Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 30, 2010

THE WHITE HOUSE WHITE BOARD MAKES ITS DEBUT.... It often seems as if Democrats would be more likely to win policy debates if the public actually understood what the debate is all about. It's tempting to think getting everyone into a giant classroom, and handing Professor Obama a sharpie and a dry-erase board would do wonders for the public discourse.

As it turns out, the White House sees some value in this, too, and today unveiled the "White House White Board." The president's not in it -- and least not in this first edition -- but Austan Goolsbee, the new chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, has the pen and the dry-erase board, and he does a nice job explaining the debate over tax policy.

It's fairly brief, and it's the kind of explanation that should be easily understood by most of the public. (I would have made it a little longer -- it's worth explaining why tax breaks for millionaires don't do much to help the economy -- but I can appreciate why the White House felt compelled to keep it as short as possible.)

Here's hoping there will be many more of these. Trying to get a message out is obviously tricky -- speeches tend to be long; the media prefers quick sound bites; and few are willing to read policy papers -- but an explanation of a policy debate in a video that's under two minutes strikes me as a clever and worthwhile idea.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Nice!
It's also more modern than Prof. Beck's old chalkboard.
Cue Beck to start screaming about Democrats copying him in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 30, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

An open question about liberals...

That's good.
And yet, one should compare it to today's Doonesbury comic.

Which leads me to this question:

Once upon a time, were liberals smart enough not to attack
a Democratic president 33 days out from the midterms?

Posted by: koreyel on September 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Great! Now will the WH be smart enough to get the word out that this EXISTS??? You know, the whole tree in the forest thingy?

Posted by: SYSPROG on September 30, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

yeah.... I can see a Maureen Dowd column coming on this one......


But... I do see a Frank Rich Colbert column for sure! What's the over/under on that happening?


In fact, The Wash Monthly should start it's own Fantasy Political Board..... such bets as next Dowd column on ______? or next appearance of John McCain (2 wks, 3wks, etc.)

Posted by: Mike Reilly on September 30, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time, were liberals smart enough not to attack a Democratic president 33 days out from the midterms? -koreyel

Once upon a time, were Democratic presidents smart enough not to attack liberals 33 days out from the midterms?

Posted by: doubtful on September 30, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I like it! But, as SYSPROG asks above, is there any sign that they're working to get the word out that this exists? I can e-mail a link to all of my friends and relatives, but what about a GOTV-like effort to let people know about it.

Posted by: Michigoose on September 30, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I may be a Senior Citizen, but I'm still a hip enough cool cat to offer this advice to the White House:

Spend an hour surfing YouTube, especially the viral stuff- and then do likewise! (How many times have you seen the bear/tree/trampoline on TeeVee?)

Posted by: DAY on September 30, 2010 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

is there any sign that they're working to get the word out that this exists?

If you are on their email list- I have an email from Axelrod , 9AM this morning, introducing the Goolsbee video

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on September 30, 2010 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with White House messaging is not the White House. At least not always the White House. The fundamental problem is the lack of an echo chamber. Here's how it normally breaks down:

1 - The Obama WH tries to put our a meme on taxes (or Health care or something else). This usually starts with Obama doing a big speech and stressing the message during the Saturday radio address.

2 - Gibbs will usually try and push the talking point during his briefings, as will the spokespeople at whatever cabinet agency is most directly involved with the initiative.

3 - The press, if its chooses to cover it at all, will usually just paraphrase Obama's speech. There are unlikely to be any direct quotes or footage of the President actually speaking.

4 - Any coverage of the daily briefings from Gibbs will only cover whatever issue the press is currently harping about that day (the lead story on Drudge).

5 - The congressional Democrats who are interviewed on the Sunday shows will either a) not mention the White House message at all or (most often) b) outright contradict it. This is largely because the 'liberal' media has a tendency to pick blue dog Democrats over progressives for interviews.

6 - Whatever Republican congresspeople are interviewed will all say, repeatedly, the exact same thing in opposition to President's message.

