OBAMA: GOP ‘BETTING ON AMNESIA’…. President Obama was in Atlanta yesterday afternoon, and after speaking on U.S. policy in Iraq at the convention of Disabled American Veterans, he appeared at a DNC fundraiser.
That Obama is clearly in campaign mode is no longer especially noteworthy, but these speeches are interesting to the extent that they offer a look at the message Democrats will be pushing between now and November. For the president, that means urging voters not to let the country slip backwards: “[T]he choice is whether we want to go forward or we want to go backwards to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”
“Now, understand, it’d be one thing if the Republicans had seen the error of their ways. (Laughter.) Right? I mean, if after the rejections of 2006 and 2008, realizing, gosh, look at this big disaster that we caused and taking record surpluses into record deficits and causing all this hardship — we’re going to rethink our approach and go out in the wilderness for a while, come back with some new ideas. (Laughter.)
“But that’s not what happened. It’s not like they’ve engaged in some heavy reflection. They have not come up with a single, solitary, new idea to address the challenges of the American people. They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas — not one. (Applause.)
“Instead, they’re betting on amnesia. (Laughter.) That’s what they’re counting on. They’re counting on that you all forgot. They think that they can run the okey-doke on you. (Laughter.) Bamboozle you.” (Laughter.)
It’s clearly a fair point. In 2006 and 2008, Republicans suffered some pretty stunning electoral setbacks, and in the wake of those defeats, the party changed … nothing. No new ideas, no shifts to the middle, no new approaches to solving problems. Indeed, for the most part, they’ve done the opposite — asking voters to give them a chance to pursue the “exact same” agenda that didn’t work when Bush/Cheney tried it.
And so the undercurrent of the GOP message really is predicated on memory loss — so long as voters don’t remember the mess Republicans created, and don’t remember the failures of their agenda when they pushed it before, they should do fine.
What Obama didn’t mention is that the Republicans’ tack may very well work — because voters really do tend to have short memories.
In his Atlanta remarks, the president also made use of the car metaphor he’s grown to love.
“I mean, think about it, these are the folks who were behind the steering wheel and drove the car into the ditch. So we’ve had to put on our galoshes, we went down there in the mud, we’ve been pushing, we’ve been shoving. They’ve been standing back, watching, saying, ‘You’re not moving fast enough, you ain’t doing it right. (Laughter.) Why are you doing it that way? You got some mud on the car.’ Right? (Applause.)
“That’s all right. We don’t need help. We’re just going to keep on pushing. We push, we push. The thing is slipping a little bit, but we stay with it. Finally — finally — we get this car out of the ditch, where we’re just right there on the blacktop. We’re about to start driving forward again. They say, ‘Hold on, we want the keys back.’ (Laughter and applause.) You can’t have the keys back — you don’t know how to drive. (Laughter and applause.) You don’t know how to drive.
“And I do want to point out, when you get in your car, when you go forward, what do you do? You put it in ‘D.’ When you want to go back, what do you do? (Laughter.) You put it in ‘R.’ We won’t do want to go into reverse back in the ditch. We want to go forwards. We got to put it in ‘D.’ (Applause.) Can’t have the keys back.” (Laughter.)
I don’t imagine this is the last time we’ll hear this.
In terms of issues, the president went on to call out congressional Republicans — who love showing up for “ribbon-cuttings” when funds are being spent — for blocking small business tax cuts, blocking infrastructure investment, blocking clean energy jobs, vowing to repeal health care reform, vowing to repeal Wall Street reform, opposing student loan reform, opposing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, supporting tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires without paying for them, protecting oil companies like BP, and opposing the rescue of the auto industry.
That may sound like a lot, but it’s only because it’s a target-rich environment.