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Monday, March 8, 2010

President Obama's Problem Isn't Bad Marketing, It's A Bad Product!

Time Magazine gets it wrong. Way wrong. In a Sunday article entitled, "How Obama is Making the Same Mistakes as Bush," all of the "same mistakes" author Mark Halperin lists are marketing mistakes...

Halperin argues that Obama's problem is that he has "no chief economic spokesperson," that he has failed to "integrate policy, politics, and communication," that he's tied his "Administration's fate too closely to his own party's congressional leadership," and failed to "empower Cabinet members on domestic policy."

As the author of the piece would have you believe, Obama's problems are all related to how he sells his agenda to the American people and the tactics he employs to implement that agenda. He rejects outright the idea that maybe the Obama agenda itself is the problem. It's not that Obama's marketing sucks, it's that his product- fascist central-planning- does.

At the Washington Post, Jason Diehl also makes Halperin's mistake of putting on blinders to ideological and substantive policy issues, preferring instead to get bogged down in the mechanics of implementing Obama's plans for America and the world. While both Diehl and Halperin's criticisms may have merit, we must take off the blinders and dig deeper.

At my CAIVN column, I diagnose the real problem with Obama's Administration (and yes he is making the same mistakes as Bush, not because of failed strategies for implementing change, but because of a failure to make any substantive changes from Bush era policy in the first place):

It was only a year ago that President Obama was inaugurated in what some commentators hailed as a sweeping endorsement of socialism: more European-style central economic planning, federal regulation, and entitlement programs. But it would seem that the pundits misread the Democrats' victories in 2006 and 2008. America didn't want more, it wanted less.

Americans wanted change, and change after eight years of George W. Bush did not mean more government spending or involvement in our lives. It meant less unchecked executive power, less military involvement overseas, less spending, less secrecy, less corruption, less cronyism, and less partisan bickering. To take his victory as a mandate for a more socialist re-ordering of American society may have been a fatal mistake by the fledgling Obama Administration.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan slams Halperin's piece (h.t. Political Wire), but not for the reason I do above, not because Sullivan sees that it's a product problem, not a marketing one. Instead he predictably whines that Halperin is being too hard on Obama and that the present administration's marketing is good after all. It's ironic that he calls Halperin "brain-dead" while forgetting to use his own brain.

Jonathan Bernstein on the other hand, has the right idea when he says: "Halperin seems to believe that George W. Bush's economic policies were unpopular, and Bill Clinton's were popular, because Robert Rubin was good on TV and John Snow wasn't. This is, as anyone could figure out with a moment's thought, nonsense." Exactly. Substance, not marketing, is the problem with the Obama Administration.


  1. The Obama machine is nothing if not a great marketing machine. They marketed the man like a rock star and I would love to be a fly on the wall behind the scenes. His product is his policies. His policies are failure on the largest scale. He leans us with his policies too far to the Eurpoean way, and considering our ancestors sailed across an ocean to get away from that kind of thing, he should realize its unwanted.

    With all the indicators of recent elections and tea party protests I wonder, since they haven't gotten the idea yet, if he will get it with the coming midterms.

  2. I'll be thrilled to see some gridlock in our near future.

  3. The product speaks for itself. It violates what most people want and his latest mentality has been to force people to buy the product.

    But the media getting it wrong doesn't surprise me. I'm not of the school that thinks it is a big evil conspiratorial indoctrination machine. I am of the school that these people can't think outside of the rut they're surrounded in every day. They watch tv, read the paper, etc. and see their buddies spewing basically the same mentality they repeat. If they were removed from that cycle and inundation of media, they would be a little more capable of thinking in different ways (which is the problem with not just the media, but the masses as well).

    You can't expect someone who was taught "how to think" to think for themselves.

  4. I have to disagree with most of the analysis above. Obama rhetorically managed to embellish his policies with base statements of "every man woman and child have a "right", a God given right to healthcare" (not a direct quote). However, the implementation of policy that would lead to all people obtaining healthcare is socialized medicine. (note: Obama would never say "socialized" medicine, which is what his policy creates) He mismarketed what he was selling, but, i think most people at least bought what he was mismarketing, and many (socialist liberals pawning themselves off as democrats) even bought the concept he never marketed, which was socialized medicine. i think most people in this country dont want more freedom, but rather, to reap the benefits of whatever they can. That means for the young and those without healthcare, free healthcare services without any accountability. I personally detest Obamanism as it directly undermines any sense of personal accountability and limits my ability to pursue my dreams to the fullest. Truthfully, as a young college student free healthcare would benefit me. But i understand that its not really free, some hardworking American paying a mortgage and sending three kids to college is paying for my healthcare, his families, and 10 others. Also, what no one ever really thinks about is the consequences of creating another government run program. Social security is crippling our nation, and while it seemed great in the 30s it has had dire consequences today. Healthcare, in a similar vain to every other program (like medicaid medicare and every other crock pot liberally funded program) will fall apart and Americans will wonder what is happening to their once great country. The world at whole is moving in a direction of limitation on freedom. Why cant a bastion for capitalism and positive and free ideals exist in at least one place in the world. The reason: stupid people. Stupid people who actually agree with Obama and even his marketing. As Winston Churchill once said "a conversation with the average voter is a case against democracy"

  5. Obama's health care policy or product is garbage. He may be good at sales but what salesman could sell garbage? NONE. This is European style socialist health care that he wants to shove down the peoples' throats. The majority of the American people have spoken and are against this bill that is socialized medicine. His far leftist ideology is driving his blinders to the American peoples' needs with regards to accessibility and affordability in health care. The Republicans have some very good ideas about how to solve those aforementioned issues related to health care but both he and Democrats are more interested in attaining more power and control over our lives via this government takeover of health care than actually solving the problems with relation to health care.

  6. Bravo to Anonymous, I really like what you had to say.

  7. Anonymous, I have to disagree. I like where you're coming from as someone who agrees on the destructiveness of Obama's policies, but I think the American people on the whole do want their freedom.

  8. Ok, just wanted to clarify - ObamaCare is not even close to European health care system. European health care is a single payer system and works pretty well for most of the population. So yeah, do some research before opening your mouth. I lived in Denmark for 5 years with a government run single payer system and did not have any problems whatsoever.

  9. Personal anecdotes to the contrary notwithstanding, central economic planning fails in theory and in practice to produce superior or even equivalent results to those produced by the free and voluntary interactions of enterprising people.