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FDR 1936 Poster
Politics is about getting votes

Earlier this week, Matt Yglesias continued his argument that presidential speeches do not matter:

This, right before our eyes, is a living, breathing example of why presidential speechmaking doesn’t do the things people say it does. It doesn’t even have the intended impact on its intended audience! Is Atrios fired up and ready to go? Prepared to stop writing sarcastic, depressed, and dismissive blog posts and instead go hard against the president’s critics, boosting the morale of the president’s audience? No, he’s sarcastic, depressed, and dismissive because the objective situation is depressing and everyone knows the jobs plan won’t pass.

I think this type of thinking is emblematic of a serious failing in Beltway Democratic political thinking in two ways.

First, I hope the "intended audience" for the president's speech was not media types, establishment or otherwise (Atrios being in the otherwise camp). (It so happens that the president's speech got boffo reviews from establishment and non-establishment media types, so if that were the goal, the president's speech "worked.") The president's speech was about starting a political narrative—President Obama wants to do something about jobs and the Republicans do not.

The second failing is misunderstanding that, at this point, presidential speeches will be about his reelection campaign. The president cannot and should not say that this is what is going on, but it is. Ask yourself this: What meaningful initiatives have come out of Washington on the state of the economy this year? The answer is, of course, other than those presented by President Obama, none. The Republican House has presented precisely nothing. This is not surprising—they have nothing to offer. Nor will they agree to any initiatives from the president. The president's job this year has been to limit the damage done by the Congress. His results have been somewhat mixed on this score. This is because he either believed he had to try to work with the radical House, or he felt it would be politically advantageous to be appearing to do so. The latter certainly has not proven true, and with regard to the former, nothing has been accomplished.

The Prime Directive now has to be to win reelection. Policy is over with this Congress. Nothing will be accomplished. So the evaluation of presidential speeches and rhetoric must be viewed through the prism of whether they work politically. What does "work politically" mean? I think this is simple and yet, as Yglesias demonstrates, not well understood by Beltway pundits. It means getting more votes (or keeping the Republicans from getting more votes). It does not mean getting pundits—be they David Brooks or Duncan Black—on board.

Last week, in How To Win Reelection In Bad Economic Times, I posited that:

Here is my thinking on how to win reelection in bad economic times—pin the blame on the other guys. Sure, you say, but how?

Here’s how—show you care (speeches matter). Show you are doing something (announcing things you are doing). Show you are proposing things for the other guys to do. Show that the other guys are not doing anything good.

I thought the president’s speech was successful in all these areas.

Why would this be politically successful as I define it (get more votes)? Because if the voters believe these things, they will be more likely to vote for President Obama and less likely to vote for Republicans.

Saturday, the president continued the push he has sustained since the speech to Congress. As Susan Gardner reported, the president continued his rhetoric that in essence says, the Republicans are doing nothing about the economy. The president said:

So the time for action is now. No more games or gridlock. No more division or delay. It’s time for the people you sent to Washington to put country before party–to stop worrying so much about their jobs and start worrying more about yours.

This new, more combative approach the president has adopted is paying dividends. In the most recent PPP polling (PDF), the president has improved his position:

President Obama’s jobs speech last Thursday night might have given him a boost in his bid for re-election. After tying his perpetually strongest potential challenger Mitt Romney last month, Obama again leads him, but still by a smaller margin than he beat John McCain in the national popular vote three years ago. Everyone else far underperforms McCain, who lost to the president in a near landslide. Obama tops Romney, 49-45, up from a 45-all tie in PPP’s August national poll. He leads Rick Perry, 52-41 (49-43 in August); Newt Gingrich, 53-41; and Michele Bachmann, 53-39 (50-42). [. . .]The president’s more solid standing in the Perry and Romney horseraces comes from consolidating his party support. He was losing 13% of Democrats to each candidate in August, but only 11% to Romney and 9% to Perry now. Obama has meanwhile upped his own crossover support, from 5% to 9% of Republicans versus Romney and 10% to 11% against Perry. The president leads Perry by ten points with independents, but Romney tops Obama by two with them.

