it was proven in state after state (see: WV, for instance) that Rasmussen was overly optimistic toward the Republican side, and that their polls are so slanted that you should subtract about 3-4% from any GOP results they report, and hand it to the Dems. Facts are stubborn things.

    As for the Constitution, remember that it fully supported slavery. Times change. So does the Constitution, and the judicial interpretation of it. That is also part of the American culture.

    Liz -

    Hey, c'mon, we appreciate all sorts of nonsense here! As long as we all agree to "refudiate" (as Sarah Palin would say) the ad hominem attack; all nonsense is welcome here, even from me (I do get into arguments with the moderators, myself... but because I own the site, I always win these showdowns).

    :-)

    David -

    Allow me to suggest some framing, here, to supplement your dichotomy:

    "The stimulus lowered the American taxpayer's burden to the lowest point it has been in 60 years. The stimulus cut everyone's taxes more than any Republican has managed to since Eisenhower, in other words. The rest of the stimulus put construction workers back to work, rebuilding the greatness of American infrastructure, because with all the Republican 'small-government' thinking, our roads were falling apart, our bridges were literally falling down -- and Democrats believe that we should keep America the world leader in such areas, even though the Republicans voted en masse against making this country better for everyone who drives a car. Democrats can be trusted to lower your taxes and make your roads better -- and Republicans can be trusted to vote against all this common-sense spending, because rich people don't benefit enough by such spending."

    :-)

    -CW

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    Hey, it keeps me off the streets, too... probably a benefit to society in both our cases.

    Most likely.. :D

    - if you had heard about all the stuff mentioned in the Bloomberg piece when it happened, would your impressions of Obama and the Dems be even slightly higher now as a result? I'm interested in your self-reflection, personally.

    That's actually a tough question..

    Since you make the same point down in your final comment, let me address it there...

    Americulchie,

    He was steadfast in support of Mr.Obama's agenda and more importantly was concerned for his constituents.

    Considering the circumstances of late, it seems like those are two diametrically opposed beliefs..

    In other words, you can't support Obama's agenda AND be concerned about the welfare of your constituents..

    Apparently, that's how the voters saw it..

    Liz,

    What makes you think this kind of nonsense resonates within the confines of the two corners of the blogosphere where common-sense and reality-based political commentary reside?

    Why, exactly is CB's comment "nonsense"??

    What part is not factual??

    The US *is* a center-right country.

    Conservatives *do* out-number liberals two to one.

    It was clear that the mid-term election *was* a referendum and a repudiation of Obama's policies.

    "None of these facts are in dispute, Mr President!"
    -Klingon Ambassador, STAR TREK IV, The Voyage Home

    Given these facts, I am at a loss to understand how ANY of CB's comment can be construed as "nonsense"..

    It's nonsense to label it nonsense.. :D

    CW,

    To quote the learnéd philosopher, Benny Hill (cough, cough) -- "When you 'assume,' you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me.'"

    A corollary of this is, "When you make an assumption, you make an 'ass' out of YOU and UMPTION" :D

    But I have to say, the "Hindenberg crashing on your front lawn" was excellent metaphor-construction.

    As a fan of analogies, I have to agree. David's was first rate...

    You keep repeating the canard that America is a "center-right" country, based on self-identified "liberals" versus self-identified "conservatives," but that all that really proves these days is how much conservatives have successfully demonized the word "liberal," really.

    Maybe there is a reason that conservatives have been so successful at it??

    When liberal policies are stacked up against conservative policies, Americans are actually mostly in favor of liberal policies, for the most part.

    For example......??????? :D

    The Tea Partiers are about to learn this lesson, to their dismay.

    Perhaps, perhaps not...

    When it comes to the Tea Party, the only thing that ANYONE can be sure about is that they are unsure...

    Look at how all the pundits predicted that the Tea Party would die a spectacular death under the weight of all the racist accusations and the blatant subterfuge from the Left, Hysterical and otherwise..

    Even here on CW, there were a few who stated that the Tea Party would roast the GOP and let the majority of Democrats sail to election/re-election...

    Neither of these came to pass...

    One can go broke betting on what will or will not happen with the Tea Party and it's effect on the country as a whole...

    As for the Constitution, remember that it fully supported slavery. Times change. So does the Constitution, and the judicial interpretation of it. That is also part of the American culture.

    Agreed... But most on the Left (*present company excepted, of course*) only argue the Constitution when it suits them.

    They scream bloody murder and "WHAT ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION!!!???" when their Aunt Matilda's cookie recipe is at risk but then yell, "WHAT CONSTITUTION???" when it's a Democratic Party government trying to force Americans to buy Acme Cola or Acme Car or Acme Health Insurance...

    "The stimulus lowered the American taxpayer's burden to the lowest point it has been in 60 years. The stimulus cut everyone's taxes more than any Republican has managed to since Eisenhower, in other words. The rest of the stimulus put construction workers back to work, rebuilding the greatness of American infrastructure, because with all the Republican 'small-government' thinking, our roads were falling apart, our bridges were literally falling down -- and Democrats believe that we should keep America the world leader in such areas, even though the Republicans voted en masse against making this country better for everyone who drives a car. Democrats can be trusted to lower your taxes and make your roads better -- and Republicans can be trusted to vote against all this common-sense spending, because rich people don't benefit enough by such spending."

