The Democrats' "localized approach to the midterms is understandable, defensible—and wrong. The best way to keep control would have been a national message targeted at independents," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter complained yesterday in an article at the magazine's website.
And what exactly should the Democrats have touted in a national campaign strategy for the midterms? Why, shovel-ready infrastructure jobs, of course:
Independents tend to care a lot about the deficit and to be moderate on social issues. A national campaign targeted to them would have harshly blamed Republicans for turning Bill Clinton’s surplus into a deficit and represented the Democrats as the party of small business and innovation. With eight tax cuts for small business passed and signed since Obama took office, this would have had the benefit of actually being true. And nobody seems to remember that by voting unanimously against the Recovery Act, Republicans were also voting against $300 billion in tax cuts for the middle class.
Democrats could have easily run a “We’re for the Many, They’re for the Few” campaign. Infrastructure (though calling it “infrastructure” is politically useless) could have been the centerpiece. A “Rebuilding America vs. Tax Cuts for the Wealthy” theme might have worked nicely with all voters.
Apparently Alter didn't get the memo. The president himself has admitted there really haven't been any shovel-ready jobs to speak of provided by the stimulus package (emphases mine):
With unemployment hovering near 10 percent nearly two years after President Obama signed his economic stimulus package, Mr. Obama is acknowledging that, despite his campaign promises, "there's no such thing as shovel-ready projects."
The president gave that remark in an hour-long interview with the New York Times.
Mr. Obama also told the Times that he should have "let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts" in the stimulus, rather than including them himself, so the package would have seemed more like a compromise. The stimulus package, which the Congressional Budget Office said this year will cost $862 billion, included $236 billion in tax cuts. Nevertheless, the president said in the interview that he comes across as "the same old tax-and-spend Democrat."
When the president campaigned for the stimulus package at the start of his presidency, he and others in his administration repeatedly insisted the investments would go to "shovel-ready" projects -- projects that would put people to work right away. As recently as August, however, local governments were still facing delays spending the money they were allocated from the stimulus, CBS News Correspondent Nancy Cordes reported.
Alter also risibly complained that President Obama is allergic "to soundbites, talking points, framing devices, and the other artificial but inevitable building blocks of modern politics will likely cost him the House."
What, one has to wonder, does Alter think the White House's grousing about allegedly secret foreign campaign money is?