Obama sits down for a post-shellacking interview with 60 Minutes. And surprise! The president is claiming that his policies aren’t the problem, but rather he has a messaging problem:
“You know, I think that over the course of two years we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn’t just legislation. That it’s a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. And making an argument that people can understand. And I think that we haven’t always been successful at that,” Obama replied.
Is he serious about this? Saying that you just haven’t made “an argument that people can understand,” while it may seem like convenient way to avoid confronting the possibility that people do understand your policies and don’t like them, is a terrible excuse and tantamount to admitting you are a really bad politician.
We have two narratives here. One, is that the American people watched the President nationalize GM, bailout Wall Street, and take flamethrower to their tax dollars with the stimulus bill while unemployment was hitting double digits. Rather than focus on jobs, he then spent the next year telling Americans that if the government took over large swaths of the health care industry, we could supply health insurance to 30 million more people, save a trillion dollars over twenty years, oh, and if you like your health insurance you can keep it. And funnily enough, the American people were either too dense, too anti-government, too-racist or too something to understand how massive Medicare cuts and aggressive price controls are going to make their lives better.
Option two, is coming to terms with the fact the President, a man “who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth,” couldn’t explain to the American people that he was bequeathing legislative gold to them — even after 54 speeches on health care, including a joint session of Congress and a prime time infomercial. And this is the explanation that Obama thinks will help him.
Adding insult to injury, this notion that Obama just hasn’t made an argument people can understand is something that the President has said before. He’s on message about having messaging problem, which is itself indicative of an altogether different messaging problem! I guarantee that unless he comes to terms with his policy failures in much more direct terms, his support among Americans will erode further.