...in the hopes that this time, it'll be different. The 'Benjamin Button' reference made by Ronald Brownstein below is in reference to the GOP's policy agenda, which is pretty explicitly to reverse all of the catastrophic features of President Obama's policy agenda: the conceit is that we're going to have the same debates over again. And Brownstein reports that this is just fine with the White House, for some reason:
...early indications are that the White House also sees these Benjamin Button debates as a chance to take the offense for 2012—and to launch a renewed and reframed effort to contrast Obama’s vision of government’s role with that of the ascendant congressional Republicans. As David Axelrod, Obama’s chief White House political strategist, argued in a recent interview, 2010 unfolded largely as a referendum on Obama’s performance, but in 2012 “voters will be faced with a choice. And I view that as an opportunity.”
You know, there's a meme called 'framing' which is very popular among my opposite numbers on the Left. It's a viciously seductive concept that derives its power from telling liberals and progressives, essentially, that the ongoing rejection of their pet policy positions by the public is due primarily because they simply haven't found the right rhetorical angle with which to present their case. I love framing. I want to meet the person who managed to infect enough Democrats with this meme to reach the critical threshold of delusion, and send him/her a fruit basket. Framing has done more for the GOP than anything else that I can think of, and stories like the above is why.
You see, here is the great dilemma of the past two years of the Obama administration: it has been bad at popularizing its message, while being convinced that it is actually good at it. That delusion apparently finally got disproved to even the White House with the shellacking back in November, but that will be cold comfort to the Left if the President learns the wrong lesson from it. If he decides that the problem isn't in the message itself, but just its presentation... well.
Here, let's go with a tortured analogy. Let us say that the Obama administration had decided to run the country for the last two years under the assumption that red is actually green. This assumption makes sense to that proportion of the population that is red-green colorblind; the rest of the population finds it confusing, given that the President never actually campaigned on this issue. As a result of this policy, the country has seen a 10,000% increase in work and car accidents: widespread disruptions in the agricultural industry; and Christmas going beige... so the Republican party ran in 2010 under the simple message of Actually, red is red and green is green, with the result that the House flipped, the Senate almost flipped, and state governments went Republican across the country. The great danger for the Democrats in this scenario is that the President might end up deciding that he had not adequately made it clear to the American people that he thinks that red is actually green.
Which - to leave the tortured analogy behind - is what the President is threatening to do now. Because in 2010 the voters were actually offered a choice then, too: and they made it. The Democrats just don't like the choice that was made. And if they try the same thing again in two years, with the same people making the same arguments, they won't like the choice that will be made in 2012, either.
Moe Lane (crosspost)