Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hitting the Nail on the Head

I like listening to Bob Schieffer's final commentary at the end of "Face the Nation" each week. Sometimes I take him to task for what he says (i.e. here), but today's thoughts were right on target:

"And finally today, when the president when to a school in Montgomery County not far from the White House last week to push his plan for Social Security reform, The Washington Post called it a town hall style meeting. Choir practice style meeting would have been more accurate. Once again, the president was preaching to the choir: an invitation-only crowd. Those who disagreed were made to stand outside. The White House could not say if the audience included any actual Montgomery County residents.

Like most of the president's proposals, Social Security reform is in deep trouble. The administration blames the Democrats, and that's part of it. But I think it has more to do with spending so much time preaching to the choir. This White House takes great pride in being resolute, in standing apart from the rest of Washington, especially those who disagree with them. But the votes were never there to pass the president's Social Security reform package, and everybody knew it but the White House. The administration has badly misread the public mood on the Schiavo case and stem cell research, and it's backed itself into a time-wasting corner on who should be UN ambassador.

I like politicians who stand by their principles, who refuse to bend to every kick and every poll. But it is hard to get much done when you spend all your time with the choir and lose touch with the rest of the congregation.

President Bush will have his chance with the congregation Tuesday night. Will he put it to good use? Or will we get more of the same?


At 5:10 PM, Blogger The Cynical Liberal said...

He'll have to take off his rose-colored glasses first.

But I wouldn't either, if I were him. That would force him to take a hard look at Bolton, at Iraq, at Iran and North Korea, at the overall war on Terror, and the fact that the Republicans are slowly backing away from him (except for the neocons, of course). And why on earth would he want to do that? The positive perception is so much nicer.

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Phil S said...

Nice to know that there are some journalists still around who aren't afaid to call a spade a spade!!

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

Problem with the Bushies is they rely too much on marketing techniques. Got a product to sell, stage a well-coordinated event, invite some media and get lots of free coverage that will boost sales.

Problem is, marketing techniques only work on products that aren't well known. Social Security is well known and if you're going to get the consumer to switch to New Coke, you better dang well convince them that New Coke is actually better. Otherwise, they'll just want to stick to the classic.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Tom - doubts and all said...

Alan is insightful as usual. I believe it will be more of the same because the rule of the big lie demands it.

The Bushites are as much propagandists as marketers and think droning continuation of their line(s) will ultimately convince a majority of just about anything.

Here's hoping the American people don't continue to confuse stubborn repetition with principle.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger cakreiz said...

I don't buy the Big Lie, Evil Rovian Marketers, or Sinister Repacking theories; the President is sincere in his core beliefs. However, "staying the course" is a long-held Bush-family trait. That's what we'll get. In my world, pragmatism often equals strength. But hey, what do I know?

At 12:03 AM, Blogger JBD said...

cynical - or at least easier to deal with!

cakreiz - I think you're right in saying pragmatism often equals strength, but I'm not sure the Administration has shown much pragmatism lately. As for what do you know - just as much as the rest of us; keep contributing!

At 6:48 AM, Blogger cakreiz said...

jbd: my frustration has more to do with the President's lack of imagination- something we rarely expect in our pols these days. Bush and Rove are very comfortable playing to their base. This isn't sinister or mean-spirited; they believe in those core principles. As Michael Reynolds argues, that's fine to win the nomination- even the presidency. The problem is that in the parlance of governance, it's too narrow. The President lacks the imagination (or the "vision thing"- perhaps a genetic failing) to surpass the limitations of his base.

Frankly, we've had precious few presidents who have. FDR comes to mind... and so does Ronald Reagan, who never got sufficient credit for seeing outside the box by befriending Gorbachev.


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