A Chebby In The National Driveway & Lesson In Healthcare Messaging

24365333-d0ce332479a4cfa5f9580b59294330344a8c6481-scaled.thumbnail.jpgBarack Obama is bad and he’s nationwide. And he’s got a brand new ride. Check out the sled he has rolled up in the driveway of the South Portico of the White House (image by Mark Knoller). I guess when you own GM it ain’t that hard to get a Chevrolet.

Say what you will about NASCAR, they are the absolute masters of brilliant product placement, fan involvement and brand messaging. They never miss an opportunity, and always have the discipline, to be on message, be consistent, sell their ideology and run a forceful and effective PR ship. Today, that ruthless efficiency was brought to the White House and Barack Obama. From the LA Times:

Wednesday afternoon President Obama appeared live on the ESPN2 show "NASCAR Now." The show originated from the White House because three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was being honored for, well, being a NASCAR champion, on the South Lawn of the White House.

"NASCAR Now" host Nicole Manske and talented analyst Brad Daugherty grilled our president about who might win the Sprint Cup championship this year and what he thought about Johnson. We were rewarded with a penetrating answer to that question that included the quote: "He looks like a pretty young guy."

Like I said, brilliant. NASCAR got their champion driver, Jimmy Johnson, in the White House, rolled his #48 Rick Hendrick Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet Impala up for some glamor shots and prime video footage and they managed to get it all covered by ESPN for their proprietary NASCAR show, NASCAR Now.

Now that, folks, is how you sell your product. Were it only that the Barack Obama White House had a fraction of these skills in selling their national healthcare policy. Not so much. In fact, it has been an astoundingly flimsy and ill conceived pitch almost from the start, and we still don’t know what in the world Obama and the White House really stand for on the topic. As Adam Green at Open Left put it:

One could parse, and say Rahm’s quote could still include the possibility of bipartisanship, but still: there’s something called message discipline. The last four days have seen: statement, backtrack, statement, backtrack.

Seriously. Can someone describe for me some master plan that might be at play here? If not, White House communications team — WTF?

No kidding. As Adam noted, Jon Stewart sums it up beautifully:

Mr. President, I can’t tell if you’re a Jedi — 10 steps ahead of everything — or if this whole health-care thing is kickin’ your ass.

Well, so far, the smart money is on "kickin’ your ass" because Obama and the White House message team has allowed wingnuts, Republicans, big moneyed healthcare corporate interests, and traitorous Blue Dogs to run the show. Time to right the messaging ship.

What kind of burn out you going to leave us with Mr. President, that of a champion or that of a nation let down?

30 replies
  1. CTMET says:

    Stewart also said the Bush admin managed to sell a war noboody really wanted. Video of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc. pounding the BS over and over.

    Obama can’t even sell something 76% of the country supports.

  2. MadDog says:

    I’ve been contemplating on Obama’s political acumen and have come to the conclusion that while he’s certainly got superior oratory skills, the rest is at best average.

    What really bugs me is that VP Biden has better-than-average political skills, and for a man with both a sharp, and sometimes even a loose tongue, all is quiet on the Biden front.

    Rahmbo? He’s a cheap bagman with street-level knifefighting skills, but the self-promoted myth that he’s a “political strategist” would only hold true if he was in an argument with a four-year old.

    Hillary? If she’s giving Obama any non-foreign policy political advice, Obama & Co. ain’t listening.

    For all the political talent brought on board the Obama Administration, the actual political decisionmakers are swinging and missing.

    • PJEvans says:

      Rahmbo? He’s a cheap bagman with street-level knifefighting skills, but the self-promoted myth that he’s a “political strategist” would only hold true if he was in an argument with a four-year old.

      There are smart four-year-olds who could probably tie him in knots.

  3. Hmmm says:

    Yeh, weird, almost as though he didn’t really want to reform the health industry for the peoples’ benefit…

  4. commonbond says:

    Obama’s healthcare effort reminds me of Hillary’s primary campaign. Maybe I should have voted for her.

  5. Rayne says:

    We’re not going to see any real change to the messaging, though, until crunch time, sometime between the first of the month and Labor Day. As I’ve said ad nauseum, nobody launches new product in August.

    I’d also be watching for new winger messaging then, too.