So what does the public hear. Most never bother going to the White House webpage. Or seeking out Obama's message. And those that do are generally people who already support the plan. So public gets is an abbreviated version of the President's message from the press. Rarely in his words. And that's followed by a mixed message from congressional Democrats most whom seem skeptical to the idea. And that's topped off by universal opposition from Republicans.

Cap that off with constant harping about 'bipartistionship' and looks like the President, instead of being in the mainstream, is off in his own little land, opposed by elements of his own party and all the Republicans.

Is it any wonder its so easy for so much of the media to claim Obama is an 'extremist' or 'far lefty'?

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 30, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

The lack of a lest of center echo room is part of the problem but simple explanations of policy changes from the White House is an encouraging start.

Bravo

Posted by: Jamie on September 30, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Once upon a time, were Democratic presidents smart enough not to attack liberals 33 days out from the midterms?"

That's what I was going to say, but "doubtful" beat me to it. Perfect.

Posted by: msmolly on September 30, 2010 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Forget the whole "tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are the least effective way to stimulate the economy" thing...

"Republicans in Congress want to borrow $700 billion and give it to Rupert Murdoch and other billionaires. Do you think that's a good idea?"

Posted by: MCD on September 30, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

For the love of God, this is completely pointless.

The vast majority of voters do not decide who to vote for by studying the merits of various policy positions and then finding out what politicians support those positions.

Most people ask themselves a very simple question "Who is on my side? Who will fight for me?" Most people assume that if an intelligent and informed politician is on their side, the politician will arrive at the best policy.

The problem that Obama and the Dems have is not that they are losing some imaginary and academic policy debate. Their problem is that an increasing number of Democrats and independents think that Obama and the Dems largely are not "on their side". Instead, it is believed that the President and the party leaders are largely fighting for the wealthy and large corporations: Wall Street and international banks, oil companies, insurance companies, drug companies, etc.

Firing Alan Simpson would have done a hell of a lot more to "win the debate" that launching websites about policy.

Posted by: square1 on September 30, 2010 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time, were Democratic presidents smart enough not to attack liberals 33 days out from the midterms?

Yes I agree.
Never underestimated the sensitive egos of extremists.
They will find slights under every word...
And put downs behind every potted plant.
Must have something to do with the hair shirts they wear with such passion...

Posted by: koreyel on September 30, 2010 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

"It often seems as if Democrats would be more likely to win policy debates if they stopped taking policy direction from the extreme right."

Fixed that for you. No amount of Obama-blather will fix what is wrong with the whitehouse's policy goals. Nor will it fix the huge chasm between what candidate obama promised to fight for and what president obama actually wanted.

Posted by: Tlaloc on September 30, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

thorin-1, thank you for distressingly accurate explanation of Obama's media problem.

Koreyel, I think the progressives' problem must be no civics classes-didn't learn how Congress works, as designed, to make it difficult to accomplish anything, and only mythic memories of Roosevelt/LBJ- not realizing how pathetic Social Security and Medicare were as originally enacted.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on September 30, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the absurdity on this thread. Who the fuck thinks that most Americans oppose raising taxes on the wealthy? Hell, most wealthy Americans support raising their own taxes. This isn't a "debate" that Democrats need to win. Instead, you need to convince voters that Dems will actually do it.

Now, let's see. How could Democrats convince voters? I know! Introduce a fucking bill that extends the middle class tax cuts but not the $250k+ tax cuts. No? Maybe a you tube video of a whiteboard should do the trick. Either one. Whatever. Blame Jane Hamsher if it doesn't work.

Posted by: square1 on September 30, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why didn't they call it the White House Black Board?

Oh, right, we can't have that.

Posted by: josef on September 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

This is great.

Now, if only the Democrats will support President Obama's plan.

Posted by: Chase on October 1, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Lets talk promptly:)

legitimate work from home

Posted by: legitimateworkfromhome on October 1, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

HA, here is more commentary on the infamous white board
http://wall-street-buffoon.com/2010/10/06/white-house-white-board-cea-chair-austan-goolsbee-explains-the-tax-cut-fight/

Posted by: Davido on October 6, 2010 at 12:34 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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