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Politics is the art of creating perception, because, like it or not, perception IS reality. All you have to do to understand that is look at the number of people who make up their mind who they are going to vote for in the week before the election. Hint, they didn’t wait that long to make up their mind because they were doing research. Even with those who decide well before polling day, for the most part they look at the headlines, and listen to the sound bytes, and make a decision based on which headlines and bytes line up their assumptions about politics.
It’s the economy stupid! The famous sign that James Carville scrawled and hung up in the Clinton campaign headquarters in 1992. It’s a lesson that’s been tattooed on just about every campaign since, and it will be the centerpiece of the 2012 race. Sure, there will be blather about other issues: stuff like fairness, the deficit, over regulation, the reach of government, ObamaCare, mandatory contraception coverage, etc. With the exception of the last one, none of the rest will actually swing many votes because not enough people actually have a clue about the impact of any of them. You can thank a teacher for that. On the last one, it’s a tradition based question that may MAY swing a fair percentage of Catholic voters against Obama, and they split 52-45 for him in 08. It’s also an issue that requires no research. It’s about how you feel, and with this group arguments one way or the other are pretty much a waste of time.
So, does the President have a path to a second term? After all, ten days into his Presidency he said if the economy wasn’t turned around by this time he didn’t deserve a second term. If you look at the polling, he’s very unpopular and gets low grades on his handling of the economy. Unemployment has been at near record highs and consumer confidence at near record lows. It’s a tough world out there.
Even with his problems, the President absolutely has a clear path to a second term, and, in my opinion, the road is wide and straight. It’s also an uphill ride, but the grade is not all that steep. The job ahead of the President and his campaign team (and I include the major print and broadcast media on that team) will be to create the perception that things are improving for individual voters. They won’t address the state of the Nation; that’s too complex. How do they do it?
Well, they’re going to reduce the question to snippets with smiley faces. They’re also going to ignore facts that contradict their snippet that will require a basic understanding of either finance or economics, and they’ve already begun doing it, and from appearances, it’s working. They’re also going to need a hefty war chest to finance their obfuscation, and they’ll have that in spades. Mr. Obama is an outstanding fund raiser and you can be sure he’ll personally raise at least a billion dollars for this campaign. Add to that another $500MM in cash from union sources plus a virtually unlimited amount of union manpower and you’ve got a very formidable force that will appear to come out of nowhere. Keep in mind that they will spend virtually nothing until after the conventions, while Republicans are throwing millions of dollars into primary campaigns, where Obama’s negatives are never mentioned. Bottom line, he’s got a virtually unlimited amount of money.
Here is what I think the snippets will be:
- The recession was much deeper than the incoming Administration was led to believe, and it’s Bush’s fault.
- Unemployment is coming down and people are going back to work; jobs are being created.
- The Administration’s policies have saved the auto industry and hundreds of thousands of good, middle class manufacturing jobs.
There, now don’t you feel better? I sure do. Not.
As I said, the drumbeat has already begun. And so far, PT Barnum’s adage, “You can fool all of the people some of the time,” is right on track.
“It’s Bush’s fault!” Rasmussen notes that more people blame Bush for the bad economy than blame Obama. As with all of the snippets, there is a seed of truth from which the Administration will attempt to grow a mighty oak. GWB was certainly no fiscal or constitutional conservative and, again in my opinion, his Administration laid the groundwork for Obama’s expansion of the federal government, and didn’t hinder the economy going into recession in 2008. The issue here, unfortunately, is that President Obama’s policies have not fostered a solid recovery, and to understand that requires more than a passing understanding of economics. Therefore, “Bush did it!” is a pretty easy sell.
Not only is it an easy sell, Obama’s job approval is at the highest level in recent history and is going up.
Unemployment is coming down. And it is. And I’ll have a detailed discussion of this up tomorrow, but the bottom line is that the official unemployment statistics are improving. The official number this month is 8.3%, and that’s the lowest number in three years. It is, however, illusory and you will have to wait until tomorrow for a detailed takedown on this snippet, but the bottom line is that there are five million fewer people in the workforce than there were three years ago. Put those workers back into the workforce and the unemployment rate is 11.5%
With respect to job creation, February saw a net increase of about 250,000 jobs. While it’s true that is the largest job creation number in three plus years, it barely covers 150,000 new entries into the workforce . The problem, again, is that to dismiss this snippet you have to understand how employment is calculated and understand some economics.
Savior of the auto industry. See the article I wrote last week on this subject. This snippet is a patent lie, but he’s got the UAW cheerleading the idea with millions of dollars, and don’t expect the major media to challenge him on this. Or anything else.
Bottom line: You can expect a deluge of propaganda from the President designed to do nothing more than influence the perception of the vast majority of people, who are either too lazy or too ignorant to understand the issues, or they simply don’t care. I want to urge you to study the issues and Liberty News is a great place to start, so when you encounter ignorance you’ll be appropriately armed.