November 8, 2010

Obama's 10 Point Scale of Blame

President Obama, not recalcitrant in his refusal to accept the meaning of the results of the 2010 midterm elections, has a barrage of reasons handy for the Republican landslide. Whether he gets the meaning of the election or not in the context of political calculation is irrelevant. The political calculation seems to be that he cannot come across as either chastened or as not on target with his agenda. To do so would be to admit defeat or failure of his core beliefs or the wrong vision to begin with. He can't afford that. Maybe he doesn't truly see it, but that is less important than his resulting actions.

The fact that he has a list of ready reasons for voter discontent (that don't involve him or his agenda), is a strong indicator of the path he is going to take towards 2012. It's not about accepting the voters' intentions. It's not about realization. It's about blame. That's not surprising considering everyone along the way, from President Bush, to insurance companies to offshore drilling have been blamed whenever there is an issue that confronts him. It's never his fault, so his agenda isn't wrong.

Looking at the list, you'll notice that not making the reasons scale are the following - (i) we Democrats didn't get it was about the economy, (ii) we were guilty of over reach or (iii) Keynesian debt accumulation and progressivism is not in alignment with the American psyche. Perhaps, failing the reasons below they'll need to dip into some of the honorable mention reasons - it was Bigfoot, it was aliens (space aliens, not illegals) and just that the rent is too damn high.

Below is the 10 point scale of blame in ascending order - from low volume blame to the fever pitched scream of "It wasn't me!!"

(10) The reason we lost was because we were blamed for the problems that Bush and the Republicans created.  It therefore stands to reason that if you give them back the keys to the car, they will drive it into the ditch again.  Unfortunately this excuse has not only surpassed its shelf life, it also overlooks the fact that the tow truck the Democrats used to get the car out of the ditch promptly towed the economy into a giant sinkhole.

(9) The GOP wasn't interested in helping us fix this mess, they were more interested in advancing their own political fortunes by misinforming the public.  Their campaign of misinformation carried the day and all our great work was simply smeared and tarnished into disrepute.  This excuse carries the implicit assumption that the voting public are dumb enough to fall for smears and misrepresentation which in turn overlooks the defeat of candidates like Alan Grayson.  In other words, GOP are the masters of misinformation, but when the Democrats do it, they either stink on ice, or else they aren't really doing it at all because they're above such pettiness.  To that I have two words: Aqua Buddha".

(8) Problems?  There's no problems.  We don't see no stinking problems! George Will captures the essence of this here.  This is the Bill Clinton defense, Deny, deny, deny.  If there's no problem then there's no blame to be associated with the President. But obviously, there is indeed a problem.  a 60+ seat swing in Congress, 6+ seat swing in the Senate and big gains in governorships and state Houses don't just happen.  Do they figure voters will see it all as mere coincidence?  Denial doesn't win elections, but go ahead and run with it Democrats.

(7) Outside interests came in and bought this election.  Remember President Obama criticizing the Supreme Court for it's decision in the Citizen's United case?  Then later this year, Joe Biden accused these nefarious special interests of pouring billions of dollars into the GOP campaigns.  In other words these elections were bought and paid for, otherwise the Republicans would be a rump party and the Democrats would be cruising through the next two years unimpeded. Really?  That excuse holds about as much water as Ruth Bader Ginsberg (don't ask, I have no idea what that means).  In any case this argument won't get the Democrats through 2012 in good shape and they know it.  Especially when it turns out more foreign donations went to the Democrats than Republicans.

(6) Governing is harder than campaigning.  Well, duh. The blame here goes to anyone and anything that gets in the way of getting done what the President wants done.  Like the stimulus.  Like Health care reform. These big things took like, forever!  They feel like they have been bogged down in the 'how' of governing as opposed to the 'what'.  That's understandable when there were so many who voted for the health care bill who didn't actually bother to, you know, read it. Again, there's a problem for the Democrats with going with the "This is harder than we thought" excuse.  Blaming it on running things being tough is a recipe for voters to realize that maybe the Democrats really aren't up to the task of governing.  Sure, they'll get tough on stuff they think is important, but actually saving the economy?  Too tough.  That'll sell.

