Could it be that empty rhetoric and a functioning pair of teleprompters just won't be enough this time around for Obama?
Doesn't look like it right now, does it?
The White House’s theme for this week — and the week before, and the one before that — has been all about “winning the future.” President Obama has mentioned his new favorite catch phrase so often in the last month that you’d think he was being paid for each reference.Cross-posted.
In fact, when Obama now makes a speech, he’ll do so in front of a small backdrop with the words “winning the future” streaming across it. Talk about message discipline:
At Penn State, on Feb. 3: “These are places where the future will be won.”
In Cleveland, on Tuesday: “Winning the future involves out-educating, out-innovating, out-building, out-hustling everybody else.”
At a Baltimore middle school, on Valentine’s Day: “Over the last few weeks, I’ve traveled the country, talking about what we need to do to win the future.”
By our count, Obama has sung his battle cry — or some variation of it — nearly 40 times since his State of the Union address on Jan. 25. (By the way, in that speech, he mentioned in 10 times.)
But is the message getting through? We decided to ask the prominent linguist and neuroscience expert George Lakoff, a liberal by any measure, whether he thought the ad nauseam repetition has proven effective in a month’s time. His diagnosis: Not so much.
The problem, Lakoff determined, is that while a repetition of ideas can work — like the notion of “change” in the 2008 campaign to tap into voters’ emotional desires, or Republicans’ consistent message on less intrusive government — simply saying a slogan over and over is less tangible, and therefore more difficult for voters to recognize as meaningful.
“Nobody cares about winning the future,” he said. “It doesn’t mean much to anybody.”