Obama’s Current Media Strategy
As Ben Smith points out, during the campaign, Obama played down any notion of his opposition as extreme, confrontational, or otherwise divisive. In essence, he didn't want America to become afraid of him as a candidate due to his being too controversial. But things have changed.
On the one hand, he's actually being confrontational. That's exhibited with his Go for it nonsense regarding any repeal effort. He actually said that on the same day a poll indicates 55% of Americans want his bad HCR repealed. A better man would have tried to mend fences, not widen gaps.
Big picture, that's extremely sad, as he's willing to insult a majority of Americans as part of what he sees as a winning messaging strategy. It's impossible to respect someone like that. But it's what we're stuck with for now.
At the same time, Dem orgs, officials and office holders have begun, not only playing up any extreme opposition, they're even exaggerating it – witness the Carnahan coffin caper as just one example. So, what's going on?
Obama wants his opposition painted as extremist, he just doesn't want his fingerprints on the artwork. And he knows that the media is not likely to call him out for using his Go for it rhetoric in the face of broad public disapproval. They're more than happy to carry his water and ignore that his message is actually impacting citizens as a whole.
It's a repulsive strategy designed to make him look as though he's in command and above it all, while his critics are portrayed as unhinged. It's also dangerous given the manipulation of public anger involved. But it seems to be the type of unprincipled so called leadership we're stuck with for the time being. We need to fight back against his agenda forcefully, but also be smart.
It's imperative to take the House in 2010 and gain what we can in the Senate. Only by elevating the Republican voice in Congress to a position of strength, will the people have a voice capable of speaking for us without quite the risk we now face of being played by his political machine.
There's some debate over whether the strategy of engaging, even hyping, the other side's extremist behavior has been working. Greg suggests it just conveys the general impression that health care is controversial. Its defenders argue that conservatives are simply out of control and that Democrats have no choice but to respond in the face of real fears of violence. The fears of violence on the campaign, of course, were real too, and Obama's detail was always more tightly wound than his rivals'. And the Democrats' decision to publicly engage the threats, and to use them as a metaphor for broader Republican sentiment, reflects a real departure from what many now see as a hopeless goal of portraying the party, and the president, as unifying.