Post Racial, Post Messaging, Recessionary America

Laugh in the Face of FearI get upset when one person doesn’t like me. Imagine millions of people spewing vile in your direction every minute of every day. People who define their life, it seems, by dissecting every word and every move you make so they can find an opening to attack you maliciously and relentlessly. This is American politics today.

Today, as the markets nose dive and economic indicators are grim, and we have a brief respite from the Slasher Debt Crisis, politicians all over America are trying to re-jigger their messages and blame someone else for a lousy economy and a horrible state of public discourse.

Barack Obama ran on the a platform of bringing change to politics in Washington. Now he blames “Washington created” problems that are bedeviling Americans, as if they are outside his control. Even if that’s true, it’s a slippery message platform.

Michelle Obama sent me, and a few million others, an email today asking to sign greetings to her husband for his 50th birthday. Great. I did it, and then was bounced to a message asking for a campaign contribution. The Dow is down 3% today, nearly in free fall. It’s not a good day to ask me for money.

There seems to be a collective shrug when it comes to developing solutions for our problems. Some say “cut up the credit cards.” Others say stimulate the economy. What we get is a hybrid approach that satisfies neither proposition.

What’s my personal prescription for all this doom and gloom? Think of Syria. Think of Libya. Then laugh, loud and often. It could be worse. And it seems like it will be. We could be heading for another recession, before we recover from the last one.

Wow. What a Terrible Deal.

Terrible DealThe New York Times should be Barack Obama’s friend. Instead we wake today to something akin to an attack on the Republic, with infuriated columnists and ediorialists proclaiming doom. All they can hope is that whatever he agreed to can be undone in the future. The markets should be pleased that we avoided disaster but the Dow is tanking on more bad economic news. Obama’s re-election campaign sends a YouTube video from the President that makes me feel worse – here’s a guy who barely believes his own words. The spin is half-hearted, empty.

If you don’t drown in the sea, you can claim victory. The question is – what were you doing out in the storm to begin with? The Demos lose because they caved to extortion. The Republicans lose because they now own a terrible economy. We all lose because this will drag on through the election. A sampling from The New York Times:

White House officials dryly joke that the president’s “sweet spot” is his ability to alienate his base and infuriate his foes while falling short of his goals. Maureen Dowd, Not O.K. at the O.K. Corral. The New York Times

Rock Em Sock Em PR Battle Down to Wire

Rock em sock em robotsHarry Reid says the Republicans are trying to put lipstick on the the filibuster. Pow! Boehner says only Obama can get us out of this  financial cul de sac. Bam! Chris Coons, the new Democratic senator from Delaware, noted that there would be a “bouquet of blame” for everyone if Congress and the White House allowed the country to “Titanic” (thanks Maureen Dowd). Zingo!

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he is now “now fully engaged” in the debt talks (he wasn’t before?). Thud! Someone (who?) is looking for a skylight to the debt ceiling talks – good luck with that.

Don’t these people believe in a summer vacation? I feel for Boehner. A coach of a football team has a clear and unyielding objective. His players line up, follow him, and go out to defeat the opponent. Boehner has half his team running in the other direction, while the Democrats are scattered all over the field trying to tackle them. This should be an interesting Sunday.

Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give…

When an irresistible force such as you
Meets and old immovable object like me
You can bet as sure as you live
Something’s gotta give, something’s gotta give,
Something’s gotta give.

- song by Johnny Mercer, sung impeccably by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, John Boehner, Barack Obama, and many others

Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot via Flickr

PR Cliche Train Wreck Ahead

PR Train WreckThe last train is leaving the station, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Train wreck ahead. Let’s not reinvent the wheel at the 11th hour and wave the white flag, says Sarah Palin. Republicans have been bending over backwards. Harry Reid’s door is always open. Our back is against the wall because there is no tomorrow. It’s do or die. Beohner has stuck his neck out a mile – what more can he do? He tried his level best. Compromise is a dirty word to the Republicans, says Obama. Nobody wants to say yes in this town, says Boehner. This is a poker game we all can lose, says Obama.

I don’t know about you but when push comes to shove and it’s time to man up, I’d rather have a discussion that involves adult dialogue rather than goo goo gaa sound bites because mama didn’t raise no fool and I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.


PR Doesn’t Kill the Sun – Yet

SunriseThe sun rose this morning. Perhaps the sun didn’t rise on John Boehner but there in the east, through the clouds, that big ball of heat and life seemed to come up like it did yesterday, and will tomorrow. Armageddon has not befallen us, yet.

The news is gloomy. Short term credit markets are tanking. The GDP is sluggish. A few days ago I sold my stocks. Politicians, economists, market strategists and news commentators may focus on numbers and economic indicators, I’m operating on feelings. And the feeling I get is disaster ahead. Posturing, threatening, haranguing, arm-twisting, ultimatums – is this any way to run a country.

It is should be no shock that politicians engage in politics, or that politics is essentially a high-stakes PR game with the singular objective of acquiring and maintaining power.

The Republicans, initially the protagonists and aggressors, today are on the defensive, flopping around like a fish on a boat deck. Obama, left at the altar twice as he put it, came before the cameras for six minutes this morning and sounded supremely Presidential and optimistic. Of course he has the luxury of diminutive Harry Reid, the Demo Senate leader, wielding the big stick.

The Republicans are in a awful position. They can’t find the votes to pass a bill that will surely go nowhere, and they are split into factions that seem intent on consuming each other. The Demos are in no better shape but their grousing has not had the opportunity to be fully vented. Obama is intent on getting a deal – but he can’t do it at the expense of Republican pride.

This makes for an interesting weekend of posturing and threatening, when such tactics are losing their ability to impress. Politics is drama. We are heading for Act III of this tragedy.