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Can Dems save themselves by controlling media narrative this fall?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 pm - September 5, 2010.
Filed under: 2010 Elections,Media Bias,New Media

A few days ago, Jim Geraghty posted a piece on his last exchange with Obi-Wan, his “political mentor who appeared in the closing months of the 2004 election, an individual who had been involved in the highest levels of GOP politics for longer than [he has] been alive.”  This is one of those pieces which got stuck in my proverbial craw.

So, I recommend you just read the whole thing.

Let me just highlight some things that struck me, notably Obi-Wan’s advice to pay attention to ABC to get the White House line, given George Stephanopoulos’ close association with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel:  

 So keep an eye on ABC, especially Stephanopoulos and also First Read and Politico — they’re usually the first-wave transmitters of the White House line. Believe me, they’ve already got a pollster or two who’s ready to bend some numbers and journalists ready to write about the “sudden Democratic surge.”

Not just that, Democrats are going to try to define a narrative.  He advises Republicans to be prepared:

First, predict it. Just tell the people that the White House and Democrats will try and control the media dynamic and narrative. This is what they do. They don’t really know how to govern for the public good; if they could do that, they would be in better shape. What they do know to do is use media events to hold onto power, to go on television and blab.

Second, Republicans ought to be using the words “October Surprise” endlessly. Hold a contest to see who comes up with the most creative suggestion for what the Dems might do.

Emphasis added.

So, my question is this, with the rise of the Tea Parties and the new media and the growing popular disgust with big government, will Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media be able to control the narrative this fall and thus save their party’s control of Congress?

Would Democrats’ chances this fall look better if Obama had focused on economy instead of health care?

Political pundits have written a good deal about how President Obama misread his mandate.  At GayPatriot, we have focused on how he assumed the American people had elected him to use his judgment in discerning and then addressing what problems faced us, but in the process neglected some of the promises he made in the campaign (especially that “net spending cut“) and the main factor contributing to his September rise in the polls and eventual electoral success.

Recall, that the polls shifted in Obama’s favor during the financial crisis.  With John McCain’s erratic behavior at the time, Obama seemed more temperamentally suited to confronting our economic difficulties than did his Republican rival.  Americans expected him to focus on the economy.

But, not wanting(to borrow an expression) letting a crisis go to waste, Obama thought he could use the crisis to focus on the priorities nearer and dearer to his heart than promoting economic growth by spurring on the normally dynamic private sector.  He just had to pass a massive health care overhaul.  

Perhaps, had he kept his focus on the economy, people might have granted him more slack if the unemployment did not decline as rapidly as his team had forecast.  At least, his fellow citizens would know he was concerned about their employment situation and financial well-being.

Charlie Cook believes his failure to focus on the economy accounts, in large measure, for the Democrats’ woes this fall:

Unemployment seems stuck at 9.5 percent, reinforcing the view that last year would have been better spent focusing on the economy than on health care reform.

He’s not the only one to say this.  As Jay Cost noted last week, the focus on the unpopular health care overhaul really does seem to the primary factor endangering the Democratic majority in Congress.  Guess some people just don’t learn from history.

Why They Demonize Conservatives

In a post on Palin Derangement Syndrome, iconoclastic blogger R.S. McCain and all around cool and snarky guy gets at the essence of what all too many on the left demonize conservatives:

Stigmatizing and marginalizing conservatives is much easier than debating them. Cogent arguments about policy become unnecessary to advancing the Left’s political agenda if they can dismiss its opponents as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.

It’s a good post on the leftist tactics which I highly recommend, even while not agreeing with its every word.

He also offers this choice passage on certain critics of conservatives:

What is at the root of this game is the accuser’s moral authority to act as Grand Inquisitor. The accuser arrogates to himself the unquestionable righteousness to judge the accused, who is then expected to attempt to prove his innocence.

Read the whole thing.