Major Garrett: Town hall a sign of ‘anxiety’ at Obama reelection HQ

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Wednesday’s so-called Twitter town hall meeting conducted by President Barack Obama was certainly unprecedented. But was it a sign of trouble at Obama reelection headquarters in Chicago?

Over the past few weeks, Democrats in Washington, D.C., have been driving the message of “shared sacrifice” as it pertains to the federal government’s fiscal policy going forward in dealing with record deficit and debt issues. But in an appearance on Wednesday’s “The Laura Ingraham Show,” National Journal congressional correspondent Major Garrett explained there were some unresolved questions, especially when it comes to the question of what Americans are getting for their sacrifice.

“[W]hen you talk about sacrifice, what I’m often curious about is how most American people regard the service they receive from their government,” Garrett said. “Because–if you’re going to ask for sacrifice, perhaps those who are sacrificing, and of course every American taxpayer does it at one level or another, they might also inquire about the level of service they receive from the government and I would think any conversation right now pitting sacrifice against service, the government would come out on the lesser end of that conversation. That’s just a hunch.”

In the end, Garrett said the Obama administration needed to connect with the public on the economy. He explained as the economy continues to struggle, the president’s ability to communicate on that will become more and more difficult.

“[I] would say the jobs report that came out a month ago that showed an enormously shallow capability of this economy to create jobs brought about by gas prices, brought about instability in Europe, brought about by the continuing sense of unease among major sectors of the U.S. economy – what would come next was the pivot point for this administration because it undercut everything the president had been saying for a year about this recovery,” Garrett said.

“Last year we had ‘Recovery Summer.’ Well you can’t have two recovery summers in a row — I think the great issue when it comes to the economy is that do most Americans even listen to the president anymore,” he said.

But as it stands right now, Obama’s failing to connect and Garrett cited his so-called Twitter town hall meeting as an attempt almost in desperation to resurrect the messaging success the president in his prior election.

“[I]f people aren’t listening to you on that core message, it doesn’t matter what you say anymore,” he said. “And I think the president is dangerously close to losing that connection with the American people on what he knows about the economy and what he can predict about the economy. And presidents who can’t lead on the economy tend to be replaced. And I think today’s Twitter town hall is evidence of a low-level degree of anxiety bordering on panic within the Chicago reelection headquarters because back in 2008 and 2007, I watched this develop on the ground. There was a sense that ‘oh social media created the energy.’ No, social media harnessed and built it out. It made it exponential. But it didn’t create it in the first place and you see a lot of sort of feverish attempts to engage social media as if that’s the means by which to create energy. No — you create energy by what you do, what you say and how you lead, especially if you’re seeking reelection and it’s at that level that I think the energy pool is much more shallow for President Obama than the campaign would like it to be.”