Sunday, August 08, 2010


Frank Rich is right, obviously, when he says that doing something real about unemployment is the thing that could really save Democrats in November, and that invoking Bush probably isn't going to do it:

... The 2010 campaign against the Bush administration is in full cry, with President Obama leading the charge. The Republicans are "betting on amnesia," he confidently told the claque at a recent fund-raiser. "They don't have a single idea that's different from George Bush's ideas." It's now the incessant party line.

Sounds plausible, but it's Obama who's on the wrong side of that bet, to his own political peril.

Betting on amnesia is almost always a winning, not a losing, wager in America....

It's not only a dubious strategy, it's a dubious strategy poorly executed. If you're going to make the case that the 2010 Republicans are just Bush clones, where are the ads featuring back-to-back clips of the present-day folks making pronouncements that are exactly echoed by Bush pronouncements from back in the day? This is the kind of advertising that was devastating to John McCain in '08 -- where is it now? Boehner sounding like Tweedledum to Bush's Tweedledee on taxes, or Social Security privatization, or regulation? McConnell paired with Bush? Sharron Angle or Rand Paul or Marco Rubio or Carly Fiorina paired with Bush? I mean, if you're going to make this your entire strategy, at least execute the damn strategy correctly. If you're grumbling about the public's memory loss, how about jogging their memories?

A Times editorial today quotes that "amnesia" line of Obama's a bit more fully:

Since then, he said: "It's not like they've engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single solitary new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don't have a single idea that's different from George Bush's ideas -- not one. Instead, they’re betting on amnesia."

So there's another problem: Obama is being hammered from the right for "blaming Bush," and he's actually not blaming Bush at all, at least not when he says things like this. Why isn't he making that point? Why isn't he saying something like "The other party says, 'Oh, that Obama, all he wants to do is blame Bush." But I'm not blaming Bush. I'm blaming the new crop of Republicans for being exactly like Bush."

He could then pivot into Rich's point, that when the current Republicans do differ from Bush, it's because they're even more extreme. But he could still tie that to Bush, and even have fun with the notion, for instance, by saying:

"Then they say to me, 'You're not being fair! You're so mean to us! We're not exactly like Bush!' And you know what? They're right. They're not exactly like Bush. They're even worse. Bush gave huge tax cuts to the rich that would expire after ten years. They don't want those tax cuts on the rich to expire -- and then they want to add even more tax cuts for the rich. Bush wanted to privatize Social Security. They want to do that and privatize Medicare. Bush gave the bulk of his tax cuts to the wealthy, but gave a few crumbs to the middle class. They want to give tax cuts to the wealthy and raise taxes on the middle class. So, yeah, I've been unfair. They're not like Bush -- not exactly. They're worse."

All that alludes to the Paul Ryan plan. Really, why not run against that? Oh yeah, I forgot -- Obama praised Ryan as a serious, thoughtful guy. Way to unilaterally disarm yourself, Mr. President.

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