Friday, March 16, 2012

A Note to Obama: Don't Let Loose Ends Become Frayed Cuffs

Low Hanging Fruit in the anti-Obama Media War

Lots of the "mouth junk" issuing from the born liars in the GOP "clown car" never gets any particular traction with the fear weary electorate.  However, even the perennially optimistic MeanMesa has days when tuning into the media "news" feels like standing in front of an "out-of-control" drunk with an angry scowl and a baseball bat.

Still, fortified by a overly brave, perhaps foolishly steely heart, MeanMesa, jabs the remote's "on" button, tuning in for the "news" about the latest hateful, hideous thing the Republicans are saying and the latest hateful, horrendous thing they are trying to do. The only mystery left in the GOP's grisly "Brothers Grimm Collection" is how many chapters still remain unread in their story book of nightmares. (original Grimm's Tales - National Geographic)

However, as was mentioned before, some of the crafty GOPCon "attack strategy" schemes do seem to have some traction.  While there's little need to go chasing after any specific pack of the ineffective part of the engineered lies, distractions or innuendo thrusts, the ones which seem to be working, that is, the ones which seem to be able to gain some political traction among the voting public, should be actively countered right away.

If this "countering" is neglected or delayed, these little schemes gain the advantage of "being repeatedly presented as facts" long enough to mysteriously become more material than they deserve to be.  Once this has occurred, these arguments are granted passive residence in an ethereal world where they, gradually, become ideas no longer subject to examination.

They become unexamined, mistaken certainties.

Republicans, now permanently soiled with the enduring curse of their own record of governing, prefer this approach.  They are understandably abhorrent when confronted with the prospect of political discourse based on a comparison of their records with those of the current President, hence, furtive, artificial mental structures become the currency of their ambitions for office.  [For example, a majority of Republican primary voters think that Barack Obama is a Muslim.]

This MeanMesa post is about two current specific "propaganda gambits" which seem to be gaining traction.  Notably, in this case, two others which seem to be effective right now have been set aside.  Those "set asides" would be political attacks based on the price of gasoline and the political festivities currently at play in favor of beating the war drums with respect to Iran.

Happily, for some reason, both the "gasoline question" and the "Iran question"  seem both temporary and too well lubricated by common sense to qualify as having traction.  The propaganda represented by the two themes of this post are not, apparently so well lubricated.  Let's take a look.

Obama the Spendthrift (image source)

1. Obama's Spending Just As Much As Before
Deficit Spending for Economic Recovery

Because they found themselves unable or unwilling to propose or pass any legislation which would have assisted in lowering the unemployment rate,  Republicans in both chambers launched into a well funded campaign to reframe the unemployment problem into a debt problem.  The scheme was simple enough.  A new paradigm had to be installed in the electorate where somebody else caused the debt, and the debt caused the unemployment.

Because Americans think of national debt in the same sense that they consider household or personal debt, the national debt was instantly terrifying.  When the insecurity of the recession job market could be transferred to debt and then to spending, the scene was set for what we saw beginning in 2010 and since then.

Obama has actually done extraordinarily well with both spending and the debt.  However, the "low hanging fruit" of uniformed voters were convinced that he should have cut spending to the quick -- no matter the consequences -- to pay back the debt and, of course, usher in dramatic job creation.  The entire picture, although carefully crafted, is not more than 1/8 of inch deep at its best places.

This is a problem for the President.

The facts aren't a problem, but the perception of those facts is.  A majority of voters from both parties see the present dilemma in exactly this light.  It gets worse.  If it were possible to extract an intuitive understanding -- one, of course, already heavily manipulated by the GOPCon campaign to paint the picture this way -- of what voters could have expected, that "picture" would include the serious, yet unrealized, expectation of spending cuts.

When there were none of the expected spending cuts, some of the rest of the propaganda campaign began to have traction.  The new narrative?  Obama just "plowed ahead" with typical Democratic big spending habits, and when the box car of reality hit, he wanted to raise taxes.  The Republicans packaged this advantage in all the predictable costumes, many of which didn't really penetrate well, but the main "big picture" pitch did penetrate.

