Since Republican Scott Brown won the special election Jan 19 to fill Massachusetts' U.S. Senate seat vacated after the death of Ted Kennedy, President Barack Obama and high-level White House staffers David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs have been on the media circuit in damage control mode.
But according to "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, efforts to spin this in a positive way are futile. Wallace appeared on the Fox Business Network's Jan. 21 "Imus in the Morning" program to explain their efforts to alter the news coverage to a favorable tone in the wake of this news is not the proper course of action.
"I think it means a big deal and I have to laugh, you know, somebody was saying yesterday, there's some events that are just un-spinable," Wallace said. "They're just too big, too dramatic, too obvious - you can't spin them and yet the White House clearly is trying to spin this."
Wallace referred specifically to an interview Obama conducted with ABC's "Good Morning America" co-host George Stephanopoulos. Wallace called out Obama for not realizing it's his big government/high taxation policies advocated by his administration that cost the Democratic Party this election and not an anti-incumbent "anger."
"The President was on with George Stephanopoulos yesterday and he said the same anger that swept me into office is the anger that swept Scott Brown into office," Wallace explained. "Well, no, that's not quite true because a lot of the anger now, Mr. President, is about your policies and, you know, they're trying to act like it's some kind of inchoate unreasoning anger out there. But in fact, I think - and in fact, Scott Brown campaigned on a lot of specific issues - big government, big taxes, deals that are made in private, charging this guy, Abdul-Mutallab, as a criminal defendant instead of an enemy combatant, so a lot of anger now is, you know, people see Barack Obama as part of the problem, no longer as part of the solution. So, I don't think the anger and frustration argument is going to cut it."
"Imus in the Morning" host Don Imus pointed to the 411 speeches, comments and remarks reported by CBS News on Jan. 20 including 52 addresses or statements specifically on his health care proposals during his first year in office and scoffed at Obama's notion it was a failure to communicate as a reason Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. Wallace agreed and noted how eager Obama was to cast himself in the limelight.
"Well, you're absolutely right," Wallace replied. "I mean, the idea that this was a failure of communication by the man that the White House believes is the greatest communicator since Ronald Reagan and when in doubt, they give a speech, and now they're saying well - and the President did say in his interview yesterday with Stephanopoulos, I think we were so busy doing things that we didn't persuade and explain to people how this relates to their lives. No, people completely understand how this relates to their lives and at this point they don't like it. You know, they don't like all the big government."
Wallace argued it's not the communication of the message, but the message itself and where it was focused. He explained these programs advocated by Obama aren't what are needed in the midst of an economic downturn.
"They don't like all the big taxes and they don't like some of the programs and they particularly don't like the fact that the White House and the Democrats in Congress seem to have taken their eye off the ball of their number one concern - the economy, their personal well-being - to go on to these other subjects and - but on the other hand you - the White House, you can't expect them to say, well, you know, they feel like we wasted the entire first year of our agenda," Wallace said. "So, I mean, the key isn't really so much what they say, it's what they do."
With news from the Labor Department Jan. 21 indicating further job losses, Wallace advised the President to focus on jobs and not the seemingly superfluous issues.
"And the key will be, we'll see next week with the State of the Union, next Wednesday, are they going to really pivot and focus on, you know, as Bill Clinton used to say, like a laser beam on jobs, on - and it's also going to be interesting to see Barack Obama cast himself as if they now say as a populist and that he's representing the little guy against big interest because I'm not sure that a lot of Americans see him as one of them."