FIAF – caps key broken edition
I’m not a huge fan of Peggy Noonan after her performance back in 2008, but her piece in the WSJ nails it:
One fact emerged rather starkly during the crisis, and it will likely have implications in the coming year. It is that the president misunderstands himself as a political figure. Specifically, he misunderstands his rhetorical powers. He thinks they are huge. They are not. They are limited.
Now, just to back up a bit, his power as a political figure in 2008 and before that were HUGE. People (including Noonan) swooned in the audience. He could orate in front of huge Greek columns and no one laughed. But people have realized that the emperor has no clothes. Noonan included.
When Eric Cantor called Obama’s bluff (?) and refused to give-in to his demands, Obama took it to the people. And the fail was huge.
The president was confident he could go over the heads of the opposition and win the day with his powers of persuasion. On July 25 he made his move, with a prime-time national address.
After all, it worked so well during the campaign. Noonan summarizes the speech pretty well:
It was a speech with a calm surface but a rough undertow. “The wealthiest Americans” and “biggest corporations” should “give up some of their breaks.” The “burden” must be “fairly shared.” The problem is Republicans, who are “insisting” on an approach that “doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or the biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.” These Republicans ask nothing of “those at the top of the income scale.” Their stand would “threaten working families” and enrich the “corporate jet owner,” the “oil companies” and “hedge fund managers.” But don’t worry, “the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.” “Millionaires and billionaires” must “share in the sacrifice.” Otherwise the government may not be able to send out Social Security checks.
It would have worked, argued Noonan, if the American people didn’t sense that the entire thing was little more politics as usual. He’s attempting to save his presidency, not our country.
People have to believe you’re genuine in your anxiety for your country, that you’re working in good faith with the other party, that you’re not using a crisis for political gain, that you genuinely mean well toward all, including even the wealthy, that you are shrewd and wise in your choice of a path. Mr. Obama doesn’t have that kind of trust. How many people think he’s broad-gauged, genuine, knowing, or that his judgment on political issues is superior?
Anyone? Show of hands?
But the president is supposed to be great at speeches. Why isn’t it working anymore? One answer is that it never “worked.” The power of the president’s oratory was always exaggerated. It is true that a good speech put him on the map in 2004 and made his rise possible, and true he gave some good speeches in 2008. But people didn’t really vote for him because he said did things like: “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” They voted for him in spite of that. They voted for him for other reasons.
Did it work or not? If it weren’t for his speeches, what was it? The marketing? The “optics”?
Speeches are only as good as the ideas behind them, and there is little behind Obama’s words. He doesn’t mean them. He twists and obfuscates. People making over $250,000 become millionaires who don’t pay their fair share. Taxes become “revenues.” Socialism becomes “fairness.” He says he’s going to cut down on regulations that are choking businesses, while his administration is busy creating new and more onerous ones.
Obama’s speeches were never great, and his reading of them wasn’t inspiring. Merely, the media insisted they were, over and over again. So enamored with Candidate Obama, he was The One. The Savior. The Messiah.
And the rest of us were racist for refusing to believe.
9.1% unemployment and the media is again at it. They will do anything to save his presidency.
Payrolls expanded by 117,000 jobs in July as unemployment fell to 9.1 percent, a bit of good news in what has been a dismal series of economic reports this summer.
US stocks had been in a tailspin leading up this morning’s Labor Department report. They closed down 9 of the last 10 trading days, capped by a 500-point loss on the Dow Jones Industrial Average yesterday. The Dow has fallen 1,300 points since July 21, erasing all its gains for the year.
The report “should lessen fears that the recovery is truly faltering,” Jim O’Sullivan, chief economist at MF Global, told the Associated Press.
Of course, buried is this bit:
Still, even with better July numbers, the economy is not creating enough jobs to bring unemployment down significantly. The unemployment rate fell because 193,000 people left the labor force.
so, we added 154,000 jobs, but only because 193,000 left the labor force.
Now, for some good news, cribbed from Ace:
So, he’s got 6 months. Of course, he still has that ace in the hole …
It’s all so absurd — only racists would vote against a president who’s had a 9% unemployment rate throughout most of his term! — and yet, it’s among their declining bullet-points in the case for Barack Obama.
I guess I’m racist.