Political strategery would suggest that despite any misgivings from David Brooks, Duncan Black or Matt Yglesias, presidential speeches DO matter and the president's rhetoric this week has been good politics. You know why? Because the evidence suggests that it has made people more likely to vote for him and less likely to vote for Republicans.

I hope he keeps it up.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You write (8+ / 0-)
    [A]t this point, presidential speeches will be about his reelection campaign. The president cannot and should not say that this is what is going on, but it is.

    I think this is dead obvious. I would have expected to to be to everyone here. But apparently it is not. I think this goes to the point that all politicians lie--and that people who want a personal connection with pols are unable to accept.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:07:34 PM PDT

  •  The Village is Faced With an Expressive Democrat. (6+ / 0-)

    Granted it's an expressive Democrat who's been philosophically opposed to motivation, and thus no threat to them, for the last two years.

    They can't risk letting the idea of motivation gain any traction left of Limbaugh. There's not much threat of that happening, but as the Neocons say, even a 1% threat has to be fought.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:09:02 PM PDT

  •  My only hope (10+ / 0-)

    is that the MSM will point out that the policies the Republicans are proposing are nothing new. In fact that they are the same policies that got us in this jam.

    A guy has to have a dream.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    by Ex Con on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:13:29 PM PDT

    •  Um, You're gonna need a different hope (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SammyJames, Matt Z

      MSM - "Both sides do it."

      OFA, DNC and we need to spread the news that Repub policies are teh suck.

      Umm, that's PRESIDENT Obama and SENATOR Franken, mr. o'reilly.

      by filby on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:58:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The MSM has had an easy job...and yet lazily has (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      begone, Delilah

      only partially done it. The GOP, enabled both by the chattering beltwayistas and the rainbow farting unicorn portion of the Democratic Party have had a clear field.....
      Two years, eighteen months ahead of an election gives the GOP free reign to perpetually campaign --- unchallenged by a media ( at least untill recently, somewhat ) and free to throw out into the spectrum ideas and concepts that don't withstand much, if any serious scrutiny.

       Scrutiny that would normally be the role of the CB's...except that they are so self occupied with their own perceived importance and bewildered by a changing world that they can't see the forest for the trees..and are rendered into the state personified by such types as David Gregory and the rest of his compadres on the Sunday Circuit. ( probably a good thing that no one actually watches that stuff --- serves more as generator of sound bites and quotes for print and internet media )

       And nothing personifies the lazyness of the MSM more than how quickly they run towards the sound of a dicontent Dem... such an easy story....surely it demonstrates mass unhappieness with the state of the Party and it's leadership...ignoring that the vast amount of voters aren't paying attention --- way too soon --- leaving the field open for the 'discontent Dems', the GOP and the nattering nabobs.

       All that will change in the upcoming weeks and months as the Presidents proposals do indeed morph into a campaign message. And if the message gets enough momentum it will indeed crowd out those who have had the field to themselves for too long.

       And perhaps, by turning message into campaign the President will make it easy for a lazy media to somewhat do their job.

      it tastes like burning...

      by eastvan on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:12:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  52-41 (10+ / 0-)

    gotta hope Perry wins the primary and loses the general.  Those are good numbers.  Close to 2008.  We'd be doing very well if they ended up anywhere near close to that.

    I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

    by James Allen on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:14:54 PM PDT

  •  Go on the offensive, and the poll numbers go up. (9+ / 0-)

    Especially from the base. I'd have never thought that.

    •  Nobody could have imagined... n/t (8+ / 0-)


    •  What? You mean punching hippies DOESN'T work? (5+ / 0-)

      (Try punching teapartiers.  Or Koch brothers.)

      Umm, that's PRESIDENT Obama and SENATOR Franken, mr. o'reilly.

      by filby on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:00:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think the base has just wanted (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Creosote, TexDem, Delilah

      him to start talking about the reality instead of trying to compromise from a starting point that was already too far right.

      I can't find the link right now but I saw a report from a focus group of independents in Cantor's district the night of the Jobs speech. The guy who ran it said Obama knocked it out of the park with that group. They were very positive all the way through on the meter reading. The before and after attitudes were almost more impressive.

      They had come in dispirited, disappointed, discouraged. After they were thinking Obama was far more capable of fixing the economic and unemployment problems than the GOP.

