Part 1: Duh!
Here’s your opportunity to vent about the Massachusetts Senate race. It should have been an easy progressive win to replace Ted Kennedy, on the eve of passing health care reform – the cause he worked so hard for. But the anti-progresssive won, and, sadly, he seems unlikely to support climate action, as he once did (see “MA Senate candidate Scott Brown pushes anti-science nonsense, flip-flops on clean energy action“).
I was talking to a highly respected newsman last week, and he just lit into what he saw as the dreadful messaging of progressives on the climate and clean energy jobs bill. “Massive botch” was his phrase. In particular, he was baffled about why we don’t talk about the clean air benefits of reducing pollution or focus on the benefits for real people (and yes, I know we do the latter I bit).
Readers know that I am baffled about much of progressive messaging (see “Can Obama deliver health and energy security with a half (assed) message?“).
Those in power right now do messaging poorly — and that certainly extends to most of team Obama. The President is an exception, but since the administration as a whole lacks a compelling and consistent narrative, his great speeches mostly become unechoed one-0ffs without an enduring power to move the nation. That is doubly the case because many progressives out of government seem hell-bent on beating up the President and progressives in Congress for trying to achieve the achievable. Ironically, in so doing, they actually shrink the political space of what can be done.
I’m starting on a multipart messaging series that will focus on the bipartisan clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill. But first I wanted to stir things up with extended excerpts from two recent pieces that go to the heart of these two great failings. Let’s start with one of the best-known progressive columnists, EJ Dionne of the Washington Post, from his Monday column, “Mass. Senate race’s lesson for Obama,” on the flawed messaging of the insiders: