For months now, American’s views of the Obama economy have been steadily eroding. In light of this immutable fact, the president’s team has tested a series of narratives that seek to reframe the economy in more populist terms in the hopes of making the issue about emotions rather than crummy statistics. At the same time, they have also tested all sorts of non-economic messages in the hopes of keeping the national conversation away from the increasingly shaky economic picture.
Given the conditions, it is the best strategy. The tactics and specifics messages that they have chosen, however, are complete losers. Moreover, they were testable, knowable losers before Team Obama ever paraded them out.
For example, the class warfare argument might be appropriate to France in 1789, but Gallop actually tracks the attitudes of modern, post-Bastille Americans towards the rich and discovered that we like them, need them, and really want to be them.
In May of 1990, Gallup found that 62% of Americans believe we all benefit from the rich. After a full year of Obama’s demonization of the wealthy, industrious, and successful people of society, Gallup found that support has clicked up to 63%.
Likewise, Gallup asked if folks would like to among the evil wealthy. Yup, the survey found 63% of us also want to be rich. That’s up from 59% in 1990 when a lot of us were just relieved we’d made it through the Eighties.
So while all of the class warfare, tax the rich, “fair share” nonsense has certainly helped eat up the clock and has probably prodded a few self-hating leftists to write big checks, it has not contributed significantly to re-electing Obama and has likely done a good deal more harm.
Likewise, the gay marriage announcement may have been pushed by Uncle Joe, but the White House claims that they intended to make this announcement in a few weeks anyway. So taking them at their word, they planned all along to run on Obama’s personal support for gay marriage. They seem to believe that this is a huge political winner and the fawning media is playing right along. It’s a lovely narrative aside from being completely untethered from reality.
The reality is this: gay marriage is 0-32 at the ballot box. Moreover, it looses just as badly now as it did five years ago. Another recent Gallup survey, taken after the President’s announcement, found that the decision will negatively affect the independent vote by a two-to-one margin. In one fell swoop, the President lost North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia.
So while the media loves to brag that “half of Americans” now support gay marriage, the reality is that far more than half of voters don’t. This may be driving the pull-back. After the media storm, Obama quietly announced that he does not support federal action on gay marriage, nor does he want gay marriage to be part of the Democrat Party platform. So when the smoke cleared, Obama’s actual position was the same as Dick Cheney’s except Dick Cheney didn’t antagonize voters in the process.
Another prime example is the attack on religious liberty regarding Obamacare mandates to church organizations. Just like the gay marriage issue, the birth control mandate warmed the organic hummus of the liberal talking head set and overly earnest women’s studies grads, but it is a huge electoral loser. Worse, it’s an electoral losers riding on the back of a law that most people hate and may never take effect. All of which leaves me to ask, at what price the adoration of a few welfare soaks and their cheerleaders?
That segues nicely to Julia. Julia is the deeply creepy, Orwellian vision of Obama’s world without accomplishment, merit, honor, or dignity; an America where we all trade our critical thinking and our rational interests for a cost of living siphon from our betters. Can you imagine anything more disassociated from our American story?
All of which leads me back to the original question, does the President want to lose? Or do all of these decisions, seemingly at odds with the objective of retaining the White House, actually reflect a deep-seeded ideological commitment to progressive philosophy coupled with a naïve belief that somehow he will ultimately convince the electorate?
The only other explanation would seem to be that Team Obama thinks they can run a Karl Rove-style base strategy by exciting liberals with red meat. If that’s the case, I would refer them to the Gallup survey that shows that there are twice as many self-identifying conservatives as there are liberals.
Whether it comes down to arrogance, self-delusion, ideological rigidity, or tactical incompetence doesn’t really matter in the end. The dye may already be cast. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see how Obama can cobble his remaining base -- rich liberals, non-religious minorities, and public employees -- into a winning coalition.