      So thanks, Armando. I have given up on Yglesias, Stoller, Greenwald, Carville and the rest of the 'we want our cake and we want it NOW' crowd.   Been through the civil rights movement, the VN war. Next to the Dream speech, my next favorite MLK work is Letter from Birmingham Jail

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:13:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yglesias doesn't get it (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, Delilah

      About a month ago I was listening while driving to a program produced on my local public radio station with Yglesias debating Drew Westen, author of the NY Times article "What Happened to Obama". Yglesias seems to live in some rarefied plane that fails to grasp what I think is the most fundamental reality of politics - voting is, for the most part, an emotional act, not a rational one. Had they been looking, the driver in front of me must have been amused at the sight of me screaming and beating on my steering wheel as I became increasingly apoplectic at how Yglesias seemed to me to misunderstand Politics 101. Obama needs to use the bully pulpit afforded by the office to hammer the policies of the fringe that has successfully subsumed the Republican party and provide a clear narrative, delivered with passion and fight. This will rouse not only the base but the electorate at large who is looking for leadership, not cool, thoughtful intellect.

      To be clear - while I believe that cool, thoughtful intellect is (along with other things) a good thing for governing, it's not such a good thing for politics and winning elections.

      For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

      by ivorykeyer on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:38:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Will no one think of the moderates? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What will the "moderates" do? Who will they turn to once Democrats have articulated a position? Oh, heavens.

  •  Somewhat OT... (7+ / 0-)

    PPP seems to be doing a good job of establishing themselves as a "narrative-setting pollster" in the mold of Rasmussen.

    Their polls have been getting more and more coverage of late.

  •  Peristence (6+ / 0-)

    is not optional, at this point.

    He must continue, and even ratchet up the message of contrast.

    There doesn't appear to be many other choices for him, now.

    Attack or be painted as weak.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:24:35 PM PDT

  •  To Paraphrase LBJ - Make The Pigfuckers Deny It (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, filby, Matt Z
    "Listen pig-fucker, can I call you pig-fucker?"
    "No, only my friends can call me pig-fucker."

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:35:32 PM PDT

  •  yes they matter - but actions matter too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    actions with poor speech making lose their clout, but speech making without action becomes toothless too.

    •  Well, actions come from congress. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Creosote, The Raven, Delilah

      Right now, what the Pres has to do is plainly show--and loudly repeat and repeat and repeat some more--what the GOP WON'T do.  What they haven't done.  What they are not doing.

      That's how he's going to win...

      And since they do nothing, I hope he hollers plenty and loud and long and we repeat and repeat and repeat it.

      If we want to win in '12, we have to get a bullhorn out and do what they do so well... except we'll be telling the truth.

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

      by cany on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:41:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sadly, there is no legislative action to be had (0+ / 0-)

      while GOPers control the House.

    •  Cany is right (0+ / 0-)

      The President can give speeches, but the Congress is in a mode of saying "no" to anything Obama tries to do.

      He couldn't appoint Elizabeth Warren to the consumer protection agency, and a large number of his judicial appointments are hung up.

      Sure, he does have some executive order authority and he's used that, but mostly he's trapped by the teabaggers who believe that anything Obama tries to do must be blocked no matter what.

      Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

      by The Raven on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:20:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama runs populist and governs elitist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As long as the international economy doesn't implode, Obama has a decent chance to win. If things do get worse, then say hello to President Perry.

    My guess is that the Owning Class wouldn't actually allow any president to throw nukes around ad lib. That might break some of their stuff.

    But Prez Perry would dismantle what little remains of the US social safety net, flush public education down the toilet, help the 1% eat the 20% and convert them into more peons just like the 80%, and justify the whole thing by fanning the flames of homophobia and any other type of phobia that is ready to hand.

    Americans would eat it up, and rush to be flushed into the wastewater of history.

