During what's been one of the nastier, most expensive, fact-free and divisive presidential elections we've seen from Republicans, whether it was Mitt Romney going out and carpet-bombing his opponents with negative ads during the primary race, or him lying non-stop now that we're early into the primary season, it seems the talking heads in our corporate media are full of campaign advice for the Obama administration. And it generally consists of what we heard this Wednesday on CNN's The Situation Room from the likes of Gloria Borger, which is don't blame George W. Bush for the current economic problems we're still facing, or it might look like you're "whining."
I know why Republicans would prefer to ignore the fact that Bush ever existed and don't want him out on the campaign trail. It seems the likes of Borger and her ilk are happy to do the same as well by playing the role of concern troll and warning of dire consequences if heaven forbid the Obama campaign goes negative on Mitt Romney. Americans seem to have short enough memories as it is. I don't understand how reminding them of the cliff Bush was running the economy off of, or the fact that we've seen record obstruction from Republicans in getting us back out of that ditch could ever amount to a negative, or come across as "whining."
The press has allowed Mitt Romney to go out on the campaign trial and lie constantly, without doing the proper fact checking and rebutting the things he's been saying. As we've noted before here, Steve Benen has been doing a great job of doing that in his series on Romney, the latest of which you can read here: Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXI.
If Borger and her cohorts in the corporate media did a better job of laying out plainly to viewers the sheer number of lies Romney has been out there telling as Benen has been doing, and the fact that Romney wants to return us to the policies that drove our economy into the ditch to begin with, maybe President Obama wouldn't have to do so much "whining" out on the campaign trail. Borger seems to think that the Obama campaign should just universally disarm, because heaven forbid we can't have the voters thinking he's not nice.
Borger brought this up in the context of James Carville having some advice for the Obama campaign about what their message ought to be on the campaign trail and how they should be talking about their vision for the future. I don't understand how that's somehow mutually exclusive to continuing to remind voters about the economic ditch the Republican Party put this country in during Bush's time in office. If we'd had a recession of the magnitude under a Democrat's watch that we had under Bush, you know damn well the Republicans would be running on exactly that if the tables were turned and I don't think we'd see Borger say they were whining while doing it.
Transcript below the fold.
BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
He hasn't had a great few days, the president of the United States, in the last few days. A lot of economic challenges he faces right now. You've been looking into this.
BORGER: Yes, he's had a bad couple weeks, actually, Wolf. And what the president has an economic speech tomorrow as Jim was talking about, is he's got to defend his economic record in ways that people understand and then provide the context and I think you saw the president starting to do that, to say -- to remind people where we were and how far we've come.
But he's got to do that without whining and make it sound like he's blaming everything on George W. Bush. And then he needs to give voters some hope and optimism that things are headed in the right direction.
This is where Democrats are starting to have some problems. They disagree about what to do. Some say, look, just provide a different general vision from Mitt Romney. Other Democrats are saying absolutely not. You have to be specific plan for the economic future that's beyond what you've already told the American public.
Let me read you something from a Democratic group Democracy Corps, which conducted focus groups in Ohio and Pennsylvania with independent-minded voters. And they said this after the focus groups, "The voters are very sophisticated about the character of the economy. They know we're in a new normal where life is a struggle. And convincing them that things are good enough for those who have found jobs is a fool's errand. They want to know the plans for making things better in a serious way. Not just focused on finishing up the work of the recovery."
In other words, and it's signed by Stan Greenberg and our own James Carville -- and what this means is they're saying, you can't just say, OK, things are bad, it's getting better. You have to be the man with the plan and give people hope.
Have you heard about hope?
BLITZER: Hope and change.
BORGER: Right, you heard that.
BLITZER: Independent voters --
BORGER: They make a comeback.
BLITZER: Independent voters are going to be critical obviously in this election.
BLITZER: Are they satisfied with either candidate based on what you're saying?
BORGER: No, absolutely not. And if you look at the new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll out today, the question was asked: do you have an unfavorable opinion of the candidates' economic plan -- 54 percent unfavorable, Romney 47 percent unfavorable. So, neither one gets good grades. I think part of the problem is people don't know what they're economic plans are.
This isn't just a Barack Obama problem. It's also a Mitt Romney problem. He has a 59-point plan. What's a 59-point plan to most people? It's a muddle.
So, it has to be more defined. And I think President Obama's plan has to be more defined too.
BLITZER: What Romney does well is on day one, those commercials he does, I will do x, y and z. That's much more specific. Much more interesting than a 59-point plan.
BORGER: It needs to be narrowed a little.
BLITZER: Thank you, Gloria.
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