Occasionally a politician takes a walk outside the walled city of Fantasyland, sees reality, and decides to tell at least a portion of the truth. It’s a rare event, and, in order to witness it, you have to be quick.
Sunday, Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland told CBS, “We’re not better off under Obama…” It took all of one day for O’Malley to get back on the reservation. He told CNN on Monday: “We are clearly better off as a country now because we’re creating jobs rather than losing them.” So clearly better off in fact, that he had no idea about it just the day before.
I really wish I had been there for the phone call that changed his mind. It obviously wasn’t a re-assessment of reality that did it. America isn’t better off under Obama. Period. O’Malley originally, and correctly, stated this. But his original point was that America wouldn’t have been better off under anyone because Bush’s presidency has had, in his mind, a longterm deleterious effect on America’s economy. Oh.
Presidential responsibility cuts both ways, though. You can’t say, “It takes eight or so years for an administration’s policies to really have their full effect, so we’re suffering from my predecessor’s mistakes” and then say, “Everything good that’s happening now is because of my policies.” And that’s just what this administration has been doing.
You can’t have it both ways. If Bush’s policies created the current economic downturn, then you can’t say the country is “better off under Obama,” because even if we were better off, it would be Bush’s fault, not Obama’s. O’Malley must have recognized this at some point and tried to develop a spin on the truth. He may even have been proud of its cleverness: “Let’s see…we can’t say we’re actually better off because people know they’re not… Oh, but we could say we’re not better off because of Bush. There’s no way to prove that one way or the other, so that should work to divert the attention off of the current administration. Brilliant!” Then he delivers the line, and probably realized as it was exiting his mouth how stupid it sounded: “We’re not better off under Obama, but that’s not the point of this election. The point of this election is to assess George W. Bush’s presidency.” Huh? Even CBS’s Schieffer knew how to respond to that one: “George Bush isn’t on the ballots.” Exactly.
What did the phone call sound like that turned Sunday spin into Monday mendacity? I don’t know. I reckon it went something like this:
ObamaTeam: “Hey, O’Malley! It doesn’t sound so good to say we’re not better off. So say we are.”
O’Malley: “Yeah, but that isn’t true.”
OM: “Well, people know it isn’t true… I mean you’re talking to people about something they can easily verify. And they know they’re not better off. It’s no secret things are pretty bad right now as far as unemployment, food and gas prices, inflation, you know… things people have to deal with every day.”
OM: “So you want me to just tell people things are going well, even though it’s patently obvious they are not?”
OT: “Now you’re getting it…”
When are people going to get it? If you were sitting jobless in front of a scant meal with no gas in your vehicle and a few worthless scraps of Federal Reserve notes in your pocket, why would it matter if someone said you were better off? You’d think to yourself, I’m not better off. And then a voice would waft in dreamily from the great void: Oh no… but you are. You aaaarrrrre. And pixie dust would float down and the whole scene would transform before your eyes: a cheap feast, mortgage paid, full tank of gas on someone else’s dime, an easy well-paying job without any taxes…
If Obama supporters have been conditioned this effectively, I think Republicans should take advantage of it: Just start saying the opposite of what they know to be true. That way the reverse filter on the average Democrat’s brain will start to inadvertently hear the truth: Republican… saying… some… thing. Reversing to access truth… AAHH! Malfunction. Malfunction. Reality corroding fantasy processor… must drink more… kool-aid.