Ed Driscoll

Reality, What a Concept

Last week on the Today Show, Matt Lauer interviewed Robert Gibbs:

During an interview with former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer wondered: “How does the President get this excitement going again surrounding his re-election bid so that he can keep this office?” Throughout the segment, the headline on screen read: “Beyond Hope and Change; How Can President Regain Magic of 2008?”

The issue in 2008 wasn’t magic, but a cultish magical thinking amongst Beltway Elites and the MSM (see also Lauer and Gibbs). But even the most fervent magical thinking must eventually give way to reality. Or as Jim Geraghty writes today:

Yesterday Mike Allen of Politico spotlighted this exchange on ABC News’s This Week (all emphasis in original):

JAKE TAPPER, to The N.Y. Times’ JEFF ZELENY, on ABC’s “This Week”: ”What are the odds that President Obama is going to be able to introduce [a jobs plan] that will pass Congress?”

ZELENY: ”I think the odds are pretty slim, and they realize that. But it’s not about getting it passed, necessarily. It’s about framing the argument for the fall, and really into next year. They’re trying to draw this distinct line between him and Republicans. . . . For all the powers of the incumbency, for all the advantages he had as he was rolling through Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, one thing that hung over him is REALITY. That’s one thing that he didn’t have to deal with in 2007 or 2008. He could say all these things, make all these promises, which he did.

“But now his own supporters are coming to him with really tough questions — looking for relief, not just framing the argument.So I think he has to do more than simply fight with Congress. He has to try and go back again and get something with Speaker Boehner. But the reality just really confronted him, even in these friendly areas. I mean, imagine how it’s going to be when he goes to some harder places — some counties in Michigan, some counties in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania.”

Notice the all-caps emphasis of “REALITY.”

As Jim adds, “Reality is, in fact, Obama’s real opponent in this election.”

In the New York Post, Maureen Callahan notes, “Obama loses his cool — The President used to have the best ‘brand’ in America — then it all went wrong:”

Three years on, Barack Obama — overexposed, way too talkative and kind of cranky — now exists in what the Harvard Business Review calls “product limbo.” It’s a byproduct of the content not aligning with the sales pitch.

Exactly. As I wrote last year:

Like Don Draper, Obama at his best was a master salesman. But in real-life, the best ad men know that the product has to be equal to the ad campaign, or customer disappointment will be palpable. Or as Mad Men advisor Jerry Della Femina wrote 40 years ago in his classic book on advertising, From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War:

There is a great deal of advertising that’s better than the product. When that happens, all that the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster. There have been cases where the product had to come up to the advertising but when the product fails to do that, the advertiser will eventually run into a lot of trouble.

But then in 2008, Obama and his campaign staff, non-official and otherwise, were far more interested in making the initial sale than in providing a product that would keep customers satisfied over the long haul. And as was known forty years ago by Draper’s real-life counterparts, the advertiser eventually has run into a lot of trouble now that it’s been rather strongly established that the product in no way matches the ad campaign.

Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey of Hot Air, and Quin Hillyer of the American Spectator, and others are asking for a new salesman to be assigned to the account. Hillyer unloads quite a stemwinder of a lede asking, “If Only Obama Would Abdicate:”

This boringly ineffective would-be demagogue in the Oval Office keeps trotting out the same tired, petty, counterfactual lines in every one of his pompous, detached-from-reality speeches — and he did so again in his Saturday radio address. So shopworn is his refrain, and so counterproductive are his policies (both enacted and proposed), that the markets tank just about every time he opens his mouth, and the economy suffers with each minute he continues to occupy the White House. His resignation from office, in abject embarrassment at his failures, would be a great first step toward economic recovery, not to mention a balm to the souls of tens of millions of Americans sick of his condescension, his prevarications, and his incompetence.

Of course this man’s ego won’t let him resign, but just think: Vice President Joe Biden, for all his blarney, is a naturally ebullient “people person,” a dealmaker, and more a conventional liberal politician than an ideologue. If he ascended to the presidency, the markets would immediately take heart that some sort of rough progress could be fashioned despite Washington’s bitter divide. His tone alone would improve the confidence of both consumers and investors and help unleash the “animal spirits” that are necessary for an economy to grow.

Let Barack The One Obama take his hectoring lecturing back to some university classroom somewhere, while the rest of us get about the business of reviving the country we so love. Ahh, we can only wish….

Unlike 2002, when New Jersey Democrat Robert Torricelli withdrew from his reelection bid in a cloud of corruption too thick for even a New Jersey Democrat, it seems safe to say that in 2011, the Torch will not be passed to a new generation, thus making next year potentially quite a barn-burner of a campaign for whoever Obama’s opposition in the GOP will be.

Of course, there are still some pockets where magical thinking continues to reign supreme. The New York Times, channeling the ghost of Pauline Kael, where Republicans are outside the ken of New York elitists, finds the anger against Obama all rather unexpectedly “surprising.”