Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Post-Midterms Playbook

As anyone who's followed the gridlock in DC for the past few years knows, the Republican platform has hinged on lockstep opposition to the President in hopes of painting him as ineffectual, helped along by the President's own inability to create a narrative of his legislative accomplishments.  These factors created the perfect storm that saw the GOP taking the House last Tuesday, and in analyzing the changed political playing field in the wake of the midterms, Frank Rich explains how Obama (at least partially) has himself to blame:
You can’t win an election without a coherent message. Obama, despite his administration’s genuine achievements, didn’t have one. The good news — for him, if not necessarily a straitened country — is that the G.O.P. doesn’t have one either. This explains the seemingly irrational calculus of Tuesday’s exit polls. Voters gave Democrats and Republicans virtually identical favorability ratings while voting for the G.O.P. They gave Obama a slightly higher approval rating than either political party even as they punished him. This is a snapshot of a whiplashed country that (understandably) doesn’t know whose butt to kick first.
Rich goes on to make the case that the Republicans' plan for governing is that they have no plan:
Even in victory, most Republicans can’t explain exactly what they want to do besides cut taxes and repeal health care (a quixotic goal, given the president’s veto pen and the law’s more popular provisions). A riotous dissection of this empty agenda could be found on election night on MSNBC, where a Republican stalwart, Representative Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, called for “across the board” spending cuts. Under relentless questioning from Chris Matthews, she exempted defense and entitlements from the ax, thereby eliminating some 85 percent of the federal budget from her fiscal diligence.
One might think that by exploiting these inherent contradictions, Team Obama can find the key to their messaging strategy going forward, but based on some of the Democrats' truly baffling political moves of late (kicking that middle class tax cut down the curb to after the election being just one idiotic example), I wonder if they're even up to the task.  More from Rich here.

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