It seems to be a foregone conclusion the Democrats will take an expected hit and end up losing the House in the upcoming midterm election. Should that hit become a shellacking (i.e. losing the Senate), many factors will be cited: an unemployment rate that is too high, a stagnant housing market, a deficit perceived to be "out of control." There will be a fundamental factor at the core of the results, however -- a catastrophic loss by the Dems in the messaging war.
The Obama communications team was virtually flawless during the campaign of '08. But quite frankly since it has occupied the White House, its efforts have been pretty poor. Others have noticed. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman was on ABC's This Week recently, and said there has never been a unifying message.
"I've worked here since 1989. I personally, just as a reporter or columnist in Washington, have never seen a worse communicating administration," he said. "Just at the basic, technical level of 'Hey, we've got a good plan, maybe someone out there would be interested in writing about it."
Obama's team and the Democratic leadership have committed the communications Cardinal Sin: allowing the opposition to define and control the debate.
With the election a little more than six weeks away, the conventional wisdom in the Beltway would suggest there is little anyone can do to fend off the pending tsunami. Those of us deeply immersed in politics tend to develop tunnel vision about these things. In reality, most of the average American voters are only now beginning to pay attention to the campaign. So, gaining control of the narrative can be accomplished, but it will require an aggressive and unified effort to get the Democrats' message delivered.
At last, President Obama has laid out an action plan. Whether it is enough remains to be seen, but at least the roadmap has been drawn. The bullet points:
• The Stimulus worked. We avoided a second Great Depression and have seen 8 straight months of private sector job growth.
• Tax cuts for small businesses will facilitate more job creation.
• Health Care Reform will make coverage more affordable.
• Financial Reform provides tough oversight, ends taxpayer bailouts for Wall Street and will protect Americans from and hidden fees and unfair rate hikes.
• The Republicans have done nothing to help resolve the challenges our nation faces. It has said no to tax cuts for the Middle Class; no to clean energy jobs; no to making college more affordable; no to reforming Wall Street. The GOP is not truly interested in helping the plight of the American People, but only in regaining power.
• The last administration's folly of empire has bankrupted us for at least a generation.
So what is the Republican plan for governance? From what I can determine, the GOP is most interested in repeal of the 14th Amendment; freedom of practicing a chosen religion, except if you are Muslim and want to build a community center in Manhattan; $700 Billion in tax cuts for people who aren't asking for, nor are particularly in need of one; and Gay Americans don't have the same rights as their fellow countrymen.
Am I missing anything? Oh yeah, privatizing Social Security. Apparently, there are a few Republican candidates running for congress on George W. Bush's 2005 proposal of making everyone's Social Security account private and handing them to the gamblers on Wall Street. This includes the guy who is running to regain his seat in my old district, Michigan's 7th. Does the GOP have any forward-thinking ideas?
The president famously said, "These are the people who drove our country into the ditch and now they want the keys back." That is not a mere slogan. Why, after 8 disastrous years would anyone want to put them back into power?
Can the American people really suffer from a mass case of amnesia and forget what George W. Bush and his Republican enablers did to our country? For our all our sake, I certainly hope not. With some hard work, there is still time to catch the attention of the American voter.