(5) Americans are too impatient. These problems are so deep, so bad, so Bush (see #10) in their nature that it is taking longer to fix than Americans would like.  They hear you, they'd like it to be better too, but you need to be more patient.  This excuse might have mitigated things a little bit in 2010, but by 2012 it just won't fly at all.  It'll be President Carter's malaise days allover again.  The President may try to deflect blame onto the Republicans in 2012 by saying the responsibility is shared by all.  He wants to keep the keys to the car and have Republicans still sit in the back and share responsibility when the car is wrecked going over a cliff.  But that argument is hard to make if he doesn't tack to the center and share some power.  And it's hard to believe he will tack to the center when he doesn't want to accept that the shellacking his party took was deserved.  

(4) The big reason the GOP did so well in 2010 was that Democrat voters weren't energized.  That is the argument despite the come from behind wins for a number of Democrats in the Senate. In a mid-term election, that claim can be made to some extent.  But it has an element of blame to it as well.  Blaming your own base for not turning out to support you in a tough economic year is kind of like blaming the victim.  Let's face it, a lot of far left liberals, the President's real base, feel victimized by the economy.  For them health care is a big win but it doesn't help like a steady job or more taxes on the wealthy to pay higher welfare benefits.  And by blaming the next two years on them, in their eyes is the President blaming the victims.  That certainly won't help in 2012.  "These last two years of a Republican Congress sucked, liberals, and I blame you."  It just doesn't have the same ring as hope and change did in 2008.

(3) It's the messaging.  The President has said since the midterm elections that the Democrats did not do a good enough job selling their accomplishments as they did in governing and getting things done.  They didn't explain themselves well enough.  They allowed Republicans to define them instead.  In a sense this is almost taking blame.  But not quite.  In this argument there is no blame to be assigned.  The President is accepting blame not for his agenda, or his ideas, but rather for not spending enough time telling people why his agenda and his ideas are so incredibly awesome.  Nice try.  It assumes people don't get his ideas.  It assumes his ideas and agenda aren't awesome enough to be entirely self-evident (which he seems to believe they should be).  The fault here lies in the assumption that the American people are stupid and need the tax and spend, entitlement culture explained to them in its glorious perfection.  It also belies the talking point that this guy was supposed to be the greatest communicator EVER.  If so, what just happened?  In that light, this argument smack of pure desperation.

(2) I'm going out on a limb with this one because I don't think we've seen it yet.  The avoidance of blame is in fact part of President Obama's master plan for 2012.  Look we knew these bold new initiatives would face some resistance.  We expected it, we were prepared for it, because we knew it was good for the country.  In that light Democrats were willing to fall on their swords for me and for this agenda because they understood it's importance.  My importance.  Because we knew this backlash of Bible-clinging, gun-clinging idiots would occur, we were prepared for 2010 as part of our master plan for 2012.  Now the GOP will have to deal with the task of actually trying to govern in this unstable economy.  This will show voters that Republicans can't manage it and Democrats and President Obama will all come roaring back in 2012.  And if the economy does well over the next two years, the President hopes to share credit for it. The lion's share of course.  It seems like a risky gambit because it involved telling the public that the President accommodated the backlash and were being inclusive by expecting to share power with the GOP once their big ideas were completed in years one and two. Who is going to believe that they were willing to share power?  And if they do believe it, it means the President was willing to gamble with the economy by allowing what he considers stupid Republicans to have a seat at the table. This would allow him to blame his agenda politically for the electoral failures of 2010 but not the agenda itself.  The only reason I include it as an option is because there aren't many options left for the President as far as casting the blame.  

And number one?

(1)  Voters just don't understand.  Yep.  It's not me, it's you.  You aren't smart enough to get it.  Voters are dumb.  Just ask John Kerry.  The sophistication of the Obama agenda is so far above the heads of voters, you'll just have to re-think this whole voting thing based on gut instinct and instead trust that Obama knows better than you what the country needs, and what you personally need.  In a country founded on liberty, that's probably the dumbest way to avoid blame of them all.  I could spend a couple of paragraphs picking that apart but you've probably tired of reading already.  But ask yourself this - don't you think that deep down, President Obama really believes this one?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This