NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Sometimes you pinpoint the exact moment that a change in strategy took place. We are seeing that right now in politics.
Will President Obama tout his successful push for healthcare reform? After all, it was his top legislative priority, and with a big push he got it approved. No. The White House has determined that health care is a losing issue. Public opinion is not fluid on it. It’s perceived as expensive and inefficient.
So, yesterday, we saw the pivot. The White House will run on the economy. The message will be this: Republicans messed it up before we got there. We’re struggling mightily to fix it. The bankers are partially at fault, the same ones who got government bail outs and still gave themselves fat bonuses. Wall Street is culpable, trading in risky derivatives and mortgage default swaps that no one really understands.
The President previewed the new strategy at a fundraising speech in California. He said, “In this entire year and a half of cleaning up the mess, it's been tough because the folks very responsible for a large portion of this mess decided to stand on the sidelines. It was as if somebody had driven their car into the ditch and then just watched you as you had to yank it out, and asked you: 'Why didn't you do it faster -- and why do I have that scratch on the fender?' And you want to say: 'Why don't you put your shoulder up against that car and help to push?' That's what we need, is some help."
Will it be enough to stem big democrat losses in Congress? It could be. It depends on whether Republicans have the right response. The GOP could say something like this:
“Mr. President, for the first 14 months of your term, you and your party controlled everything in Washington. You had a wide majority in the House, and you had 60 votes in the Senate. Any proposal you wanted could have sailed through and Republicans could not stop it. If you thought Wall Street financial reform was a top priority, you could have proposed it months ago. Jobs, the environment, foreign policy… whatever you wanted, you could have had. But now, when some of your policies are unpopular, you want to blame the opposition that was powerless to stop you.”
If Americans hear often enough that bankers and brokers are thieves, some will believe it. If the counter-argument is that some issues are chosen for their political value as wedges, and Wall Street financial reform is one of them.
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau