Marketing/political propaganda axiom: in attempting to make a product or political figure less well thought of, you seek to increase its/his negatives and decrease its/his positives.
Obama was and is conceived by most Americans as new, hopeful, fresh, etc. In a number of earlier posts here, I’ve been detailing how the right has been busy, over the last two months, attempting to counter these Obama positives through the suggestion that he’s not new or special at all – that he’s just a continuation of Bush policies and ideas. (As I noted earlier, there was another complimentary goal in here too…to help re-establish positive notions of the Bush administration, AKA “The Bush Legacy Project”, a PR strategy being run out of the Bush WH in its last half year or so).
Yesterday, at CPAC, Gingrich threw a bit more weight behind all of this with a strong attack against, wait for it, the “Bush/Obama regime”. Yes. Who knew?
What is going on here is pretty simple. At CPAC, the Bush administration is being utterly savaged. The meme being pushed is that Bush betrayed conservative/Reagan principles in numerous spheres but most importantly, fiscally. He spent too many tax dollars. Politically, or in terms of propaganda, this is seen now as a necessary idea to forward because it excuses ‘conservativism’ and the party for the last eight years and for the financial situation we are in…”We didn’t do it, a pretender did it, so there’s no reason to think we can’t run government properly”. This is almost total bullshit top to bottom (Reagan initiated huge tax hikes, for example) but propaganda and truth have no necessary relationship.
So, this earlier identification of Obama with Bush was mainly designed to make Bush policies look good – “Obama has to follow Bush policies because they were wonderful policies after all”. But now (there’s a truck-load of irony in all of this) the identification is being made to make Obama look as bad as Bush. And this ‘argument’ is being made by conservatives to conservatives.
Update: Steve Benen writes on this too (and it’s typically bright as hell):
I understand the point [Gingrich is] trying to get across. Bush increased spending, Obama is increasing spending. Bush’s policies were a disaster for the economy, so Obama’s policies….
It has a certain child-like appeal, just so long as no one thinks about it too much.
But the reason this isn’t a compelling argument — aside from the fact that it has no relation to reality — is that Gingrich’s point undermines the other Republican talking points. The principal complaint from the right about Obama’s spending plans is that they’re “radical.” The spending is “unprecedented.” The agenda represents “socialism.”
And despite all of this, Gingrich nevertheless argues that Obama’s spending “is more of the Bush-Obama continuity and represents more of the same instead of ‘change you can believe in.'”
This just doesn’t add up. Either Obama’s approach is a radical change or it’s Bush’s agenda warmed over. It can’t be both. read Benen here