Use the August Vacuum
by Deacon Blues
It was said several times around these parts that Karl Rove always used the August congressional recess to set a narrative for the remainder of the year or campaign. With Congress out of town and highly unpopular in the aftermath of the debt ceiling con game, Barack Obama's political team better take a page out of Rove's playbook and do the same.
House and Senate Republicans have gone home to their districts and states with the message already locked in that Obama is a "wet blanket" on job growth, and that they will use the supercommittee to block any defense cuts or tax and revenue increases. The White House can benefit from this early sunshining of the GOP's fall messaging by using the vacuum to roll their message out during the remainder of August. Among the possible lines of argument could be:
1. How can Obama be a wet blanket with record corporate profits?
2. If the GOP aims to undermine the supercommittee, let's trigger the cuts now.
3. If the GOP is against a balanced approach, real tax reform must wait for a Democratic congress in 2013.
4. In the meantime, waive goodbye to the Bush tax cuts.
But no matter what that message is, it will be critical for Obama to hit the road this month and set in his own narrative before the GOP frames the fall debate.
Given how badly this White House botched health care messaging and the debt ceiling/deficit reduction outcome, and how this president walked away from a focus on jobs, homes, and financial reform two years ago, only to be faced with all those anvils around his neck now, I'm not optimistic that the White House will figure it out now. And seeing the president's lame and unfocused messaging this week about the GOP's culpability for the FAA debacle and his Johnny-come-lately concern about jobs minutes after signing the "Satan sandwich", there's reason for Democrats to worry that Obama and his political team are in over their heads.
Simply put, if the White House doesn't get its act together now and seize the opportunity to set the narrative for the rest of the year, then House and Senate Democrats need to go their own way and push their own messaging apart from this White House.