His July 22 press conference was billed as perhaps Obama's last chance to save health care reform. It tanked (partly because Obama's attack on the Cambridge police dominated the press). Afterward, public support for ObamaCare dropped significantly. A Pew poll taken that week found that more people opposed the proposals being considered by Congress than supported them, and that Obama's overall approval had dropped 7 points from the previous month. Other polls showed similar declines.
Now, more than a month later, things look even worse. The obvious solution? Even more cowbell.
But what is lacking is not cowbell, it's substance the American people can support. Obama will reportedly be "more specific," but he won't commit himself to any particular piece of legislation. This suggests that the White House still thinks it has a communication problem, and if only it dispels the cloud of "lies" belched up by the opposition, there will be nothing but blue skies ahead.
Funny how the people who run the most sophisticated communication operation in the history of the presidency keep concluding that their difficulties stem from their inability to get their message out and never from what their message actually is.
And so, rather than change the substance of the message, they're grabbing an even bigger megaphone: an address to a joint session of Congress. Three out of the last four presidents gave just one address to a joint session of Congress, and all but one of them reserved such occasions for major international events, like a war or, in Ronald Reagan's case, a breakthrough with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Only Bill Clinton used such a venue for a domestic priority: health care reform.
That didn't work out so well either.
Just seven months into Obama's presidency, the White House is turning up the speakers on the cowbell as loud as they will go. And, heck, if you love cowbell, it's going to be a real treat. But in all the ways that matter, it may just end up being more noise.
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