  •  it is startling (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GrumpyOldGeek, mightymouse, Delilah

    that 39% of the country would consider voting for a completely insane creep/fascist like Bachmann.  that is millions of people actually think this poor excuse for a governmental leader (among other things) is worthy of leading the country

    Obama over Michele Bachmann, 53-39

    that shows you how completely over the cliff we have gone - nearly 4 in 10 would vote Bachmann....... (or Palin or Perry..)

    ps - polls now are so meaningless - the fact that cable "teevee" follows every whim as if it is one of Newton's Laws (which i am sure the GOP will deny exist) is more problematic than helpful......

    i think i need a few more shots of Scotch  8-)

    He may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot...Groucho Marx

    by distributorcap on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:45:03 PM PDT

    •  God speaks to her. The voice she hears isn't God. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lucy2009, Zack from the SFV

      It must be that husband of hers that she says she must obey.

      Teh Biebell saiz soe.  

      The other way to look at this seems worse to me. That only a little over 5 in 10 would vote for Obama, one of the best and brightest presidents of my lifetime.

      I have to keep reminding myself that the polling is sampling a lot of people who generally don't pay any attention to politics whatsoever. When they ask them if are likely to vote, it would be embarrassing to say no. Random data points. Meaningless. Early and even more meaningless.

      The TV machine shows a closeup of Bachmann sucking on a ginormous phallic Corndog™, and the polls rise [heh].

      IMO, she's an amateur.

      "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:32:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  agree - clearly amateur (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GrumpyOldGeek, Zack from the SFV

        Let's face it. Most dKos'rs are political junkies, so we're more likely to see Bachmann's amateurish ways. She reminds me of something akin to a one-hit-wonder, having a few (very, very few) fave rants that hit on something with her initial following, but in a debate when questions veered off her favorite lines, she was visibly lost. No threat there - she'd be eaten alive in a general.

        Same with Perry. His honeymoon phase will pass if not already badly maimed. Romney appears to be the likely opposition.

        I agree with other comments here that Obama needs to hammer his message, but most of all he needs to differentiate. The do-nothing Congressional R's are one thing, but I hope O's staff are busy picking apart bit by bit the 160 page Romney plan.

    •  She's out. She can't even garner a crowd (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zack from the SFV, Creosote

      of baggers over 200 in Orange County...

      So okay, keep her in the corner of your eye, but she's out.


      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

      by cany on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:42:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dose of Reality (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This election is phucked. All the other side has to say is 'are you better off now than you were four years ago' and the jig is up.  No amount of wishful thinking will change that.  POTUS delegated the healtcare bill which is to be the centerpiece of his first term to Nancy and Harry and they screwed the pooch on his behalf.  He said pass his stimulus and unemployment wouldnt surpass 8% (FAIL). Millions lose jobs and he plays more golf than Tiger Woods over the last couple of years.  He has spent more nights away from the whitehouse than in it governing during the most tenuous times since the 1930's. James Carvell, as strange as he looks, is very smart and knows the POTUS job hinges on the economy and the economy is not changing anytime soon.

    Obama has failed us all.  If we were smart, we would dump him immediately and run Hillary. People are nostalgic for the Clinton years and she could win.  This is the only chance to hold on to the exectuive branch.  We stay with this guy, we go down with the titanic.

    “I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

    by Dose o Reality on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:49:37 PM PDT

  •  Yes. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    First, I hope the "intended audience" for the president's speech was not media types, establishment or otherwise (Atrios being in the otherwise camp).

    This was my first automatic reaction against Yglesias' post. I'm glad you covered it right away. It was unbelievable that Matthew Yglesias thought that President Obama was speaking to Duncan Black as his primary audience. God help us if that's the case. And Dr. Black would agree, I can state without fear of dissent from the man himself.

    Secondly, insofar as FDR is mentioned, this is an amazing book that parallels the current situation ridiculously well in terms of accomodation, radicalism, and corporate influence. You can get it used from ~$6. I advise that you do so.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:58:11 PM PDT

  •  sorry for stating the obvious (0+ / 0-)

    I may be rather lemming like, easily moved by the last argument I've heard, but I'm reasonably certain my opinion will not change on this.  To your diary, I say amen.

    "'re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view." Obi-Wan Kenobi

    by thepook on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:00:53 PM PDT

  •  Yes -- it IS "Class Warfare," Mr. Graham... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JC from IA, Creosote

    Yes, Mr. Lindsay Graham. It is class warfare. You're damned STRAIGHT it is.

