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Why Voters Won't Buy Blaming Bush

July 11, 2010

During the 1980 Presidential campaign, then President Jimmy Carter couldn’t wait to run against upstart Republican Presidential nominee Ronald Reagan.

The Carter campaign thought the former California Governor would be the easiest of all Republicans to run against, and they carved out a campaign message that would focus on Reagan not being up to the job of being President.

The Carter campaign’s secondary message was that Reagan was  ‘dangerous’, too “risky” to put into the Oval Office, and that he couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing with the nuclear arsenal in the case of a crisis.

As it turned out, that campaign strategy was a flop, and Carter went on to lose all but six states in a stunning defeat to Reagan, and of course, the rest is history.

Reagan had long been stereotyped as someone who didn’t have the intelligence to be President, despite the fact that he served two terms as Governor of California.  The problem with the Carter strategy is the people never bought into it, it didn’t ring true.

We are now seeing something similar being echoed by President Barrack Obama, only this time, the target is former President George W. Bush, and not Reagan.

The Democrat strategy for the 2010 mid-term elections is to blame the current economic problems on former President Bush, and ignore the fact that President Obama, and his super majorities in Congress, have failed to bring about the change, as promised.

President Obama fails to realize that voters, in the long run, will not blame former President Bush for today’s troubles. They may recognize that our troubles started with the former President, but they still hold President Obama accountable for getting us out of the mess. Never mind what the polls say now, come November, they'l look to President Obama for answers.

This past week, while campaigning in Las Vegas, and Missouri, President Obama, without mentioning President Bush by name, blamed our problems on misguided policies of the past decade – i.e. – the eight years President Bush.

This kind of rhetoric diminishes President Obama, and makes his policies look weak and ineffective.  The country does not need to be reminded when the economic chaos started, they want to be told when and how things are going to improve, and when we can expect to see some results.

This is precisely what the President needs to address. The best way for him to hold congressional loses this Fall is to simply tell the people, and repeat it again and again, sincerely and succinctly, that his policies will work, and the country needs to stay the course.

Voters can read a poker face, and what they see is uncertainly from President Obama, about his own policies, and  blaming Bush – who left office 18 months ago - is not  going to be a winning hand for the President.

The people are inherently fair, and contrary to what most political consultants think, voters can sort through recent history for themselves.  Voters don't need to see immediate results either, but they want their leaders to believe in the policies they’ve enacted.

Voters made up their own mind on whether Ronald Reagan was up to the job to be President, and they will do the same regarding President Obama’s economic policies, too.

They'll will be loses for the Democrats this Fall, but the surest way to multiple those losses, is for President Obama to focus the blame on Bush, and fail to take responsibility for fixing the situation.