On issues such as health care and the stimulus the Democrats were right on the issues but the Republicans are winning the spin war. Paul Krugman compared the Democrats to Lucy and the Football, fearing they are not anticipating the Republican response to financial reform:
I have a theory about the problem here. My understanding is that Obama officials have looked at the polls, which show that the public overwhelmingly favors cracking down on Wall Street; so they assumed that the GOP wouldn’t dare stand in the way. But they seem not to have learned, even now, that the right has an awesome ability to create its own reality: that Mitch McConnell et al would stand in the way of reform while claiming to be taking a stand against Wall Street.
Nor can you count on the truth to sink in with the public. The conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, among other things, make it surprisingly easy to get away with even the most obvious hypocrisy.
And let’s be clear: there’s a sort of tribal thing going on (and I don’t necessarily mean race, although that’s part of it). The hard right has managed to convince a large number of Americans that it consists of people like them, whereas progressives are alien and untrustworthy; in the face of that, rational arguments don’t make much of a dent.
To break through that, you need hard-hitting campaigns and simple slogans. And I have a sinking feeling that once again, the Obama team is going straight for the capillaries. Let’s hope they prove me wrong.
I think the problem is not that the Obama administration fails to recognize that Republicans have an “awesome ability to create its own reality,” but that they have not been able to overcome this. I provided an example in the previous post which demonstrates that the Obama administration is aware of the problem. White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee showed such awareness in his characterization of the Republican response to financial reform:
Everybody knows a consultant just handed them that line and they’re just reading it. It doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. It could be a bill about breakfast cereal and they’re going to say this is a bailout bill.