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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Reality Problem, Not a Messaging Problem

At The New York Times, Stanley and Anna Greenberg write that President Obama "declined to really spend time and capital explaining his initiatives in an effective way. He believed that positive changes on the ground, especially from economic policies and the Affordable Care Act, would succeed, vindicating his judgment and marginalizing his opponents."

This argument does not make much sense.  Obama spent a great deal of time explaining his policies. The problem is that the explanations did not track with reality. PolitiFact found 37 instances in which President Barack Obama or a top administration official said something like, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” referring to health insurance.  Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said in 2014: Obama “should never have said as much as he did, that if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it. That wasn't true. And you shouldn't lie to people. And they just lied to people.”

Foreign policy presents a darker picture.  Aleppo has fallen.  Leon Wiesltier writes:
Contemplating the extermination of Aleppo and its people, I was reminded of a sentence that I read this summer. It appeared in an encomium to Elie Wiesel shortly after his death. It was a sterling sentence. It declared: “We must never be bystanders to injustice or indifferent to suffering.” That was Wiesel’s teaching, exactly. The problem with the sentence is that it was issued by the White House and attributed to President Obama. And so the sentence was not at all sterling. It was outrageously hypocritical.
I wrote in CQ Researcher:
In 2009, Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. The award was not for his accomplishments — he had served for only a few weeks — but instead reflected the hope that he would make a real difference for the cause of world peace. The data suggest otherwise. Between 2010 and 2015, fatalities in armed conflicts around the globe more than tripled, from 49,000 to 167,000. Obviously, the president was not to blame for all of this bloodshed, but in some places he bore at least some responsibility. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes that “allowing Syria's civil war and suffering to drag on unchallenged has been his worst mistake, casting a shadow over his legacy.”
Proverbs 25:14 provides an epitaph for the Obama presidency: “Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given.”