    That is, apparently, what he said on Meet the Press or whatever stupid TV talk show that he was on today. But I'm too smart to fall for his tactic.

    I'm voting for Obama come hell or high water. And given the political -- and real -- climates in this country, either is possible before the 2012 election.

  •  Actions vs. words (0+ / 0-)

    That's pretty much the point of saying that presidential speeches in a bad economy do not work.

    Laying aside the ability to work with Congress, President Obama can do many things without anyone's say-so. The problem is that he hasn't.

    If the President had a track record of his words matching his subsequent deeds, then his speeches would carry more weight. By works is a person known.

    •  I agree, but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orange County Liberal

      I think a lot of the blame has to fall on Pelosi and Reid's heads as well. The narrative that "the Republican Congress doesn't want to do anything" would be more poignant if Pelosi and Reid did more when the Democrats controlled the Congress. When Obama ran, he talked about Green Jobs. They had 2 years to do something.

  •  If only Yglesias was one-half as smart as he think (3+ / 0-)

    he is he would realize that fighting for things gets more votes than surrendering.

    "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed." General Buck Turgidson

    by muledriver on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:23:20 PM PDT

  •  Besides, like it or not... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JC from IA

    NO ONE, except other pundits and wannabes pay the SLIGHTEST attention to pundits.

    Yes, there is a cadre of rabble on the Right that has done considerable damage to liberalism and progressivism but a definite argument can be made that their influence is waning.

    THE singlemost critical urgent important priority for the Democratic party to understand is that they need to do a better job FRAMING debates. They are coming around to stop the "wonk talk" and Obama is making progress pounding at issues from his viewpoint.

    By taking SS OFF the table in debt discussions, he has kept that chestnut in his larder, and backtracking on cuts to Medicare may help him there too.

    At SOME point (one would think) people should begin to reevaluate their negative view of Obama as they see  that Obama TRYING to do something is more desirable than Republicans OBSTRUCTING everything.

    One can only hope.

    I have begun talking with friends and associates who badmouth Obama with this challenge: "Tell me ONE good idea the GOP has for solving the economic crisis except cutting taxes, because cutting taxes is what GOT US into this mess in the first place."

    Crickets usually ensues. Hopefully to be followed by a reevaluation of their political preferences.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:27:16 PM PDT

  •  Yes, sir, yes indeed. The point of the exercise (0+ / 0-)

    is to win the election.  Because, if you do not win the election, you do not get to play.  At all.

    It is very refreshing to hear this.  Well said.

  •  I laughed my butt off at this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV, Creosote
    At the recent so-called tea party Debate co-hosted by notorious liberal media organization CNN, Wolf Blitzer posed a question to Rep. Ron Paul. (bolding mine)

    Oh if only it were true!

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

    by cany on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:35:11 PM PDT

  •  gawd. It would be a full Raygun for Obama to LIE (0+ / 0-)

    and bullshit his way back into office!

    ha ha ha!

    well, it worked for Bush Two, Too.

    I haven't parsed every comma of every one of your missives in the last few months, but

    IF you think we need 0bama cuz of the supreme court,

    AND you look at his lies & duplicity & sell outs,

    AND you think he isn't gonna sell you out on the Supreme Court?  

    whatever.  good luck with that.

    I've given up on him.

    Let him win with all those independently middelly muddled centerly swinging moderates, AND, all the foot stomping pissed off libs who are going to vote LOTE for the umpteenth time in their lives ... for the last time.

    ha ha


    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:43:34 PM PDT

    •  He's appointed two women to the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ORDem, Delilah

      court, both with very decent records.

      Do you not like his appointees?

      202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

      by cany on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:45:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and when the balance matter$... he'll ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        let the bush tax cuts die the death they should have died?

        I'm sure you'll get your fig leaves.


        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 08:48:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Respectfully, I asked a specific question... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JC from IA

          given you mentioned SCOTUS.

          So I ask again, do you not like his appointees?

