The book on why the Democrats don’t tell their story better

Ira Glass gave an interview to the New York Times Book Review (Sunday, August 19, 2012; page 6). (All links have been added here.)

Ira Glass of This American Life

Ira Glass of This American Life

What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?

Could someone please write a book explaining why the Democratic party and its allies are so much less effective at crafting a message and having a vision than their Republican counterparts?  What a bunch of incompetents the Dems seem lie.  Most people don’t even understand the health care policy they passed, much less like it.  Ditto the financial reform.  Or the stimulus.  Some of the basic tasks of politics — like choosing  and crafting a message — they just seem uninterested in it.

I remember reading in The Times that as soon as Obama won, the Republicans were scheming about how they’d turn it around for the next election, and came up with the plan that won them the House, and wondered, did the House Dems even hold a similar meeting?  Kurt EichenwaldMark BowdenJohn Heilemann and Mark Halperin!  I’ll pre-order today.

Deucedly good question.  When I got to Washington in a permanent position, the question among conservatives was why couldn’t they tell a good story?  In 30 years, the tables have turned.  Who will tell the Democrat’s story cogently, as good as it really is?


5 Responses to The book on why the Democrats don’t tell their story better

  1. Jim says:

    I have wondered the same thing, Ed. With many decades of experience in journalism, I’d have to say the GOP control of over messaging has to do with two things. One is the news media itself. The myth of a left-wing press is absurd. At best — and this is, I think, being generous — it’s a wash. At worst, whatever the press makes of social issues like gay rights and abortion (where they do skew more left), on money matters, they are kowtowing to their corporate masters.

    But media is just one piece of the puzzle. The other is stupidity. When I first started in the news business — a real rookie — I was told to write to a seventh grade level. When I left the business, guess what we were supposed to be telling the cubs? Second grade. People are willfully dumb. They distrust erudition, fact-based and non-emotional approaches to issues. The big knock on NPR over the years was rarely that it was “liberal”. Only a few country rubes and ridgerunners actually thought that. It was boring. Oh dear Lord, how I have come to loathe that word. Boring. What did Pop say when I was a kid? “Only boring people get bored” and “As long as there is a book…ANY book…boredom is not an option”. But America doesn’t roll that way any longer, Ed.

    Today, we nominated candidates for the highest office in the land who care about “ejumacation” and candidates for the second highest office who can’t think of a single book, magazine or Supreme Court case. You know. The ones who say you can’t trust all those “facty” types.

    It’s not the insane who are running the asylum. It’s the dumbs.



  2. Ed Darrell says:

    David, whenever anyone claims they are quoting from the Congressional Budget Office, check your fingers after you shake their hand, and check CBO to see what CBO actually said:

    CBO’s Estimates of ARRA’s Impact on Employment and Economic Output

    Looking at recorded spending to date along with estimates of the other effects of ARRA on spending and revenues, CBO has estimated the law’s impact on employment and economic output using evidence about the effects of previous similar policies and drawing on various mathematical models that represent the workings of the economy. Because those sources indicate a wide range of possible effects, CBO provides high and low estimates of the likely impact, aiming to encompass most economists’ views about the effects of different policies. On that basis, CBO estimates that ARRA’s policies had the following effects in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2010:

    They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product by between 1.1 percent and 3.5 percent,
    Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points,
    Increased the number of people employed by between 1.3 million and 3.5 million, and
    Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 1.8 million to 5.0 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers).

    You assume that the sole goal of the law was to create make-work jobs. That’s not correct. The goal was to save the American economy, and save a lot of jobs that would have been lost otherwise.

    Since you start from an erroneous assumption, your math is wrong. You’ve used the wrong equation.

    Here, let me explain:

    GDP for the U.S. is $15.09 Trillion.

    1.1% of that = $0.16599 Trillion, or $165,990,000,000.
    3.5% = $528,150,000,000.

    So, in addition to creating millions of jobs, the stimulus added to our economy between $166 billion and $528 billion, in three months of 2010 alone. We’re getting back much more than we spent, in stimulated growth. In three months we may have gotten back $500 billion (that’s a half trillion), on an investment of $800 billion — and the paybacks continue, quarter after quarter.

    Got an economics text to figure out how many jobs come out of a 1% increase in GDP? And that is in addition to the direct jobs your source used for calculating.

    That stimulus saved the nation, it probably saved your job. Don’t deny it.

    You know that old saw about how figures don’t lie, but liars sometimes figure? You got caught by one of those liars figuring.


  3. David xavier says:

    CBO: Jobs Created and Saved By Stimulus Cost At Minimum An Average of $228,055 Each :

    Actual jobs created were between 3.5 million and 1.4 million. Source :CBO


  4. Ed Darrell says:

    What evidence have you that Affordable Health Care isn’t working? The general consensus among economists is that the stimulus saved our nation. Among other things, it ended the hemorrhaging of 500,000 lost jobs each month — it’s created 4 million jobs, four times the jobs created in George Bush’s eight years. That’s of no value to you? What evidence have you that it didn’t work?


  5. David xavier says:

    yes Obamacare is one of the great remakings of America the democrats seem to want to forget. Affordable health care act—please! Wasted opportunity of the stimulus – heck that could have paid for the great infrastructure renewal of America( wheres Hoover dam , empire state building , ) ….it just funded entitlements , bonuses and bailed out corporate america…what of financial reforms? Jon Corzine anybody —Obama loyalist and one big thief…. meanwhile 23 million unemployed. Seriously , good intentions just dont cut it, you want to make a more civil society then look to the past , look to Europe tetthering on bankruptcy. such ideas have consequences ….our forefathers had wisdom too, that progressives with there arrogence seek to redefine and expand government as all things to all people ( with some people being more equal than others) and think the ideas of our past giants merely quaint , and their written words something you can liquid paper out , and our traditions they bequethed to us something to be discarded as unfashionable – is a testimony to blind belief in abstract theorys which trump empirical and commonsense….end rant. Except to say , people realise that all the ‘remaking’ has consequences and they havent been asked about it and they dont want it.


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