Late Returns: The Diminishing Returns Of Bush Blaming

Jonathan Capehart took a look at the same Karen Tumulty piece I discussed earlier today, and reaches some of the same conclusions -- "No one does panic like Democrats" -- that I did. But Capehart takes the time today to drill one of Tumulty's contributors in particular, Emory University clinical psychologist Drew Westen, for a diagnosis of President Barack Obama's messaging that gives Capehart an "eyeroll."

Obama’s “fundamental error,” Westen said, was not blaming former President George W. Bush and conservative lawmakers early enough and often enough in his term for creating the country’s economic troubles before he got into office.

Capehart notes that Republicans have been "hammering Obama for his propensity to blame President George W. Bush" for at least as long as Obama has been hammering his predecessor for wrecking the economy, which has been more or less "for all time."

He goes on to cite two examples of the ample coverage that's been given to Obama's blaming Bush, and concluded by noting that "poll after poll after poll showing that the American people and Obama are in sync on the question of blame."

So, Capehart proves his point, and I will confirm that Westen's conclusions are, indeed, eyeroll-worthy. But let's also note that Capehart has hit on what is actually something of a puzzling component in Obama's messaging -- as the country is now "in sync" with blaming Bush, what value is there in continuing to harp on it?

I don't really believe that there's any pulpit that's "bully" enough to move the masses in a single speech, but I do think that if you repeatedly take to the bully pulpit to repeat and reinforce basic ideas convincingly enough, this painstaking effort can gradually shift opinion. Which is all the more reason to stop using the bully pulpit to continue to try to convince people to believe something that they already believe. Around the 3,467th time you're told that the Obama administration inherited a recession, you get a case of the eyerolls, too.

Obama is set to deliver a big speech on the economy tomorrow, and Greg Sargent has suggestions of his own on how to draw the right contrast. Blaming Bush, and the dilemma it poses, figures prominently in Sargent's analysis:

The problem Obama faces: He must talk about the past, at least to some degree, in order to explain (1) why the recovery has been slow and difficult; and (2) why what he intends to do about it is better than what Romney would do about it, i.e., a return to policies that have already failed us. In other words, to draw the very contrast Democrats want to see, Obama needs to look backward and forward. This will give Republicans something to attack (he’s blaming Bush!) and it could give nervous Dems something to second guess further. But this strategic dilemma seems unavoidable.

Sure, it may seem unavoidable, but I think that if Team Obama Reelect wants to succeed, they should challenge themselves to avoid continually pointing back to the year 2008 on the calendar and focus on what's at hand. It's a hard task to undertake, sure. But what can I say? It's not supposed to be easy!

The Make-Up Call: Michael Barbaro was roundly crapped upon for that story about how all of Mitt Romney's La Jolla neighbors thought Romney was a jerk. So, he quickly adjusts and pens a big water-carry piece about how Romney's totally going to "turn the tables" on Obama and paint the incumbent as the guy who's really the owner of a gargantuan mansion with a car elevator out of touch with normal Americans. Yes, I'm casting aspersions, but not without cause: As Jonathan Bernstein points out, Barbaro pretty clearly excused himself from doing any critical thinking. [New York Times; The Plum Line]

This Day In Meaningless Political Data Points: John Avlon notes that Mitt Romney is going to lose all of his "home states," which are Massachusetts, California and Michigan. Avlon says this is "uncharted strategic territory" because "never before has a presidential candidate written off their home state." Okay. So what? Can he still very capably get to 270 in the electoral college? Yes? Okay, cool, I don't care. [Daily Beast]

On The Other Hand: Romney's inability to cope with the phenomenon of intermittent doughnut appearances will actually matter slightly more than the fact that he's from Massachusetts. [Slate]

Book Of Mormon: Alex Pareene has this funny feeling that when liberals say they don't want a Mormon president, they mostly mean they don't want Mitt Romney to be president. But, you know, I'll have to check my sources to make sure Senator Harry Reid won re-election in 2010 to be certain. [Salon]

That's A Clown Kicker, Bro: There are many pieces of reporting out there that might include a statement like, "A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren did not immediately return an email seeking comment." But this is the only one that includes that line for the purposes of pointing out that you should not take the reporter seriously ever again. [The Daily Caller]

Political Mythbusting: Jonathan Bernstein debunks five myths about "swing states." (Though I'm going to still disagree with No. 3.) [The Plum Line]

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not?]