Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Yesterday, Zandar flagged this bit of analysis from MSNBC's First Read:

...Turning our attention away from the midterms and to the Obama White House, we've come to this conclusion: This White House is simply not good at handling communication and politics. The legislative achievements are there. So is the individual outreach. But what's missing is a coherent message. Whether dealing with the media, the business community, Republicans, or Congress, this White House hasn't gotten its message across. (Just check out what Dem Gov. Chris Gregoire said of the White House's communication on immigration: "They described for me a list of things that they are doing to try and help on that border," Ms. Gregoire said... "And I said, 'The public doesn't know that.'") Why is this surprising? The last thing so many of us thought during the presidential campaign was that these guys would have difficulties controlling the message and managing their constituents. Simply put, Washington runs this White House right now; the White House doesn't run Washington.

I don't know why the same guys who did such a bang-up job in the campaign can't handle messaging now. I find myself thinking of Obama et al. as very bright but not very socially attuned, perhaps even Asperger-y, nerds who devised a brilliant strategy for an '08 victory in isolation; it actually worked, but they simply can't improvise a communication strategy when a plan they've made gets into trouble because, in an Asperger way, they simply aren't very good at picking up and processing social cues from voters, and thus they can't make the necessary adjustments.

Why have they have been so tone-deaf regarding the need for vigorous and relentless action on jobs, or, failing that, a fist-shaking rage at whoever (fat cats, the GOP) stands in the way of such action? Why couldn't they process the mounting discomfort with the health care plan? Why do they allow right-wing faux-outrages to fester -- about golf-playing, say, or bowing to foreign leaders? Would it be so unacceptable for the White House to find some way not to provide oxygen for the right-wing crazies on these trivial matters?

And on the other side we've got the GOP -- which, according to the new Washington Post/ABC poll, is disliked but on a roll. Even though congressional Republicans are trusted less than Obama or congressional Democrats....

... they're the likely big winners in November:

Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin of 56 percent to 41 percent.

Oblomova, in the comments to a post at Rumproast, says:

Honestly, I think it's time to start trying out the meme that "The GOP loves America the same way your creepy stalker ex-boyfriend loved you. If they can't have their country, no one can -- and if you try to leave, they'll throw acid in your face, kill your cat, and burn down your house."

I don't think that's particularly hyperbolic -- Republicans have made it clear in the past year and a half that if they can't govern the country, they're going to render it ungovernable. I think their behavior seems very literally sociopathic.

But it's just like non-political life, isn't it? Sociopaths are a bit sexy -- they're actually above average at picking up on social cues, which makes them excellent at seducing, mollifying, and manipulating people. The people they hurt often go right back to them for more, finding themselves in denial about the crazy moments (much the way America seems to be in denial about the extreme statements of Michele Bachmann and Steve King and their looney cohort in Congress, or about the likes of Sharron Angle and Rand Paul, both of whom may win elections in the fall).

Sociopaths are seductive. Nerds are, well, nerdy. Right now, that's America's political choice.

If you can't guess which one the country's going to pick in November, you obviously didn't go to high school.


(Apologies to anyone I may have offended with this post. In real life, I'm very bad at eye contact and frequently uncomfortable in a roomful of strangers. When I talk about awkward nerds, I'm talking about people like myself. Sorry if that doesn't come across.)


(P.S.: Memeorandum, would it kill you to let me be part of the discussion of this poll?) (UPDATE: Thanks.)

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