Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The 'Bush Recovery' Narrative: How Dems Might Squander Their '06 Opportunity

Reporters are tripping over themselves proclaiming Bush's 'recovery' and the Dems' confusion. This, after a 48 hour p.r. blitz from the White House:
And this is just print stories; the same rush to find Bush's silver lining in any piece of good news afflicts other media. Cable news nets are eagerly enabling Bush's photo-op 'recovery'. As I write this, CNN is discussing how "upbeat" Bush seems lately. One CNN anchor describes Bush's demeanor at his press conference: "Two words: confident and upbeat." (Perhaps this impression is based on Bush's inappropriate clowning with reporters about the gravest of issues.)

Steve Benen notes the re-emerging theme and looks more closely at the 'good' news reporters and Republicans are crowing about:
"Knight Ridder said Bush "is on a bit of a roll." Roll Call reported that "Republicans are taking the past two weeks' run of good news as evidence that the party's political fortunes may be on the rebound." The WaPo emphasized the "spate of positive developments" that may interrupt "the president's months-long slide in opinion polls." The New York Daily News quoted a top Republican source saying, "We've got so much good news popping out these days I don't know where to start."

Please. I never root for bad news, but the recent events that have the GOP so excited aren't indicative of a party — or an agenda — on the comeback trail..."
Kevin Drum adds:
"Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. The GOP barely won a congressional election in a district that's 60% Republican. After a year of looking, the White House finally persuaded someone to become Secretary of the Treasury. They killed a terrorist they could have killed three years ago if they'd wanted to. And Bush's top aide has "avoided criminal charges."

Next up: FEMA fails to screw up after Hurricane Alberto is downgraded to a tropical storm. Another triumph for the White House!"

Tom Legg channels Stephen Colbert:
"After a week of pandering to the gay haters, xenophobes, and old rich Republicans, the Busheviks dropped a few 500 pound smart bombs for TV and wheeled out the quite well preserved corpse of boogeyman #1.... As Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central put it at the White House Correspondent's Dinner a month ago:

I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

One of the key points that Colbert didn't satirise about the Busheviks is their steadfast belief in the importance of "momentum". Unka KKKarl Rove firmly believes that momentum is the key to building and maintaining popularity, which is one thing the Busheviks are currently lacking. So of course America should expect a week or two of political grandstanding on the war in Iraq..."
Greg Sargent offers his take:

"Yesterday morning I predicted that Karl Rove's escape from legal jeopardy -- combined with the killing of Zarqawi -- would lead the media to start chanting a Bush-begins-his-rebound chorus. Well, the conductor has lifted his baton, and right on cue, the singing has begun."

Taylor Marsh keeps it simple:
Operation save Bush's presidential butt has begun.
Now ask yourself: why isn't it enough to simply report the news? Why the instant need to write Bush-propping process stories? Why the mad rush to speculate about Bush's "long-sought" boost?

Stirling Newberry opines:
"Bush is going to control the media image cycle, because he has the US military working to produce photo ops for him, and the US military to airlift him to where he needs to be. He also has hundreds of billions of dollars of pork to slosh around the country in order to tip marginal districts in his party's favor come November. Against this top down pressure of a top down economy backed by a top down broadcast system, is a different, and new politics, pressure. That pressure comes from the fact that for every dollar Bush spatters in pork, there are dozens of people who do not get the dollar, but pay the higher inflationary costs for it. For every person who jumps in Pavlovian response to a Bush scalp, there are others waiting for their son to come home."
As Bush's numbers have spiraled downward, the outrageous sycophancy chronicled daily by Media Matters and in book form by Eric Boehlert has subsided somewhat. But the pro-Bush and anti-Dem narratives I've written about haven't changed. And the danger here is clear: any uptick in Bush's polls will be seized upon by the hungry press and spun within an inch of reality to revive the heady years where a 'resolute' Bush could do no wrong and Democrats were mixed up, mangled and muddled.

Democrats would do well to heed that danger going into the midterms. The anti-left and pro-right narratives are unbroken, they've simply been muffled by Bush's plummet in the polls. This recent spate of articles is evidence that the storylines can be revved up at a moment's notice.