This is the first of the two torpedoes facing the re-election campaign today.  The uncontrollable, reactionary tea bags in the House have already trotted out the "both sides are the same" scenario as they made up their list of Republican incumbent targets.  Facts mean nothing.

Writing a New Narrative

The "car in the ditch" narrative was worth its weight in gold.  Everyone -- including the low information voters -- understood it.  But, is there another chapter in that book which can address the deficit spending?  Perhaps.  MeanMesa would like to take a jab at one.

 The Old, Corner Grocery

Hoping to land a position as the new manager of the grocery, the job candidate went to an interview with Grandma Sullivan, the owner.  The previous manager had been her nephew, but conditions at the grocery had taken a serious turn for the worse under his management.

After a few stories about the "old days," she gave the new man the keys.  They agreed that he should start the next morning.  She told him that all the records were in a box under the cash register.

However, on his first day at work, the new manager was shocked by what he found.

Looking through the records, he realized that the grocery had no money in the bank, had terrible credit and was, in fact, deeply in arrears with all of its suppliers.  Glancing around the store, he also saw that there was basically nothing for sale.  The shelves were empty except for some ten year old cans of sardines from Burma, a few out of date tins of oatmeal and a few dusty packages of Twinkies.

To his further horror, he discovered that there was not even any cash in the register.  There were a few threatening letters from the bank about past due loan payments.  There was no heat or electricity in the store, and there were certainly no customers.

Meanwhile, however, the previous manager seemed to be doing suspiciously well for someone who had just lost his job. He was supervising the installation of his new swimming pool.

Of course the new manager had to borrow even more money to start the business again.

This explains Obama's budget deficits.  It is a story which needs to be told to millions of voters who still have no idea what actually happened.  The situation can be greatly improved if Obama's current overly mild narrative moves beyond "the worst financial crisis in generations" to another, new story which includes names, actions and  dates.

Many of the culprits are still seated in the Congress.  The Republicans must be made to pay the full price for their record.  This hasn't happened yet.  If it doesn't happen pretty soon and pretty decisively, MeanMesa thinks that the election could be in trouble.

2. Obama Is Owned by Wall Street
He's Supposed to Lose the Election by Excluding Big Donors

Obama the Wall Street Parasite (image source)

Amazingly, this second well engineered pitch bothers Republicans almost as much as it bothers Democrats.  After a good thrubbing during the unbridled years of the autocracy, most non-Wall Street Americans are still walking around as bow legged as the Prom Queen after a gang rape.  No one likes Wall Street or banksters.

Of course, this popular distaste has no material effect on the actual connection between the top enders and the Republicans, but it has made the importance of "disguising that connection," well, even more important.  In some cases, the GOP's have had to expose their quiet, yet undying fealty to the big guys, for example, in their frenzied efforts to reframe and destroy things like the new Wall Street regulations, the newly formed FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Dodd-Frank Bill.  

Remarkably, even in a media swamp of such blatant manipulation, the majority of voters has still managed to point the finger of blame where it belongs.  So, let's talk briefly about a GOP Super PAC commercial running in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

First, for MeanMesa visitors unfamiliar with the local environs of MeanMesa's Galactic Headquarters, a word about Albuquerque and New Mexico.  None of this is presented as a tourist guide, but rather it is included here because not only is the message an unusual prelude to a "yet to be nominated" candidate's campaign, it is also simply such an unlikely place to be spending money this way.

New Mexico is not Mexico.  It borders on Mexico to the South, but it also borders on Arizona to the West, Colorado to North and Texas to the East.  New Mexico voted for Obama in 2008, and even the heavily biased Rasmusson Poll shows Obama strongly favored in 2012.  

