His rapid trajectory of political success started on the streets and in neighborhood gatherings on the south side of Chicago, and now the Community Organizer-in-Chief is applying his street savvy instincts again to the conditions he finds people in, which is change they didn’t count on.
Interesting strategy. The people are angry at the way business is being done, but he sees their anger and jumps into the crowd and tries to lead the charge against….what’s making them angry. Never mind that it’s how business is being done under him.
Obama’s expansive domestic goals are largely the same, but his message is changing, now constructed around a concession that the public is disillusioned and wanting results. If he cannot show people that he understands their frustration and is working to fix it, the risks are real.
All that angst that Obama wants to harness as a force for change — as he did in his campaign — will turn against him. That means eroding public support for his agenda and potentially big losses for his party this year in congressional midterm elections.
Obama realized that the voter frustration he had played on to win the White House was exactly the same force behind Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.
A new White House talking point was born, and it was hardly hope and change.
On that same day of postelection analysis, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs used some description of anger, frustration or both 12 times to describe what people were feeling, including this one: “That anger is now pointed at us, because we’re in charge. Rightly so.”
There’s some rare introspection from this White House.
So the new strategy is identifying with the people’s anger, saying he understands that and shares their frustration, and then proceeding to blame lack of progress on someone else.
He must connect to people’s bitterness without becoming exactly the person he warns about, politicians who exploit anger. And he has to personally relate to people’s wrenching financial losses when his natural style is to speak in a professorial, explanatory way.
Even Obama has lamented a sense of public detachment from all his difficult first-year work, and has said he wants to do an improved job of communicating directly to people.
That’s getting noticeably harder suddenly, after the health care summit showed him moderating a seven hour debate with Republicans, and a new row has erupted in liberal media quarters over some internal dissension in the highest White House ranks.
Beyond the disloyalty and all that, the real reason the Milbank column has enraged so many left-wing bloggers and liberal columnists is that Emanuel’s understanding of the political landscape puts him in the reality-based community. And that is a community the Obama cult refuses to join.
So, ultimately, he can’t organize it. But the citizens are capable of doing that now on their own.