Monthly Archives: September 2011

President Obama Gets the Message

President Barack Obama gave a stunning speech yesterday in front of the “functionally obsolete” Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky. The President’s speech touting his American Jobs Act marks a sharp turnaround from the cool, professorial, unemotional Barack Obama that America has become used to, and which many voters dislike. This time, as with his recent speeches to promote the American Jobs Act, Obama is doing almost everything right regarding effective political messaging:

The Power of the Echo Chamber

The Republican communications machine includes a powerful echo chamber, comprised of Fox “News”, right wing talk radio (Rush Limbaugh, etc.), Republican elected officials and their surrogates, and others. Almost all of them are on the same page with the same talking points on a daily basis. Thus, Republican words and phrases, carefully crafted to benefit Republicans (e.g., “job creators”, “Obamacare”, etc.), get repeated through the right wing echo chamber and get absorbed into the mainstream. As a result, these words and phrases often become the basis for our political debate, giving the Republicans a huge home field advantage.

The Democratic echo chamber, in contrast, is tiny. There is little apparent effort, from the Obama White House or elsewhere, to coordinate a daily message using simple talking points, or, if there is, it has been a miserable failure. Likewise, there isn’t much of a discernible communications machine through which to echo that message through television and radio hosts, and then through viewers and listeners themselves.

That’s why a recent example of a Democratic talking point repeated by someone in the mainstream media was a pleasant surprise. President Obama said on the Tom Joyner Morning Show radio program on August 30 regarding anticipated negative reaction to his jobs plan by Congressional Republicans:

If Congress does not act, then I’m going to be going on the road and talking to folks, and this next election very well may end up being a referendum on whose vision of America is better.

Then, just a few hours later, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson said on MSNBC‘s “Hardball”, on the same subject:

Well, I think for the next 15 months, both sides can take their case to the American people and let them decide.

While Robinson’s language was not identical to Obama’s, it was very close, and the idea was exactly the same. Thus, it appears that Robinson heard President Obama on Tom Joyner a few hours earlier and sought to echo the President’s sentiment. If Democrats want to compete with Republicans, they will have to create a messaging echo chamber, and do much more of this.