          202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them.

          by cany on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:38:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  right (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TruthMerchant, seabos84, Delilah

      You give up on him. I guess that means you are and have been a Republican, hoping to get Dems to 'give up' and stay home.... because - if they do, a Republican would win. That is the only possible consequence and therefore gives you away. Please take yourself back where you come from. Thanks.

    •  DADT (0+ / 0-)

      But I guess that doesn't matter to you. You didn't get your pony, so to heck with other people's civil rights!

      •  I got enslavement to fucking insurance companies (0+ / 0-)

        instead of health care access.

        If you want to learn how to count, you might have noticed that the few decent and right and good things 0bama does cost NOTHING compared to ripping off the entire country for AHIP, Pharma, MIC, Big Energy, Wall Street ...

        getting a pony is NOT having a Democratic President who is a fucking sell out?

        ha ha ha.


        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:41:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's still weaksauce... (0+ / 0-)

    Oooh look, everyone!  Try the new Obama - now with a hint of confrontation!  Whatever.  It's the same old "responsible adult" bullshit, just with a dash of tabasco to dress it up for the election.  That hasn't won over many "independents" to date and it won't work to any significant degree now.

    If Obama wants any real gains from this approach, then he has to start aggressively calling out Republicans by name on their bullshit and lack of alternatives.  Not this continued weak, third person crap: "It’s time for the people you sent to Washington to put country before party–to stop worrying so much about their jobs and start worrying more about yours."  Tsk, tsk - I'm gonna tell teacher on you!  What a joke.

    Get in their faces and hammer the Republicans on their crap or keep trying to play aggressive patty-cake and lose to the tea party, sending the country further down the drain.

  •  Behind the Curtain (0+ / 0-)

    What Armando says:

    Here is my thinking on how to win reelection in bad economic times—pin the blame on the other guys. Sure, you say, but how?

    Here’s how—show you care (speeches matter). Show you are doing something (announcing things you are doing). Show you are proposing things for the other guys to do. Show that the other guys are not doing anything good.

    I thought the president’s speech was successful in all these areas.

    What he really means:

    Here is my thinking on how to win reelection in bad economic times—pin the blame on the other guys. Sure, you say, but how?

    Here’s how—[pretend] you care (speeches matter). [Pretend] you are doing something (announcing things you [pose as] doing). [Pretend] you are proposing things for the other guys to do. [Imply] that the other guys are not doing anything good.

    [Hope the American people are stupid and low-information enough to swallow this bs a second time round]

    [I'm really hoping the president is successful at this]

    This aggression will not stand, man.

    by kaleidescope on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:25:45 PM PDT

    •  Obama CANNOT fake his stuff. (0+ / 0-)

      He will be held accountable for all he says.  He is pushing the people in his own party as well as leading them.  They have to perform to be re-elected.  He is PUSHING the Senate and campaigning for the House seats.  Only if he has the congress can he get  anything of substance done.  In my opinion a continuing filibuster in the Senate would be the total death of the Republican party forever.  The American middle/independent classes have had enough of that crap.

      •  not really (0+ / 0-)

        All Obama has to do is not be completely crazy. He can certainly "fake" whatever needs faking, as he is, after all, running for office.

        In my opinion a continuing filibuster in the Senate would be the total death of the Republican party forever.

        And this is exactly backwards-- a filibustering Senate is what the average GOP voter is looking for, and a dysfunctional government is always taken as proof that the GOP is right. It's brilliant in a sick kind of way.

        If we lose the Senate, our best hope for Obama's second term is that he vetoes everything that gets to him.

  •  shorter yglesias: (0+ / 0-)

    it doesn't matter what obama says. just fall in line like the mindless automatons you're supposed to be.

    Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want rain without thunder and lightening...Power [including obama] concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. ~ Frederick Douglass

    by stolen water on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:52:22 PM PDT

  •  Well Obama's speeches. . . (0+ / 0-)

    don't matter -- as The Great American Public is beginning to find out.  He makes gorgeous speeches with wonderful ideas, then nothing happens. Big disappointment.
       I want him to win 2012 and I'll vote for him and work for him, but frankly it is to ensure liberal Supreme Court appointments, and not much else.  But it IS time for a
    white male from west of the Mississippi River to be appointed to the SCOTUS -- preferably two such, to even things out.
       I want it to all go away for the next 12-months, then re-convene the campaign in time to vote.
       SO, VOTE FOR OBAMA!!!  (There ain't nobody else!)

