Wednesday, September 09, 2009
President Obama made his "controversial" speech to students today on the first day of school, and as expected it was simply about working hard and persisting in getting a good education despite any personal problems students may have. The reaction after the speech has been positive, and no trace of a socialist agenda can be found.
So it turns out that this didn't happen.
The three strategic errors made by the GOP are as follows:
First, opposing something done by the President for the sake of opposition alone. Before the school speech was derided as being a socialist agenda the GOP was hard at work opposing health care reform, which for them dwarfs a speech at a school by an order of magnitude. Thanks to opposition to the speech over the past seven days or so, their focus has been divided at a crucial period of time for them.
Second, they neglected to check what other presidents have said in the past to students. It turns out that Ronald Reagan gave a speech to children that veered well off the subject of education, referencing items such as job creation and tax cuts. The first George Bush also gave two speeches to students.
Third, they opposed the speech before the text was even released. Speeches are almost always modified before release according to the news of the day or other recent developments, so they made it easy for Obama to tailor the speech in order to make it both controversy free, as well as as different from what the GOP had been claiming it would be as possible. Showing one's hand that early when one's opponent is given days and days to watch and draft a counter-strategy is always a bad idea.
Now that the speech is over, all of a sudden Obama is about to give another one on health care the next day and it's time for the GOP to switch gears again now that this tactic has turned out to be a dud.