Obama comes out the victor in the messaging battle of the fiscal cliff negotiations. CNN contributor Ruben Navarrette Jr. said: “He is so good at the business of politics that he’s really outmaneuvered them.”
How did he do this? According to John Judis in the New Republic, “He campaigned publicly. He framed the issues. He put the Republicans on the defensive in a way that he failed to do during much of his first term.”
Even the far-right Brietbart.com agrees. In a post titled: “GOP drift losing ‘cliff’ message battle,” Mike Flynn argues: “The GOP is doing nothing to educate the public about the stakes involved. President Obama, however, convincingly acts as if he is, and the public believes him. The GOP is tending to the weeds, while Obama tends to the forest. In other words, the GOP presents positions, not principle. Obama avoids positions and presents lofty visions. It is no wonder the GOP is getting clobbered.”
Within these snippets about the “message,” is a lesson I intend to apply in the coming months. I invite you to join me.
There is a message about energy and the economy; a “vision” that needs to be cast: Energy can fuel the American recovery. Energy could have fueled a recovery early in Obama’s first term. Obama’s anti-energy policies, and wasted expenditures on green energy, have held down the American economy and created a culture of government dependence.
On November 29, I was at a meeting where the new mini-documentary TruthLand was being shown. As energy was the topic, someone brought up the recent International Energy Agency report that claims the US will “overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer by 2017.” It was a local group. They knew me. I was asked about the forecast. I scoffed: “Not under this president.” I continued: “I believe the resource is there. But Obama will never let us access it.”
One of the men at the meeting asked me if I’d seen the Internet video suggesting an Obama third term. No, I hadn’t. I’d heard advertisements for it featuring an ominous-sounding male voice. I’d paid it no attention. It sounded like some wacky conspiracy theory. He reported that he’d watched the whole 90 minutes of it (he’s retired, and, obviously, has more time than I do). He summarized it for me. In short, in his second term, Obama, freed from having to appease the environmentalists, will unleash American oil-and-gas resources. The economy will rebound with a vengeance. People will be dancing in the streets, singing praises to Obama for fixing the economy and turning the crisis around. Because of his newfound, savior-like status, the American people will be loath to let him leave office; they’ll demand a third term.
I smiled and nodded, promising to check the video out. I couldn’t imagine that this idea could possibly happen with the ideologically driven Obama. After all, I’ve written repeatedly on his push for green energy and his appointees’ efforts to block fossil-fuel development.
Then I Googled “Obama third term.” Wow! There’s a lot out there on this. One I found the most interesting is an investment site: StockGumshoe—where Travis Johnson takes apart the pitch for Porter Stansberry’s Investment Advisory. Written on November 6, Johnson says the gist of the video is: “The US economy is going to boom so aggressively over the next few years that whoever will be president is going to get re-elected, even if it means amending the constitution to ensure we get to keep Obama in office.” I read Johnson’s comments and have to agree with the idea that abundant American energy has the potential to be a game changer. I’ve written on that, too. But I still question that Obama will release the imprisoned resources.
Then, someone forwarded me a post from the Daily Beast titled: “Obama’s energy dilemma: back energy-fueled growth or please green lobby?” in which Joel Kotkin takes a slightly different approach to the Obama-third-term theme. He posits: “The energy revolution presents Obama with the clearest path to drive this critical boost to greater economic growth” and suggests that, if Obama can embrace “an energy-led growth strategy,” he could “assure Democratic political dominance for a decade or more.” He concludes by saying: “President Obama can improve middle-class prospects. In the coming months, he will need to choose between pleasing the green purists around him and generating a long boom that would elevate him to Mount Rushmore levels and assure his party’s political dominion for a generation.”
Daily Beast readers lambasted Kotkin—calling his column “fossil fuel industry propaganda.” Hardly. But there is validity to the fact that an “energy-led growth strategy” would “improve middle class prospects.” And, that if Obama chose to “back energy-fueled growth” it could create a “long boom”—though the Mount-Rushmore level is a bit presumptuous.
I’d discounted both of these premises—though they’ve been percolating in my brain. But then, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson resigned.
Investor’s Business Daily said the following about Jackson’s resignation: “Though we wish we were celebrating Jackson's departure as a step toward a more rational, reasonable EPA, we expect the next administrator will continue the administration's war not just on coal, but on all fossil fuels.” Yes, Jackson has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks preventing maximization of America’s natural resources. She has repeatedly, though unsuccessfully, attempted to connect hydraulic fracturing with ground water contamination—which would give her the impetus she needed to ban the technology that has unleashed America’s abundant natural gas and increased oil production to decade-high levels. She has promulgated onerous regulations that have killed jobs, raised the cost of energy, and sent business overseas.
Watch for her replacement. My friends at Energy for America conclude a post about Jackson’s replacement with these words addressing fracking: “The next EPA Administrator should support American jobs and operate under the notion that you should not fix what isn’t broken.” I, too, would like to see a new EPA Administrator who understood the importance of American energy and jobs. I would like to see one who makes decisions based on sound science not ideology or politics. However, if the new EPA Administrator is more like what Energy for America is suggesting than what Investor’s Business Daily predicts, it could be that the White House is looking toward Mount Rushmore.
Nothing would please me more than to see the American economy in a “long boom.” I believe that “energy-led growth” can create a strong America. And, that a prosperous America is better equipped to deal with any mitigation that may be needed as a result of resource extraction and use. But this pending growth, should have happened sooner, rather than later—early in Obama’s first term, not late in his second (as the Stansberry video suggests).
Should Obama replace Jackson with someone who brings new direction to the agency resulting in energy-led growth—and therefore proving what Newt Gingrich talked about, what Mitt Romney proposed, what I’ve written on, and what many others have espoused, the response shouldn’t be to praise the President and view him as the savior. With the right messaging, the response should be anger, played out through impeachment.
For the last four years, prosperity has been within reach. Instead, the President’s policies—carried out by the likes of Lisa Jackson, Steven Chu, and Ken Salazar—have kept it at bay. As a result, jobs have been lost, homes repossessed, businesses closed, and cities bankrupt. That is the message. And if the American public understood the message, we wouldn’t have the economic uncertainty the fiscal cliff created; we wouldn’t be facing a fierce battle over the debt ceiling. Instead, we’d have the aggressive economic boom the Stansberry video purports.
Unless this messaging frames the energy issue, unless we put him on the defensive, unless we present this vision, the truth will be clobbered, we’ll be outmaneuvered once again—and Obama will be heading for Mount Rushmore.