I don’t understand reasoning like this (sorry for the longish excerpt):
There is something preposterous about how the administration and congressional Democrats have lost every major public argument that they should be winning.
They lost it on a stimulus bill that clearly lifted the economy, as Alan Blinder, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, argued persuasively in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. They are losing it on the health-care bill, a big improvement on the current system enacted through a process that made it look like a tar ball on an Alabama beach. They are losing it on the deficit even though it was Republicans who cut taxes twice while the Bush administration was starting two wars.
Obama is often criticized for being too professorial. The irony is that Republicans who have little to say about how to solve the nation’s major problems are dominating the country’s underlying philosophical narrative.
From Plaquemines Parish to Wall Street, we are seeing what happens when government takes too hands-off an approach to private economic actors. Yet the GOP is managing to sell the idea that the big issue in this election should be . . . government spending.
Professor Obama and his allies ought to be ashamed of this. The cure for malaise is to have a self-confident sense of purpose, and to act boldly in its pursuit.
I’d like the Obama administration to have had a bigger stimulus bill and to have possibly done a second one. I’d like for there to have been a public option in the health care bill.
But how would self-confidence alone have gotten this through? You need votes, not swagger.
There are obvious structural reasons why Republicans dominate the country’s philosophical narrative, many of them involving national media (which is someone who works at the Post will never admit it). But, as Jon Chait pointed out recently, the difference between journalists and political scientists is that journalists will always take a narrative (“Obama isn’t tough enough”) over a structural explanation (conservatives essentially control the media and the economy sucks).