There was something about this Susan Estrich column on the death throes of the health care rationing bill that bugged me – and no, it wasn’t its basic point:
So what went wrong? Every Democrat I talk to has a different answer or, rather, a different person to blame. It was Nancy Pelosi’s fault or Harry Reid’s or Rahm Emanuel’s. Should have made a bigger show of reaching out to Republicans; shouldn’t have cut those deals behind closed doors. It is, I am told every day, a communications problem.
Years ago, when I was working in politics, I had a meeting with our pollsters that I’ll never forget. After a particularly detailed (and negative) survey, one of the guys who had been polling for years leaned over to me and said, “We have a very big problem. People just don’t like our candidate.” Not an ideological problem. Not a problem with his experience or positions. They just didn’t like him.
Of course, you can’t tell your candidate that the people don’t like him. So we looked at each other and shook our heads. There is only one way to translate that result. Candidate, we said to him, the people don’t know you.
The White House is trying to treat the problem with its health care proposal as a communications problem.
I happen to agree with the basic point, you see. At any rate, I finally figured out what was bugging me about it, and it was this sentence:
Barack Obama is a great communicator.
As somebody once said of Pompey the Great: ‘Great’ as compared to whom?
Technical skill at reading a speech I’ll grant – although if I hear one more version of the Why I Am The Synthesis of The Two Sides To Whatever Problem Is Bugging You People This Week I may start a tequila IV drip – but he doesn’t particularly impress when it comes to off-the-cuff remarks, unscripted conversations, or just plain personal moments. I’m not even sure if he’s had any of the latter where we could see him. For that matter, the President has consciously adopted a policy of simply not being available to communicate, even with the White House press corps. Declarations and pronouncements, sure. Two-way interaction? Not so much.
If I were still of the President’s party, this would trouble me. Since I’m not, I’m just going to not put a copy on this directly on RedState and hope that’s enough to keep the Other Side from really noticing the problem.