We have a shady Republican woman for Governor, although she is nothing compared to the out-of-control "red meat" harpy to our West in Arizona or the strange, drawling, little ex-candidate to our West in Texas, Rick Perry.  We have elected two Democratic Senators and a respectable number of Democratic House members.

So, why is a well heeled Super PAC paying for anti-Obama commercials in New Mexico?  Also, interesting, what is the theme of those negative advertisement buys?

The answers to these two questions reveal the exact reason why they are posted here.  Both answers show us the inner, tactical workings of the GOP Super PACs and give us a glimpse of their strategies for winning the White House in 2012.

First, the commercial.

The commercial begins with a video clip of President Obama saying that he is not in office to "benefit a bunch of fat cat bankers."

Following the clip, the commercial presents communicative graphics "revealing" that the Obama campaign has received millions of dollars worth of contributions from Goldmann-Sachs.  It continues with a quick recap of the Wall Street "heavy hitters" who have been appointed by the President to a good number of slots in the administration.  The "factual" information presented is relatively accurate compared to similar Super PAC advertisement currently deployed, for example, in contested Republican primary states.

This would be a truly academic exercise if clearly detectable "target biases" were not included in this post.  So, what, exactly, does this free spending Super PAC want New Mexico voters to "start thinking" or, at least, "start suspecting" as a product of this media purchase?

The answers are clustered in a list of descending priorities.

Of course, the first and most obvious among the implied messages is that Obama is making decisions for the benefit of the 1%er's.  

The second most sought after message is one of stoic hopelessness, that is, the idea that "nothing changes."  Regardless of party, promises or platform, an American voter can do nothing about getting the brokers' and banksters' lobby out of their tax money.  Obama may have said that he wanted change, but, in fact, he didn't really want change at all.  He just wanted to trick voters long enough to get to the trough.

The third is perhaps the most subtle, but also the most potentially useful given the nature of what has been revealed in the Republican Primary candidates.  That message is that "both parties are the same."

Hmmm.  "Republicans are just like Democrats?" 

Think carefully.  Why would a GOPCon Super PAC spend money to promote an idea like this?  Certainly not because they want to "fire up their base" or convince Democrats or Independents to vote against the President.

This is a message targeted at totally disheartened nihilists.  These are the folks who have forsaken all hope that any possible solution might still lie somewhere on a 2012 ballot.  The Super PAC money is an expression of the belief that this demographic block of disenchanted voters might represent the final "edge" needed to elect  an otherwise unelectable GOP nominee.

In New Mexico, the logical destination for voters with such a dark, depressing outlook would be GOP Senate hopeful, Heather Wilson.  Karl Rove has already been here to attend a fund raiser for her.

Both nationally and in New Mexico, the wing nuts have been in a well financed "take no prisoners" mode since 2008.  When it became clear that they couldn't really sell the "zero sum record" of the Republican Party to disgruntled voters, we saw an unmistakable "tea bag desperation" message emerging with a constantly increasing, although somewhat mystifying, crescendo of broadcast energy.

In fact, the "both sides are the same" theme has been getting a great deal of attention from the GOPCon money men.  Hardly a day flies by when a talk show caller -- from either end of the political spectrum -- doesn't dutifully mouth this same hopelessness and futile acceptance of the "We're all so-o-o screwed." message.

New Mexico's Republican Primary election isn't even scheduled until June 5.  Clearly, the Super PAC media buy is designed to "test the waters," seeking out some sign of possible traction for these three themes.  The point of this MeanMesa post is that there is a little traction.

Further, that traction is found mainly only among the saturated, cynical depressives, not among moderately ambitious Republicans, not among moderately hopeful Democrats and not even the still breathing, still fickle Independents.  When GOP PAC cash starts to target the voting group identified primarily by hopelessness and despondency, it implies that campaign strategists having reached the conclusion that this bunch might be at least a fleeting chance to prevail in the general election.

None of these represents an intractable challenge for the Obama campaign or for the Democrats running in New Mexico.  These will only become intractable if they are allowed free range to grow unchecked.  

So much for MeanMesa advice.

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