I feel Robert Gibbs’ pain.
In a New York Times magazine article Sunday, President Obama said, “We probably spent too much time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right.”
Gibbs, the White House press secretary, noted ruefully in the article, “I haven’t been at a policy-problem meeting in 20 months.”
It was a refrain I heard every Monday morning when I was Governor Hunt’s press secretary in his first two terms. At every Cabinet meeting, every Cabinet secretary would brag about the tremendous progress being made on every single initiative in their departments. They – and the Governor – would conclude: “We’re not getting the story out.”
Then they would all look at me. The message was clear: If we could just communicate better, all would be well.
So it is with the Obama administration as it faces electoral disaster in two weeks.
After 1994, Bill Clinton decided he had got the policy wrong. So he moved right.
Of course, he was a much more flexible – or, you might say, less principled – politician than Obama.
Obama & Co. are kidding themselves if they think their only problem is a failure to communicate. Americans have a pretty good sense of what the policy is.
Here’s the question: Are Americans rejecting the policy because the economy is still in the dumps? Or do they oppose the policy – period?
My guess: the voters in the middle – the ones Obama has lost since 2008 – are more practical than ideological. If the economy comes back, he will too.
The question he needs to ask: Am I doing what it takes to get the economy back?