A reader writes:
You act surprised, but isn't this exactly what the right did to Bill Clinton? Vince Foster, Clinton being a drug runner, Clinton having cause X number of deaths or actually murdering or ordering the murder of dozens of people? And he was impeached for a lie about sex or something. I don't think it is worse with Obama. Maybe louder. Now it's Fox, not just Drudge and Rush, turning lies into stories the MSM is forced to report.
What the president needs most is a professional marketing team. He needs Don Draper.
Back in August 2009, when they let the town hall “screamers” take over the healthcare debate, it was clear they had no media strategy for passing this legislation. In business, it’s not enough to have a good product; you also need a marketing plan. The Obama communications team has no marketing plan. None. The people staffing this office came over from the campaign and have proved themselves to be out of their league when it comes to getting ahead of the rightwing propaganda machine. Obama needs smart, aggressive, creative people to make this happen. There are plenty of them for hire on Madison Avenue and elsewhere.
Simultaneous with the healthcare scream-fest was all the complaining about the government bailout of the banks and the auto companies. Almost no one is alive today to remember how bad life got under the Hoover administration from 1929 to 1932. (And God knows no one is learning it in history class.) By 1932, unemployment was 25 percent. Then FDR came into office and the New Deal policies brought unemployment down to 15 percent by 1939. That was still terrible, but it was much better than 25 percent.
It was incumbent on Obama to give us a national history lesson about the Great Depression so we would understand why he was avoiding Hooverism. Most people have no idea how much the 2008 global meltdown resembled 1929. Instead, the loudest voices we heard on this subject came from the rightwing noise machine.
I've been wondering over the past few days why politicians don't use charts and graphs more. It strikes me that not only has last year been the Year of the Big Lie, it's been the year of the Qualitative Argument.
What I think you and other blogs do so well is that in addition to your political arguments based on your own philosophy, you back up data with concrete charts that show spending, unemployment, etc. Why don't politicians do this? Why doesn't Obama on "60 Minutes" take out a chart on unemployment and show what the effect has been since the stimulus bill? Why not use more Qualitative Argument to tell people what the facts really are. This strikes me as one big way to break the he said/she said narrative of the 24-hour newscycle.
One caveat: Obviously, you can manipulate data to show what you want it to show. So there is a way to counter-attack this line of arguing. However, facts are facts, and the more sources that can corroborate and show the same effects, the greater the confirmation of truth. Honestly, I'd like a whole hour of prime-time CNN devoted to graphs and charts showing the unbiased truth. Nate Silver would love it.
I agree with what you say about the Big Lie, but you never seem to hold Americans themselves accountable for believing these lies. While people do behave in a sheeplike manner (gay left, language police, group-think evident in any comments section), I don't think they can be absolved or excused for refusing to inform themselves. While the consequences can be dire, they are still insistent on believing the lies they're told and in no way attempting to refute them with contradictory information. We tend to believe what we want to believe, and a great many people who've been led to believe Obama is a radical spender and socialist-in-hiding wanted to believe it in the first place.
Fault Fox, yes. Fault cynical conservative think tankers, yes. But also fault the people who only listen to Fox News. They are not innocent bystanders in their own deception.
Agreed on this last point wholeheartedly. It's a republic, if we can keep it. If we prefer lies to the truth, we won't keep it for ever.