Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obama's Metaphorical Campaign

President Obama began taking his case to the People, with a bus tour in Iowa, where part of his stump speech went like this:
If we're willing to do something in a balanced way--making some tough choices in terms of spending cuts, but also raising some revenue from folks who've done very well, even in a tough economy--then we can get control of our debt and deficit and we can start still investing in things like education and basic research and infrastructure that are going to make sure that our future is bright. It's not that complicated, but it does require everybody being willing to make some compromises.

I was in Holland, Michigan, the other day and I said, "I don't know about how things work in your house, but in my house if I said, 'You know, Michelle, honey, we got to cut back, so we're going to have you stop shopping completely--you can't buy shoes, you can't buy dresses--but I'm keeping my golf clubs'--you know, that wouldn't go over so well."
There is so much that is wrong with this, from the imbalance of his "balanced approach," to the Republican framing that assumes we must fix the deficit before the government can invest in needed programs, to the blatantly sexist analogy.

Digby lays it out in her typically incisive way:
First of all, once again, he's not actually talking about a "balanced approach." If he were he'd be proposing to tax the living hell out of corporations and wealthy individuals, not asking for some token tip money in exchange for cutting a big hole in the safety net. It's not "shared sacrifice" to ask wealthy people to give up money they will not miss in exchange for asking 65 year olds to wait an additional two years before qualifying for Medicare.
And then there is the unfortunate family metaphor, which is "so freighted with sexist 1950s stereotypes," with an argument "over whether the little woman gets to buy shoes and dresses or not."  As Digby says, "Evidently the president thinks that these drastic cuts in discretionary spending --- most of which hit the most vulnerable people in the nation --- are comparable to a fashionista having to cut back on her trips to Bloomingdales. And worse, the problem with all this is when hubbie won't give up golfing in exchange."

And finally, there is "the way the President frames the Democrats in this argument as the wives who have reluctantly agreed to give up their frilly little dresses and the Republicans as the stern husbands who nevertheless insist that they get to keep their golf clubs."

All in all, not a very promising way to kick off the campaign.


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