I was just watching CNN’s coverage of the President’s address to a woman’s group in Ohio Women’s Group. I didn’t find the text of the speech, but talking points can be found here. Like the ads recently released for his reelection campaign, his talking points seem to be: I inherited a recession; nobody could have predicted 9/11; jobs aren’t being produced faster due to several factors including increased productivity (go team!); so let’s not increase taxes and make cuts permanent. (Simplified for conciseness) I don’t wish to debate any of these points as I’m sure that they are currently being discussed somewhere elsewhere on this board. My question is this, how effective is this likely to be as a campaign strategy?
A couple of weeks ago California’s governor successfully used a similar strategy with a ballot initiative to borrow to solve a coming loan payment. But it that case it the message was: I inherited this problem, this (props 57 & 58) will solve it, so vote for it. Whereas the President’s message is more along the lines of: I inherited this problem, the fix is done, although you can’t see it yet, but just wait it’ll happen, so vote for me. What say you?
Schwarzenegger could get away with the tactic because he was elected in an unorthodox recall election, and has only been at the job for 100 days or so. “I inherited the problem” is a simple truism there.
Bush can’t get away with the tactic because he’s been at the job for four years, and everything is still eff’d up. Other Presidents have accomplished more in less time, but only because they weren’t dinking around with a pointless war in Iraq and handouts for billionare croneys. Unfortunately, Bush doesn’t have any accomplishments he can run on, so this – plus waving the terrorism bogeyman puppet – is all he’s got to work with.
He still has “aw shucks”. Do not underestimate the power of this sort of appeal. Every culture has its equivalent of “the nice guy” image, and regardless of what he may have done, Bush can do a fairly good “nice guy” shuck-and-jive.
After 3+ years of the Presidency, Bush seems to have lost his cheerfulness and optimism, especially when he’s called on to defend the indefensible, er, his policies. He seems increasingly uneasy, like a student presenting a rather weak paper who’s hoping he doesn’t have to answer any questions about it. The end of the term’s coming, he hasn’t done his assignments, he’s in trouble, and he knows it. If this were Yale, he could hope to skate through with a gentleman’s C, and I’m sure he’s hoping to somehow skate through this election, too. But he’s lost that belief that he’s charmed, that everything will somehow work out for him even if he totally screws up, the way it did with Arbusto and Harken and the Rangers.
Well, some would call the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan accomplishments, and there are lots of people who feel he did a good job steering the nation through 9/11 and its aftershocks. They’re wrong, of course, but Bush’s re-election strategy hinges on there being enough of them.
The “it’s not my fault” strategy is to get people focused on his strong points - hus response to 9/11 and terrorism, and also his “No Child Left Behind” education bill, which he’s sure to tout.
If people blame him for the bad economy, it’s a negative that could offset those positives of his. If he can deflect and neutralize the economy argument by convincing voters it wasn’t his fault, it will keep his positives clean.
Many people think the president’s relation to the economy is that of a talisman, like a long haired troll at a bingo game. Thus if the economy is doing well the president is doing well and if the economy is sluggish the president is doing a bad job. There are others who understand the complexity of the economy and how a president has to play the hand he is dealt. Presumably the president’s remarks were directed at these people with the hope that they would be opinion leaders. Evidently this tactic is going over the heads of some, and the hope that enough voters will look at the president as policy maker instead of talisman is probably mistaken. However, the president should still make the arguement because to do otherwise would be to sell the public short.
Call me an idealist, but I’d like to think the United States of America stood for something a bit more spiritually uplifting than a 20% discount on bulk underwear and schlocky trinkets produced overseas.
I’m more confused by the Kerry strategy. He’s basically blaming the President for an unemployment rate that most Euro heads would kill for. This was done after a recession and during a major attack on US soil. Interest rates are great, productivity is high, and the already low unemployment rate of 5.6% appears to be improving beyond that number. The Dow Jones Average took a dump today and still closed above 10,000. Add to this mix a new entitlement program for senior citizens.
Then there are national security issues. 2 war’s have been fought and there are now 2 countries with interim constitutions in place. This was done at a far faster pace than reconstruction after WW-II and without the help of the UN or most of Europe. The Iraqi economy is moving forward and for the first time in anyone’s lifetime there is the potential for a self governed nation in a region that has never known religious freedom. Cultural and religious factions have stayed the course despite continued attempts from outside groups to divide them through violence.
The same European nations that opposed the war and refused any help are now talking about forgiving large amounts of Iraqi debt which is what President Bush asked for from the beginning.
Leadership is doing the right thing at the right time without waiting for open ended political solutions that never materialize.
Geez, Magiver, by that logic, we should all vote for George W. Bush because the average worker in the United States makes far more money than the lowliest peasant in rural China. :rolleyes: The issue is not “things could be worse,” it’s “look at how far we’ve fallen in the last four years.”
As for Afghanistan and Iraq, I didn’t recall Bush campaigning in 2000 on a platform to remake foreign governments. And it’s still rather suspicious that our biggest “aid project” happens to be a country that’s sitting on one of the world’s largest reserves of oil – given the lack of military intervention elsewhere, why, one would almost believe the Bushies are in this just for the money! :eek:
It may be relatively low by everyone else’s standards, but the majority of Americans are aware that they are poorer or have more unemployed friends than they did pre-Bush. Most of them couldn’t care less if other states had 20% unemployment; all that matters to many is that things were better under Clinton.
Besides, part of Kerry’s strategy is pointing out that the recession itself is Bush’s fault.
I think a lot of Americans care more about the 2 and a half million jobs that have been lost over the last few years than what the current productivity numbers are.
At some point, I think Americans may start wondering why huge tax cuts for the wealthy were so important, when 1) no jobs have been created and 2) the deficit is out of control.
Relating this back to the OP, I think Bush’s “it’s not my fault” policy on economic issues is a real loser. In my mind, it is only that far away from being as out of touch as Bush Sr’s tragic fall when he was amazed a supermarket scanner.
It is clear, so far, that Bush is just doing a rear guard action on his economic record while charging hard on national security issues. Sound like Number 41 at all?
Not Bright I think that will be an interesting aspect of this years race. Whether the american people are so economicall illiterate that they would blame Bush for a recession that started before he was elected and has been replaced by the current good economic situation. The patriot in me says that the won’t buy what Kerry is selling, but the cynic in me says no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the american public.
I don’t understand your post at all. The unemployment rate is already low. 5.6% coming out of a recession is a number unheard of in this country. The fact that many of the jobs lost were the direct result of an attack against this country is an easily understood concept. The aviation industry took a pasting in every sense of the word. I would say that people care more about dying then temporary unemployment.
And you response about Afghanistan is just… dull (trying to think of a polite word). Of course the President didn’t mention Afghanistan or Iraq before the election, the United States hadn’t been attacked yet. What does that have to do with the success of the operation? Nothing.
I suspect you are drawing this association out of thin air. Please provide a cite that “many” of the 2.5 million jobs lost in the last four years are due to the 9/11 attacks, as opposed to runaway outsourcing and lackluster leadership from the White House.
The war in Afghanistan was a direct response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The war in Iraq was nothing more than an immoral invasion of a country that posed no threat to us, justified with lies about WMD stockpiles and nonexistent mobile labs. Any claims that either war was waged as charity to improve the lives of the folks in those nations is flimsy excuse-making after-the-fact. Your attempts to paint the wars as “successes” in nation-building waged purely for altruistic purposes are unsupported by the facts.