In telling the GOP to use the Obama playbook, yesterday, did Mark Thiessen calculate poorly in his Washington Post piece? He’s a very smart man, but I suspect he did:
Thiessen’s recommendation makes a deadly miscalculation: He forgets that Obama’s single-minded pursuits are fully backed and protected by the mainstream press.
Whether in print or broadcast, our increasingly lofty and elitist media are a little like the FDIC to Obama’s commercial bank; they provide insurance and coverage. They differ from the FDIC only in conditions and limits, because where this president is concerned, the media have none. Although he displays little respect for their assistance, Obama’s deposits are always accepted; his withdrawals are penalty-free and he is never asked to fill out a form, repay with interest or show two forms of ID.
There was a moment during the ’12 campaign where I understood with absolute certainty that Mitt Romney could never win the presidency, despite all the optimistic blog headlines. It was knowledge derived not from Romney’s weirdly beige campaign, flawed as it was, but by what I was seeing in my twitter feed, in the back-and-forth conversations among members of the press. It was already clear to anyone half-conscious that the press was actively working for Obama, but when Romney dropped his “47%” remark, the mainstream media glee was something breathtaking to behold: they had the political stiletto they needed to finish Romney off — or they believed Obama had it — and they could not contain their excitement. I even remarked to one fellow that I’d never seen him so beside himself, after which he toned it down a little. Recall, after Obama’s first, listless debate, how infuriated the press was that the president’ hadn’t used that talking point.
The mainstream media is what’s missing from Thiessen’s calculation:
As a college professor once informed me in bright red ink, “you cannot do mathematics if you don’t have all the numbers”, and any reconfiguration on the part of the GOP must acknowledge that, currently, the essential component of the press is unavailable to them; hence, their math will not work:
“My Will, Squared, times Digging-in-Heels, divided by [Executive Order] only equals “Glorious Victory” when it contains a cosine “D” and is calculated with a vector + MSM.
The same equation: “My Will, Squared, times Digging-in-Heels, divided by [Executive Order] with a cosine “R” and + ALT vector can never, ever equal “Glorious Victory”; it will instead calculate—as we have seen repeatedly since at least 1992—as “Imperialistic Arrogance, Brusque Tone-deaf” with a straggly and useless remainder of “Out of Touch.” [...]
Thiessen is an intelligent man, but the calculation he offers is so fundamentally flawed that were it a cartoon it might be called Atomic Stupidity. Picture Huey, Dewey, and Louie fighting at the chalkboard, with Uncle Donald breaking yardsticks in rage, while Pluto and Goofy are using the correct formulation and launching an A-bomb in their direction, even as they squabble.
Post-impact, they stagger around in disorientation, because they are cartoons, and do not realize that they are actually dead.
I’m pretty sure that’s the case, that Obama’s single-minded persistence has, with a great deal of help from the press (and a steady assist from the Republicans, themselves) effectively vaporized the GOP; I’m not sure they can ever succeed when they are fighting amongst themselves even as trained, lock-stepping adversaries in the press, popular media and the academy have them surrounded.
UPDATE: Matt Lewis has more thoughts on the incuriosity of the press when it comes to Obama.