    •  This speech, if followed though upon, might matter (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I've been no fan of Obama but he finally said some things that needed to be said. He finally, 3 1/2 years in put up a real, honest to goodness plan of his OWN. Sounding reasonably Trumanesque as well. He's presented a question they can't answer.

      What some people here are missing is that if it continues loud and clear the GOP has no response. It's a taunt. Here's a plan that historically would pass both houses regardless of who runs them. Ah, but we don't have traditional Republicans any more, we have Neocons and teabaggers. And they don't have a plan. They CANNOT come up with a plan that involves government.

      If Obama takes some poker lessons between now and the end of the year he can raise the ante on jobs and call! Because the 'pubs are bluffing and if we stay on message and keep offering the taunt "What do you have to create jobs?" they'll be screwed one way or the other. They walk away from jobs or they raise taxes.

      It's not 11 dimensional chess by any means, but a workable rhetoric that might unseat them from the House and limit their gains in the Senate. And help us hold the White House to save the SCOTUS.

  •  Well, insofar as all elections are ulimately about (0+ / 0-)

    getting more votes than the other side, sure, presidential speeches and actions with respect to an election are about that. But it's not merely a direct line from speech and action to votes. After all, voters are mostly fickle and apathetic, and those votes a candidate can pick up through speeches and actions that he or she isn't guaranteed to get can only be picked up this way in the month or so before an election. Go back further and they forget both and are liable to be swayed by more recent ones (either more convincing one from the competition, or underming ones from said candidate).

    However, indirectly, speeches and actions are critical and decisive, in terms of winning over donors both big and small, inspiring people to volunteer to work in campaigns instead of merely voting or donating the obligatory $25, rallying politicians and other leaders in one's own party to do much more than just offer perfunctory support, give one's campaign a sense of inspiring missions and purpose that gives it the auro of being a winner--and, yes, also win over pundits, who can make a difference sometimes.

    Speeches especially are also important, although less so within the timespan of an election campaign, in gradually winning the populace over to one's (or one's side's) ideological perspective, and shifting the Overton window of what is acceptable, feasible and desirable in contemporary political reality. Lincoln did this in the 1860 campaign (heh). FDR did this during the 30's. Reagan did this in the 80's. If Obama wants to be the transformational president that he seems to want to be, he will have to do this himself. Only it won't matter if his inspiring speeches aren't matched by inspiring actions.

    We'll see, as always.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 09:54:26 PM PDT

  •  I like Armando's diaries... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ....because they are always focused, simple, plainly stated and compelling workproduct.   Thank you, Armando, for volunteering your views here on DK.

  •  It's "Give em hell, Harry". And it _WILL_ work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Noodles, mightymouse

    This president MUST clearly define the difference between Republicans and Democrats.  Not just the difference between himself and the moron that the Republican lunatics pick to run against him.  His latest tax hike on the millionaires is the right stuff at the right time.

  •  Everyone loves speeches. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    v2aggie2, chuckvw

    Beltway pundits most of all, but also bloggers, who share the idea that all that is really necessary to win a legislative battle or an election is a well-delivered speech, like you see on the West Wing or The American President or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington or any other media invention that says that what we can most easily control - what we say - is what guarantees victory - and all those other, more complicated, less manageable factors, well, they aren't important, so don't worry over them.

    Unfortunately, as Yglesias (among others) have pointed out, there is no scientific evidence that presidential speeches affect public opinion.  But who needs science, right?  A positive poll result followed that speech.  Surely that means that the speech caused the positive poll result!

    If anything embodies "beltway Democratic political thinking", it's this, the notion that because we have traditionally believed a tactic to be effective, because we have wanted the tactic to be effective, then evidence be damned, it must be effective.  So because they've always believed those speeches to be effective, they must be.  They'd rather keep the delusion than the White House.

    •  Ugh (0+ / 0-)

      You're claiming on Yglesias' behalf of the "mantle of science" on this is freaking hilarious.

      Yep, that data you present in favor of your point of view is impressive. Except, wait, you didn't present ANY evidence.

