September 2, 2011

Obama Jobs Plan - What If Scenario #2

Yesterday I went through the exercise of what would happen if the president in his upcoming jobs speech went big on conservative principles. Not likely but theoretically possible as a scenario, it pales compared to some of the other possibilities. In the next scenario, let's look at what would happen with a "go small approach". In other words, if the president's big plan that he worked on at Martha's Vineyard turned out to be entirely underwhelming, what would happen?  Hang on, there's a twist.

This is a very distinct possibility, given that the White House is already starting to downplay the importance of this specific address that they had previously been building up as the speech that would fix it all. Via Fox:
Aides say Thursday’s speech will be part of a bigger plan the White House will roll out throughout the fall with the president hitting the road for speeches and town hall appearances. Aides have already confirmed that Obama will be traveling to California, Colorado, and Washington state for one three-day swing later this month that will include economic events as well as some fundraising.

The move could be a way to try and lower the stakes for Thursday’s Joint Session appearance, but it could also be an attempt by the administration to show the president is trying to stay all over the economy heading into what will likely be an uphill re-election battle.
Surely they wouldn't be lowering expectations unless the plan is a dud - either deliberately or as a result of poor design and late realization of that fact. So it very well could be a yawner of a speech, void of anything worthwhile and much tangible (much like many of Obama's supposed 'plans' which never really got past the status of a speech on some theoretical concepts).  Then what?

What should the GOP do?  Jump all over it of course, the question is how.  The tack I would consider taking is that since there's not much there, the president really doesn't get it, he has no sense of urgency and he has no ideas.  There would be no need to get any more complicated - keep the message simple.  That's an approach that makes the most sense since there's only two ways the mainstream media could let it play out.
  1. They could run cover for Obama.  He's got the play, the media will run with the ball for him.  Except if there's nothing new and nothing that will make a difference and that's the constant counter-message, the media meme won't stick.
  2. redux?
  3. They could pile on him themselves.  There's a growing sense of frustration with the president on the left, the media included.  He's ineffective in bringing about the real, liberal changed he promised, he's been backing down to the GOP and they are losing patience.  The president has way over-promised and way under-delivered.  Way to go.  No wonder his ratings have slid and slid.  If the press piles on in time with the GOP it's game over for Obama.
The obvious question is then whether Hillary Clinton jumps in at that point.  That's another wild card scenario if she does, indeed even whether she does.  It's not far-fetched, but it's also not the most likely scenario. It's more likely it will ignite a light of hope in the media who desperately want to avoid a GOP victory in 2012.  But perhaps some momentum of that talk could force President Obama to decide not to seek re-election.  I don't see that happening but politics is often aspirational for voters as much as it is for the candidates.

In the same post as Hillary???
Speaking of aspirational, I do suspect that if the speech is a dud, the growing impatience with Obama will not boil over all at once.  He has suggested he would string out the solution with a road trip.  That sounds painfully similar to Sarah Palin's I'm running/I'm not running saga.  And while I support Sarah Palin and agree she's gotten a raw deal, there's a lesson in what might happen to Obama in this scenario that she should be heeding.  The longer there's no payoff for supporters, the fewer supports will remain.  For her the moment of truth may have already passed, and it most certainly will if this weekend's announcement is also all filler like the Obama no-big-deal jobs deal.  The unfortunate thing is that in Obama's slow burn the lesson would be too late to help Palin with her decision process.

The one advantage the president has on a non-announcement was handed to him by the GOP - he gets to go on a night after the GOP debate, and before a football game.  No one will be watching anyway, and that could make a big difference.

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