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It Is the Policy, Not the Messaging

President Barack Obama talks with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice.

I found this section from Noam Scheiber’s look at Valarie Jarrett’s role in the Obama White House perfectly highlights the administration’s biggest political problems. From the New Republic:

Valerie Jarrett is not above keeping a shit list—or as hers was titled, a “least constructive” list. One progressive activist recalls Jarrett holding the document during a meeting and noticing her own name on it, along with the names of others in the room. “It was kind of an honor,” the activist told me. This was not out of character for Jarrett. The woman who once resisted Emanuel’s commandment against rewarding bad behavior has often gone out of her way to suppress dissent among ideological allies and others who question the president. (A White House official says the document was prepared by a staffer acting without orders and that it is not a common practice.) […]

Jarrett’s highly disciplined outreach effort had been a tactical mess. While the White House held some two-dozen meetings to take the pulse of activists throughout the summer, there was rarely a meaningful back-and-forth on strategy, especially in the run-up to the big announcements. “It does make it hard for dissenting voices to be raised,” says another activist who deals with the administration on the issue. “Almost everything is raised to the level of personal loyalty.”

The administration seems to believe that if Obama cuts a tree down in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound unless some liberal commentator points it out. It is all about perception, not reality.

They seem to believe the problems only come from failing to control the narrative, not that Obama broke his promises or that his policy decisions produced bad results. They seem to think no one realizes that Obama made mistakes if they just bully a few leaders into staying quiet.

The Obama team thinks they are some super geniuses at politics who can play all the angles like no one else, but the simple fact is politics is not that difficult. You do your best to keep your promises. If something is good policy and is popular, you do it. If something is good policy but not popular, you either hope it will produce enough positive results that it will become popular, or you ask activists to work to get the public on board before hand. Most of the administration’s attempts at super clever political moves to play all sides just ended up in disaster.

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It Is the Policy, Not the Messaging

President Barack Obama talks with Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice.

I found this section from Noam Scheiber’s look at Valarie Jarrett’s role in the Obama White House perfectly highlights the administration’s biggest political problems. From the New Republic:

Valerie Jarrett is not above keeping a shit list—or as hers was titled, a “least constructive” list. One progressive activist recalls Jarrett holding the document during a meeting and noticing her own name on it, along with the names of others in the room. “It was kind of an honor,” the activist told me. This was not out of character for Jarrett. The woman who once resisted Emanuel’s commandment against rewarding bad behavior has often gone out of her way to suppress dissent among ideological allies and others who question the president. (A White House official says the document was prepared by a staffer acting without orders and that it is not a common practice.) […]

Jarrett’s highly disciplined outreach effort had been a tactical mess. While the White House held some two-dozen meetings to take the pulse of activists throughout the summer, there was rarely a meaningful back-and-forth on strategy, especially in the run-up to the big announcements. “It does make it hard for dissenting voices to be raised,” says another activist who deals with the administration on the issue. “Almost everything is raised to the level of personal loyalty.”

The administration seems to believe that if Obama cuts a tree down in the forest, it doesn’t make a sound unless some liberal commentator points it out. It is all about perception, not reality.

They seem to believe the problems only come from failing to control the narrative, not that Obama broke his promises or that his policy decisions produced bad results. They seem to think no one realizes that Obama made mistakes if they just bully a few leaders into staying quiet.

The Obama team thinks they are some super geniuses at politics who can play all the angles like no one else, but the simple fact is politics is not that difficult. You do your best to keep your promises. If something is good policy and is popular, you do it. If something is good policy but not popular, you either hope it will produce enough positive results that it will become popular, or you ask activists to work to get the public on board before hand. Most of the administration’s attempts at super clever political moves to play all sides just ended up in disaster. (more…)

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com