Tag Archives: President Clinton

White House Goes Into Bunker Mode

Today begins the last full week before the midterm elections…

Daily Beast

As the GOP prepares for landslide in November (The Daily Beast’s Election Oracle forecasts a 50/50 split in the Senate and a substantial Republican lead in the House), the Obama team seems powerless to stop it. Howard Kurtz on its fascinating belief that the bully pulpit has been downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention.

Imagine if the Chilean mining disaster had happened here in the States. President Obama would have been hammered for 69 days for failing to rescue the men, right up to the moment the first one was pulled to safety.

That’s the sensibility inside the White House these days: If there’s a bad story out there, even one far removed from the presidential orbit, the Obama crowd will own it. Every administration feels besieged at times, pilloried by the press, misunderstood by the public. But conversations with White House officials suggest a team that feels almost snakebit during a midterm election that is likely to produce substantial losses.

“There’s an alternative story here that we’re trying to tell,” says Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director. “But there’s an element of spitting in the ocean.”

During the long election slog, “a narrative takes hold, and trying to beat those narratives can be challenging and frustrating,” he says. “Some of the news coverage is focused on more of the negatives and few of the positives. But I don’t think that’s surprising, given the environment.”

Obama certainly bears responsibility for a wide range of missteps and a perverse talent for turning winning (on the Hill) into losing (in the court of public opinion). But what’s fascinating is the belief that the bully pulpit has been permanently downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention in a cacophonous world.

It sounds absurd: Obama can instantly command attention any time he wants. He can pop onto the Today show, plop himself on Jay Leno’s couch, get himself on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, chat up the kids on MTV, diagram basketball brackets on ESPN. This week he’ll drop by The Daily Show and match wits with Jon Stewart. Everything he says is news.   Continue reading…

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