    This is kinda along the same lines of your query to me above...

    Yes, some of the policies that Democrats have undertaken had been successful...

    And, yes I should have given Democrats credit for the successful policies.

    But I can't.. Because they did good on things that really didn't matter and royally screwed the pooch on things that DID matter..

    My son had a very annoying habit when he was growing up.. Knowing he had done something wrong, he immediately did something good in hopes of escaping punishment..

    That's how I see the Democrats.. Yea, they have had some successes... But those successes don't erase or mitigate how badly they have frak'ed things up...

    I mean, sure... One can make all the specific points about this and that they want.. Like David's "I LOVE OBAMA" website mentioned before, one can cherry pick a success here or a success there and paint a very nice rosy picture of how Democrats really helped the American people..

    But it would be a false picture, because it only paints half the story..

    Because when it all boils down to one simple question... "Is my life better now than it was when the GOP was in control" the answer is a clear and present... HELL NO!! And only then does the full picture emerge..

    So, this begs the question.

    Why is my life worse off now than it was back then??

    The answer??

    Because Democrats did some good things but on the wrong issues...

    To partake of David's Hindenburg analogy, it's like the engineer of the Hindenburg telling the captain, "Sir, I cleaned up the engine room real pretty like.."

    Cleaning the engine room is a good thing to do, but didn't do a damn thing to prevent the airship from crashing and burning on David's front lawn..

    To sum up (aren't you glad?? :D) all the good that Democrats have done was directed towards the wrong issues...

    Americans are WORSE off now than they were before Democrats came into power..

    And THAT is the only fact that matters.

    As the results of the mid-term election clearly proved...

    Michale.....

  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    That's bullshit!

    But, that's OK ... all manner of BS is appreciated around here, too. :)

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    Fine ... appreciate the nonsense all you want. As long as you also appreciate that, sometimes, I will not be able to resist the urge to call it out for what it is, from time to time. :)

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    That's bullshit!

    Gee whiz, Liz... Could you be more specific??? :D

    "Everything that guy there just said is bullshit. Thank you."
    -Joe Pesci, MY COUSIN VINNIE

    Michale......

  23. [23] 
    akadjian wrote:

    "Everything that guy there just said is bullshit. Thank you. - -Joe Pesci, MY COUSIN VINNIE"

    I love that movie, Michale!

    "I'm gonna stay in prison tonight. Maybe I'll finally get some sleep. I'm doing good, huh?" - Vinny Gambini

    Not quite sure where to start on the rest of your comments, Michale but I will say that most are anti-Obama. That's what I think won Republicans this election, but if they're going to win me over I need more than that. And I actually would like more than trickle down theory and deregulation too.

    Maybe there is a reason that conservatives have been so successful at it?

    I think you're right. I think it's called lots of money :). But also, I think they've had a long term strategy that they've been working on for over 30 years and have been quite successful with.

    Cheers
    David

    p.s. I finally setup a spot where we can take the "Unthinkable" conversation offline. Sorry, been super busy at work or would have posted this earlier. Your comments may go to moderation the first time.

    http://thereckoner.com/?p=158

  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Now if only I could close a tag properly ... *sigh*

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Of course my comments are anti-Obama.. Because I believe that he has really screwed things up..

    Just like all the comments around here during the Bush years were anti-Bush.. Because ya'all believed (rightly or wrongly) that Bush was really screwing things up...

    Such is the nature of the beast...

    I think you're right. I think it's called lots of money :). But also, I think they've had a long term strategy that they've been working on for over 30 years and have been quite successful with.

    As far as making "liberal" a bad word, I think it has more to do with all the terrorism and death and destruction that was done in the name of Liberals and the Left wing agenda in the past...

    It's easy to vilify something when you see the result of it is blowing up buildings and killing innocent people...

    And yes, there has been a few incidents like that from the Right, but much fewer and with much less frequency than from the Left..

    Which is why the Right has had an easier time of vilifying the Left than the Left has had vilifying the Right...

    One only has to look at the Left's recent attempts to vilify the Tea Party to see that they (the Left) aren't very good at it...

    p.s. I finally setup a spot where we can take the "Unthinkable" conversation offline. Sorry, been super busy at work or would have posted this earlier. Your comments may go to moderation the first time.

    I am still holding out hope that I can cajole CW into watching the movie and doing a commentary on it.. :D But I tried to slide over there to your link and take a look, but didn't see a comment per se... Did you just introduce the subject??

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    Americulchie,

    Since you appear to be an Alan Grayson fan, you might appreciate this interview..

    http://susiemadrak.com/?p=9534

    Granted, it's from another "head-stomping" blog :D but it's a good interview..

    Interesting though.. Grayson seems to think that Democrats lost because they didn't listen to their base...

    In other words, screw the rest of the country, just do what's right for your Party and you will keep your job...

    Nice attitude... Unfortunately, it's the attitude of many ideologues.. People who are Democrats/Republicans first and Americans second..

    People like that are to be pitied..