    CTMET (1) — Bushies had raw, naked fear to use against our better judgment. They had only to point at the gaping hole of WTC to manipulate us. Obama doesn’t have that, and a guy who based his campaign on the “audacity of hope” can’t change gears hard enough to use fear even if he had a crisis to use.

    What’s called for is a better personal narrative which engages Americans. Long-time FDL reader RevDeb pointed to a nearly pitch-perfect video by Dana Gould for Bill Maher which is a good start. There’s no reason why our health care system should look like something from the third world.

  6. OldCoastie says:

    In fact, it has been an astoundingly flimsy and ill conceived pitch almost from the start

    it’s a feature, not a bug…

    • Synoia says:

      With that comment you are giving away your experience.

      The other one is, If you can’t fix it, feature it.

  7. Jkat says:

    i’ve been curious all along why such a great and polished orator as mr. obama .. has not used his huge bully pulpit advantage during this health insurance reform dogfight ..

    imo.. he could very easily stand up and say .. “these are the people who are obstructing your chance at a better health care insurance/delivery system .. and then name them ..and add .. call your congressman .. call your senator and tell them ” i want a public option .. i want single payer .. ”

    i’m barak obama ..your prez .. be sure and tell ‘em i sent ya” ..

    • bmaz says:

      And he could be woodshedding the Blue Dogs behind the scenes on what kind of support they can expect in the next election if things don’t go right. Maybe even negotiating with Collins, Snowe etc. I dunno, maybe some of that is going on, and if so you would hope it is kept private. I hope there is something positive we aren’t seeing.

      • Jkat says:

        yeah .. ditto that bmaz .. but there is obviously quite a battle going on behind the scenes .. otherwise why all these contradictory messages .. and then messages contradicting the contradictions ..

        shessh .. you’d think a clear and unequivocal “i’m FOR a public option” would settle the issue .. and i thought we’d already gotten that commitment..

        was that just me .. or did it happen ??

        • bmaz says:

          He said so on July 18 here. I recall the same thing many times before that. Never “I won’t tolerate anything but a bill with the PO” but certainly that it was the central feature of reform and absolutely necessary for cost containment.

  8. Hmmm says:

    Remember, in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, on The Island of Unwanted Toys, when the unwanted toys were all huddling ’round the campfire in the dark on Christmas Eve and saying “Well, it looks like Santa has passed us by again…”? That’s the feeling I’m trying not to have tonight. Can anyone here help me not have that feeling? Pleeeze?

  9. Hmmm says:

    Not to grasp at straws in an excessively pathetic manner or nuthin’, but: Hey, any chance the dust-up over “left of the left” etc. is ‘cuz they think they have a super-clever plan with this new 2-fork thingie, and they’re afraid we’ll queer the deal?

  10. redX says:

    Why sell something ya don’t want to sell, or consider not worth it.

    I guess the charitable view might end up being that leaving 50 million people uninsured, and nearly everyone else in the lurch is better than losing a few ”blue” dog seats.

    The alternative is that he is bought and paid for.

    As for 9-11, Obama has a huge gaping hole in the economy to point to.

  11. redX says:

    I know it would be tough and in some ways sad to destroy thr HII (congressional health care industry now) – but I did not see any tears shed for:

    Union destruction
    Manufacturing job destruction
    IT job destruction

    What makes everyone pissing mad is how one sided it all is – and that we get raped coming, going, and several times between.

  12. redX says:

    Santa does come that year. I hope you get your wish (or answer to prayers) this year.

    Sorry thats as optimistic as I can muster.

    • Hmmm says:

      Thanks for the good thought. I’m feeling much better today now that we have the unions arriving like the cavalry.

      (BTW if you click “reply” your comments will say which previous comments they’re responding to.)

  13. redX says:

    He brought people that been there for decades – big suprise they are doing the same thing.

    Oh, and ”looney lefties” are not allow at the ”grownup table” (aka business rules proles drool).

  14. WordBloom says:

    I would argue that this White House’s attempt at Health Care reform is a-lot like NASCAR. It just goes around and around and around while a bunch of half-wits watch, mouth agape and slack jawed– say stupid things and hope something crashes and blows up. All that is missing is a banner on the White House lawn that says “Get Er’ Done” or “Mission Accomplished.”

  15. PeorgieTirebiter says:

    Perhaps he knows what Jimmy Johnson knows. The real race starts on the last few laps. I’d say Obama has been wisely holding back and he’s just now making his move.

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