Soft, divided, whining, troop-hating, over-eager Democrats battling tough, determined Republicans basking in the glow of Bush's rebound -- that's the storyline we could be dealing with heading into November. Are we ready?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Soft, divided, whining, troop-hating, over-eager Democrats..."

This is exactly how the left is viewed. What would one expect with the left's drumbeat campaign of "I Hate Bush" and failure to put forth any ideas.

Hoping for Bush to fail so the left can regain power, is not a winning strategy.


6/14/2006 12:50 PM  
Anonymous JT said...

Playing Devil's Advocate here:

Dare I say that a Bush rebound might actually help Democrats in the Fall? Here's my logic:

1. Midterm elections are about the base turning out. Except in-once-in-a-lifetime situations (like 2002), most of the electorate couldn't even name their U.S. Rep, let alone be bothered to turn out to vote for him/her.

2. The Democratic base is geared up for this one, folks. We're eager to get a win and end the 0-3 streak we're currently on. To use another bad sports analogy: We're Hungry. And nothing, short of a nationwide earthquake, is going to keep Dems from the polls come November. Also, thanks to Dean's 50 state strategy, there's no Republican incumbent who should feel safe.

3. The "Bush is making a comeback" meme could backfire and actually lower Republican turnout during these midterms. Rovian strategy for the midterms has so far tended towards the "Democrats will obstruct our agenda" theme. If the Republican base feels that Bush is strong enough to regard this as a non-issue, it has the possibilty to erode their already predicted lower-than-normal turnout. This may not make a difference is heavily Republican-skewed districts (the recent SD special election comes to mind) but puts everything within 10-15% points into play.

Just throwing that out there. Feel free to shoot it down.

6/14/2006 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Listened to Bush this AM while driving to the hills to walk my dogs. Truth: he sounded amazing -- vigorous, relaxed, confident, friendly, in good humor... I believe that the press responds like my dogs. Just like most people, reporters and analysts only "think" after they've reacted as animals to the animal in front of them. That reaction fathers the "thought" behind the story. It's infuriating, but there it is.


6/14/2006 1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JT said...

Democrats would have a much better opportunity to gain seats if they could present viable ideas and solutions. The drumbeat of Bush hatred isnot a winner.

Thismorning, I listened to a Cspan interview with Lynn Woolsey D-CA. She was asked directly who she thought America's foremost enemy was. She said "America was"....

6/14/2006 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Tom - Daai Tou Laam said...

One thing I didn't note and surely isn't being noted by the press is that the Busheviks tipped their hand on the Iraqi insurgency with their non-notification.

The Busheviks obviously know that the insurgency is being commanded from INSIDE THE GREEN ZONE. There would have been no need to keep the Iraqi government in the dark about the visit, if they weren't afraid the government would tip off insurgents to Dear Leader's flak jacket wearing ass in a helicopter flying from the Baghdad airport to the Green Zone.

And RT, the Dems are the ones that have been fighting for funding for the VA and the Busheviks have been all about cutting funds for the troops, both on the ground and at the VA, in order to divert the cash to their cronies and privatised security forces *cough*mercs*cough*.

6/14/2006 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have real difficulty with the repeated claim that ideas are needed to beat Bush.

Clearly ideas and truth have little to do with his success - doesn't it risk falling into an elitist trap to insist the voters meet us and consider our ideas where Bush indicates quite clearly that it is not ideas that they are really seeking?

Or if I'm wrong and the people are seeking ideas clearly it isn't from us so what are the ideas of Bush and Co that have their hearts and minds?

6/14/2006 10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that anyone can say he sounded "vigorous, relaxed, confident, friendly, in good humor..." I watched the clip and he was angry, tired, sophomoric--everything that John Stewart said he was last night, and more. People continually misread his affect (emotion). You should have seen the curl on his lips when he mocked the blind reporter for wearing dark glasses. Nothing has changed, this is simply the same old swagger, the same contempt.

6/15/2006 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the person above who said "I have real difficulty with the repeated claim that ideas are needed to beat Bush. "

The Dems don't need ideas. They need sound bites, nationally organized daily talking points from the top down, everybody on message, and they need to get a succinct, biting, truthful way of debunking all of these ridiculous, sorry-ass press releases that become articles of faith.

6/15/2006 12:00 PM  

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