The backtrack on the Ground Zero mosque and the recent attack on the “professional Left” has analysts identifying a “new” Barack Obama problem: incoherence. CNN’s Ed Hornick collects input, mainly from Obama’s past supporters, to complain that White House messaging has gone off the rails. Hornick suggests a new model for Obama to follow, and it’s not Ronald Reagan:
“The danger here is an incoherent presidency,” said David Morey, vice chairman of the Core Strategy Group, who provided communications advice to Obama’s 2008 campaign. “Simpler is better, and rising above these issues and leading by controlling the dialogue is what the presidency is all about. So I think that’s the job they have to do more effectively as they have in the past [in the campaign].” …
“There is no question they are having messaging problems at the White House,” Morey said. “They’ve lost control of the dialogue, and they’ve gotten pulled down by the extremes on the left and right. They’ve just not had a coherent set of themes.” …
“Communicating as a law professor does not work as president. It’s not worked,” he said. “You’re drawing fine distinctions and speaking in long enough paragraphs that they can be misconstrued and taken out of context and frankly, handed to your opposition to exploit. And that’s clearly what’s going on here [with the Islamic center/mosque comments].”
While many poked fun at former President George W. Bush for mispronouncing words and stumbling through sentences, observers note that he rarely had to backtrack on his answers because he employed a simple and direct messaging approach.
To which I have to add: Have any of these people actually read The Audacity of Hope? Anyone who did would not have any trouble recognizing the problem. I used the audio version of the book and got halfway through it before giving up. It’s filled with platitudinous statements such as “Republicans are usually wrong about X, but Democrats aren’t always right,” voiced in the inimitable lecturesome tone of voice from Obama with which we have all become so familiar.
Incoherence and hair-splitting is nothing new with this President. However, as I noted yesterday, Obama has rarely blundered into such an emotional minefield as as this issue has become (fairly or unfairly), and the media hasn’t had to pay much attention to it. By attempting to once again lecture people on how wrong most of us are on either side of an issue, Obama has exposed himself once again as a person who doesn’t engage well with the American people he seeks to lead.
Tim Pawlenty noted the same thing on Sean Hannity’s show:
This goes far beyond the Ground Zero mosque. The same clueless, tone-deaf disconnect at the White House led to the “Recovery Summer” PR campaign, in which Obama and Joe Biden have lectured us about how great things are while all of the evidence points to a significant decline in the economy. While the country demanded a change of economic policy to encourage real growth, the White House and Congress instead insisted on spending nine months to give birth to ObamaCare, a bill so unpopular that six out of ten voters want it repealed. While joblessness continues to deepen, Obama and the Democrats are taking money out of food stamps to fund a bill that will tell taxpayers how to eat.
The problem is not just incoherence, although that’s a part of it. It’s arrogance, and that’s nothing new at all from Barack Obama — and he has the book to prove it.
Update: Keith Hennessey nailed this yesterday as well:
At 9.5%, the unemployment rate is 1.8 percentage points higher today than when the President took office. There are 3.3 million fewer U.S. jobs than there were in January 2009. The U.S. economy has lost jobs in 12 of the 18 months he has been office, including the last two months.
In early August of last year, the President declared that, thanks in part to his policies, the U.S. economy was “pointed in the right direction.” We have lost jobs in six of the 12 months since then, for a net decline of 52,000 jobs. The 9.4% unemployment rate when he made this statement climbed to 10.1% and has since declined to 9.5%, still higher than it was last August.
The President signed into law an $862 billion stimulus law and two health laws that will create$788 billion of new entitlements over the next decade. Combine these with countless other smaller spending bills, several of which were labeled as emergencies and therefore not paid for, and the U.S. government is $2.5 trillion more in debt than on the day this President took office. That’s $8,000 more debt for every American man, woman, and child.