Obama speech preview: ‘We can’t afford to go back to failed policies’
posted at 11:28 am on June 14, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
With poll after poll painting a bleak picture of Barack Obama’s chances for re-election, a Gallup survey released on Thursday offers him and his supporters a reason for optimism. The poll finds that Americans continue to place more blame for the nation’s economic ills on George W. Bush than on Obama. The president’s nearly term-long quest to persuade voters to overlook his own failed policies by ascribing conditions to “the mess he inherited” has worked.
Now if only there were some way he could arrange to run against Bush instead of Mitt Romney! That would surely mitigate the sting of knowing that 52% of Americans still hold him, not Bush, accountable for the economy, a stat culled from the same Gallup poll.
Alternatively, he could give another speech. Which in fact is what he plans to do today. The White House has made it clear that Obama will not be announcing any new strategies for jump-starting the economy, but he will be doubling down on his “Bush done it” meme. His argument’s main theme—we can’t afford to go back to the failed policies of the past—will also sound a familiar chord.
With so much riding on it, his staff will doubtless be revising and re-revising the speech right up until post time. They will additionally have at their disposal ideas being floated by their allies in the elite media. Here is a helpful suggestion from Washington Post opinion writer Greg Sargent, who counsels:
He [Obama] 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 backwards and forward.
Hmm … explain why “a return to policies that have already failed us” would be bad for the country. Sounds familiar. But, Sargent notes, there is a danger in this strategy:
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.
There is no question that the president has his work cut out for him. The idea of giving a speech, which was once seen by supporters as Obama’s singular strength, lost its luster some time ago, around his thousandth address to the nation. The question today is whether anyone apart from political junkies will even be listening.
Certainly, the Romney camp will be. They should home in on that novel line about how America can’t afford to go back to the failed policies of the past, only the past they should focus on are the years 2009 through 2012.
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