      You win the Internets!

  •  Wait three years (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water, bluesteel, mightymouse

    Create a narrative...

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam - Washington isn't broken -- it's fixed.

    by chuckvw on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 11:51:36 PM PDT

    •  ow, that was like painful laughter. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      i'm going to jump off the roof now.

      Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation…want rain without thunder and lightening...Power [including obama] concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. ~ Frederick Douglass

      by stolen water on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 12:09:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water

    agree but he must be more forcefull in trying to effect change with these blowhards in the rethug column and the consevative democrats. He should call them out by name. Americans are justly very angry and Obama should reflect that anger. This will make him more popular.

    "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between" Oscar Wilde

    by angry hopeful liberal on Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 11:59:57 PM PDT

  •  The conservative objective is to have (0+ / 0-)

    fewer people voting.  24/7/365 they work on thinning the electorate.  They don't divide to conquer; the segregate targets because smaller cohorts are easier to wipe out.

    There are many facets to "smaller government," but one of the main ones aims to reduce the size of the population that is qualified to participate.  Universal suffrage is a royal pain.

    by hannah on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 02:15:22 AM PDT

  •  good diary (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  •  He does need to push on (0+ / 0-)

    There's no sense in sitting back hoping that the Republicans will compromise.  make it clear that they won't and that they have no ideas on how to create jobs.  All we heard from Republicans is same old tired nonsense that creates wealth for the wealthy and nothing more.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 04:21:29 AM PDT

  •  Narrative continuity (0+ / 0-)

    "The president's speech was about starting a political narrative—President Obama wants to do something about jobs and the Republicans do not."

    That way of putting it makes the problem really clear.  Obama just finished spending the last year agreeing to the Teahadist narrative that we face a deficit apocalypse, that taking even desperate measures to avert this apocalypse was absolutely central to fixing the economy, and thus addressing jobs.  One day Obama is pressing even larger cuts in old spending, even putting the socail safety net on the table, than the Rs, and then the next day he puts out a stimulus package with new spending.  That's not starting a narrative, that's hopelessly muddling any chance that the long-term narrative thread of R/D differences not become hopelessly lost.

    "The president's job this year has been to limit the damage done by the Congress."

    That job would have been easy, considering that the Rs only have a simple majority in only one of the two chambers of Congress.  Whatever damaging things the House did that made it past the D Senate could have been blocked, completely and entirely, with simple, one-line, uses of the veto pen.

    The actual job Obama set for himself, though, was not to limit damage done by the Teahadists, but to cooperate with them, take them on as negotiating partners, in their quest to lower taxes for the wealthy and cut spending on social programs.  No, that's not quite right, that how a D president following the long-established narrative would have characterized the Rs this last year.  This year a D president agreed to characterize this long-term R pursuit as being responsible about the deficit.

    We should have destroyed the presidency before Obama took office. Too late now.

    by gtomkins on Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 05:06:46 AM PDT

  •  yep...they matter (0+ / 0-)

    And for all the reasons you say.

    But the biggest reason is the 'big big story' speeches like this can create.  It's really basic: to win an election, the biggest of big stories out there needs to be "our guy should be President." It's so obvious it almost sounds stupid. But what the GOP has done over the past 3 years is go hard at that story.  The depressed media Left also did a bit of that, although it's a drop in the bucket by comparison--half a drop, maybe.  

    If you look someone like Perry, all he really says over and over again is "Rick Perry should be President, Barack Obama should not be."  And Obama has been really lax at letting this stay out there.  He has been more drawn to policy talk.  That's why so much frustration has emerged as we head into the narrows of the election season.  If you think about it, a presidential election is just two side screaming the same thing over and over again for 16 months ("Our guy should be president!").  But for the past 6 months, only one side has been screaming.

    So the joint sessions speech WAS significant bcs it was the first time Obama has really tried to reset the big big story.  

    To hold that story moving forward, Obama cannot let any stupid GOP snipe go unanswered from now until 11.12.  He must must MUST stop talking policy on the stump and start using every opportunity to say "I should be President."

    (also:  is this really an Armando diary or did I hit my head and am now dreaming I'm in 2004?)

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