Ed Driscoll

The will.i.am to Power

Ben Goddard of the Hill writes that when it comes to Obama, “listen to the music, not the words,” Goddard believes they’re saying, “Maybe no encore in 2012:”

Years ago as a young political media consultant I would spend hours in the dark space behind the one-way glass of focus-group facilities furiously writing down what everyone said. At the end of the night I’d have pages of contradictory and often confusing quotes from the “real people” on the other side of the glass. One night a pollster with far more experience than I had told me to “listen to the music, not the words.” I took that advice and soon discovered that I had far fewer scribbles on legal pads, no writer’s cramps and a much better understanding of what voters were actually thinking at the end of the night.Since the closing days of the midterm elections I’ve been heeding that good advice while watching a president and a White House still trying to get their bearings after the “shellacking” taken by the president and his party. Barack Obama is saying all the right words — talking about increased cooperation with Republicans and a consensus approach to developing policy, and even skirting the edges of apologizing for his contribution to the divisive partisan atmosphere that has pervaded Washington the past two years.

Those are the words. The music — it seems a little different. Watching the body language of the president and hearing the weariness in his voice, one can’t help but think he is tired, frustrated and becoming a bit disengaged.

As Orrin Judd quips, “Becoming? When did he ever show any interest in governing?”

But otherwise, Goddard is right — pay no attention to the words emanating from this White House, just follow the music.

Related: In other news of political dissonance, “Lame ducks should stop quacking and go home.”