    Michale.....

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Now if only I could close a tag properly ... *sigh*

    It happens.. :D Don't let it get ya down..

    Michale.....

  28. [28] 
    Americulchie wrote:

    First I would like to thank all who have welcomed me.Secondly I would like to apologize as I am relatively new to this Technobloggy thing(to coin a phrase).Though I am a believer
    in the soul of all wit is brevity;I have as yet found my "voice"as such I tend to eyewateringly stream of consciousness or so it seems to me.
    The seeds of Alan Graysons loss are diverse.First we live in a gerrymandered district where it was a surprise to me when in 2008 Mr.Grayson won where I live is in the buckle of the Bible Belt there is a church on every corner;not good for us of a liberal mindset.I will always be considered a foreigner as I am a New Yorker with a funny Oirish last name.People tend to forget even with the vestiges of "Jim Crow" all around us Florida is still a deep fried Southern state. Lastly there was "The Ad";as a devout agnostic misanthrope I was of the mind that Taliban Dan had it coming to him.I personally take the viewpoint that religion is the first refuge of the scoundrel and any politician who goes around spouting Bible passages is a wanker of the first order.Alas I was in a distinct minority as the exit polling showed.I shall leave it there hoping I have not lost any one.

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    I personally take the viewpoint that religion is the first refuge of the scoundrel and any politician who goes around spouting Bible passages is a wanker of the first order.

    Sounds like you and I will get along just fine as I believe EXACTLY the same thing.. :D

    Michale.....

  30. [30] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Chris: Okay, I finally found the correct poll. LOL. Wow, it's really got some surprising answers. But it's also got some blatant push-polling going on, though nowhere near as much as the earlier poll. Like this, for instance:

    In this election, more money from anonymous donors has been spent on campaign ads than ever before. Do you think groups that engage in political activity, such as television ads, should or should not be required to disclose their donors, or does it not matter much to you?

    In an ordinary poll, that first sentence wouldn't be there. Neither would the word "much," at the end. But it wasn't a serious subject, anyway. It looked like they were just pushing for some spin fodder, for that campaign against Rove and the Chamber of Commerce.

    But this particular result is accurate, I know, because Rasmussen had it at 52% in his November 3-4 poll: 54% Cut taxes for all, including those with the highest incomes

    But THIS one???
    I have a few short questions about how things have changed lately—I’m just looking for your perception. If you do not happen to know, just say so. Do you think federal income taxes have gone up or down for the middle class in the past two years?
    52 Up
    19 Down
    29 Not sure

    I'm not sure what to make of that at all. It's not the best worded question I've ever seen in my life; that's for sure. First, it references something that HAS happened, but "lately" [read: recently], but then the time span given goes back two years, which doesn't represent "lately" in the average consumers' mind. And then it asks for their PERCEPTION, which is an odd choice of words, followed by "do you THINK federal taxes have gone up or down..." instead of "do you KNOW IF" or "whether..." followed by "happen to KNOW..." And with a built in assumption that everyone's definition of "middle class" is the same, on top of it all. And there's also so much room for confusion since some tax credits has expired. Oy.

    Bottom line, that question is just too poorly crafted to get a clean, clear response. I sure wouldn't be relying on it, if I were the White House Communications or 2012 Campaign Director. (Nor would I be relying on this polling firm. LOL)

    I can, however, tell you that THIS one goes directly to (if you'll pardon the expression) change they can believe in:

    President Obama says the economy was near collapse when he took office two years ago and is improving though his policies still need time to take full effect. Republicans say President Obama’s policies have failed and that a complete change of course is needed for the economy to get better. What do you think—do you think the economy will get better with more time for current policies to work or do you think a complete change of course is needed for the economy to get better?
    46 Will get better with time for current policies to work
    48 A complete change of course is needed
    6 Not sure

    46% is consistent with Obama's job approval. So those who believe in him plan on continuing to do so, at least for now. THAT'S good news for the White House.

  31. [31] 
    Americulchie wrote:

    Michale
    Thanks for the support.I am glad you did not ask what the middling refuge of the scoundrel is.I'll give you a cryptic clue that it can be found somewhere in the book Tom Sawyer. :)

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    Thanks for the support.

    Don't listen to what the others say.. I am actually a nice guy!!! :D No really... :D

    I am glad you did not ask what the middling refuge of the scoundrel is.I'll give you a cryptic clue that it can be found somewhere in the book Tom Sawyer. :)

    I think you just outed your age there.. :D

    I doubt anyone under 30 even KNOWS who Tom Sawyer is... :D

    Michale......

  33. [33] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Everyone knows "Tom Sawyer" is a song by the Canadian rock band Rush, right?

    Whoops, I think I just dated myself in a different way...

    Heh.

    -CW

  34. [34] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Everyone knows "Tom Sawyer" is a song by the Canadian rock band Rush, right?

    In a not good way, CW. Ok, ok. Kidding. I still have a soft spot in my heart for Rush. But I think it's more nostalgic than anything else.

    Every now and then you just need a 3-minute drum solo ... heheh

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-BRee2bAho

    (Hopefully, no one is reading these comments at this point.)

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