Thursday, September 3, 2009

Watering Down the Obama Brand

It's pretty amazing that so many conservatives are upset about the latest round of "Obaminmedia" coming up this week.

What's "Obamainmedia"? It's not the media's love affair with President Obama. It's the effort of putting the Obama Brand (i.e., the President, his past momentum from the election, etc.) out there on center stage whenever the polls indicate a lag or at times when other national Democrats are not pulling the weight a supermajority in Washington should.

Look at the issue with the students hearing the president speak on September 8th. Think about this presidential address of the joint session of Congress coming up next week.

Many conservatives are upset. They have some legitimate reasons, but I don't want to focus on that. Why do that when plenty others will do the same.

The focus is this.

The magic is fading away. The Obama brand name no longer carries the same weight that it did just a short year ago.

Like sands through the hour glass during Cinderella's magical night with the prince at the ball, President Obama's continued foray into the media in efforts to convince the American people of his plans for the nation occur periodically, with each instance finding him with a lower approval rating than the last. It is becoming his ball of political yarn each time he has to go out and stump for a directive he supports in Washington.

Granted, some of this has to do with the natural process of politics. People are more optimistic at the beginning of a historical presidential term than they would be, say, during the Dog Days of Summer. At the same time, these dog days have brought about none of the history-making impact to improve American quality of life for the better, even as we have seen historical growth and spending from Washington.

People ask as though the charm of the Obama Brand has the same potency that it had this time last year. It clearly does not. And it's not because conservatives are out there, trying to stop everything he does just because he's the first Black president of the United States.

It has everything to do with an unemployment rate that was supposed to stop at 8% but not is over 9.3% - and we're happy when it comes down .1%.

It has everything to do with a market recovery that hasn't shown enough signs of job recovery in tow to make consumers and employers more comfortable with the direction of the country.

It has everything to do with the president's DFQ: Dichotomy Frequency Quotient.

Examples of this inlcude:

  • The president goes in front of the NAACP to talk about personal accountability and education, but cuts funding to future (poor and disadvantaged) Black students in the DC Voucher program as well as to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).

  • He campaigns on a platform of efficiency and openness, only to find his stimulus and omnibus bills riddled with pork and waste while his "open" White House attracted critics earlier this year for its increased guardedness.

  • He clamoured over the financial crunch Americans were feeling on Wall Street yet he sent money overseas for abortion services at a time when America was in financial crisis.

  • He calls for bipartisanship but his political allies are looking into technical methods to skirt the rules in Congress, hoping that reconciliation may be a means to push through their health care agenda, even in the midst of protests and dropping approval ratings - and voters' confidence in his administration.

That pretty much has nothing to do with him being African-American. It does have a lot to do with moves that have eroded his credibility with the American people, polarized the nation, and tainted the number one thing he had going for him:

His image (and message) of hope and change for the better.

With that in mind, what is the negative impact of having an increasingly-beleaguered president - a historic figure, nonetheless, just due to being president - address schoolchildren? As long as these children have parents at home to talk to them about the address on the 8th - and these children can't go out and vote in November 2009 or even in 2010, for that matter- why not let them hear from their president? American children need to learn how to have pride in America once again, and they can get that from having respect for the presidency by viewing Obama's speech on the 8th, even if their parents give their kids the hands-on guidance of the political (and often very adult) issues aside from a one-time speech given to children in schools.

(After all, if a person in a television is the primary influence over children's lives, we'll have plenty of problems with the youth of America, including teenage pregnancy, violence, school drop-outs, and substance abuse...oops...)

Same is true with this address to Congress next week? Will the silvery words from a media-savvy president lagging in the polls (now under 50%) help the poor congressmen and congresswomen that have to face their angry constituents in the near future once again, this time as "humble civil servants" trying to earn votes for their upcoming elections? If the town hall meetings, the Tea Party Express, and the recent polls are any indication, the answer is a clear, resounding no.

The beauty of the American system is that the people and their politicians are capable of speaking clearly without reprisal in order to voice their concerns, demands, desires, and initiatives. Approval numbers for the president amongst the elderly, the young, independents, and even African-Americans are going down. For the Obama Brand - one that caught fire throughout the nation just a short time ago - the more we see and hear the president speak from the left as the leader of the Washington supermajority, the more water gets poured on this blazing brand as his contemporaries and he rain on their own parade.

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