September 9, 2011

Obama's jobs plan: We'll have to pass it to see what's in it.

Can't you just hear Nancy Pelosi's familiar Health Care refrain when you think about Obama's latest jobs plan? We'll have to pass it to see what's in it.  She was talking about a 2000 page piece of...legislation. But this is not even a plan -  at least so far.  It was just a speech. How do you pass a speech?  And it was a dull, redundant and no the least bit innovative speech at that.  

What, you were expecting something better?  I'll admit it was a possibility but had to be a long shot at best.  From what has happened so far the Obama speech was a re-hash and a small re-run of the ARRA stimulus scenario of 2009. You have to wonder if Rahm Emmanuel didn't call the White House with a stern lecture for the president.

RE: Barack, what did I tell you?
BO: You said that Joe Biden was a sack of clams. And...I have to were right.
RE: Yes I was, but that's not what I'm talking about. I said never let a crisis go to waste.
BO: That is correct.
RE: Well this is a #&@*ing crisis!
BO: Wait what now?
RE: The jobs issue is a major crisis!
BO: Well now wait a minute Rahm, I don't have my teleprompter handy but I know enough to ask this; is it an issue or a crisis?
RE: It's both and you are missing an opportunity to take dramatic, progressive action.
BO; You're right. Remind me again what I'm supposed to do.
RE: Spend money. As much as you can get away with. Spend it on whatever Plouffe tells you to spend it on, but say it is for jobs.
BO: Uh, how much Rahm?
RE: Well you can't spend as much as last time because we took a lot of heat. Cut it in half at least.
BO: Alright. Alright I will.
RE: And make a really big speech out of it. You've got to scare Congress into knuckling under. Tell them to pass the bill at least 17 times in the speech. You'd better warm up the teleprompter.
BO: Got it. Can I wait until I finish vacationing in Martha's Vineyard?
RE: I don't see why not. The crisis isn't going to resolve itself any time soon.

I had said the president had four ways he could do this with regard to framing the politics of the speech. He basically stuck with the go small scenario. By small I mean small in terms of concrete solutions. Practically speaking this is a medium to large liberal spending effort with strong hints at taxes. [Ironically we've been conditioned to think of $400 billion as chump change. Guess who are the chumps?]

The go small scenario point was that there would be no real new ideas and he would wait for the results to sink in as the media carried his water. That carrying will happen as expected to some degree.  He's added a wrinkle though. It seems he is going to roll this Edsel of a plan out in pieces over time to build to a crescendo further into the campaign season. Maybe the media cheer leading and the slow roll out will build upon each other.  That has to be the thought.

My thought? Agonizing. It's like watching 'Lost' without caring about the story line (believe me, that's not fun).

But will it work? It's too early to tell but the results are typical. Conservatives see nothing new (they don't even have a concrete plan to review yet - just a speech). It's almost like the president asked for an extension on the due date for his midterm assignment. It's the fierce urgency of 'wait until my next speech'. As for liberal pundits, the game face is on and the reviews are positive but I think they were actually expecting magic and are disappointed that they got the same old same old.

Yes it still has to play out but the distractions - football, terror threat, GOP debate are working against the president's ability to build on this awful sequel. Rotten Tomatoes would have a field day.

His one hope is to get a polling bump so that the media will latch on to that and be at least a little re-energized. But his bumps have become less and less sustainable - look at the surprisingly short Bin Laden bounce - and he also has to hope that changes.

Good luck with that. 

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