Former Obama Car Czar: 'It's Very Hard' to Explain President's Record 'In a Positive' Way

With unemployment, gas prices, and the budget deficit stubbornly high, President Obama's fans in the media are having a hard time explaining to people why the current White House resident's job performance is worthy of the reelection they're all working for.

Take former Obama car czar turned Morning Joe economic analyst Steve Rattner who said on MSNBC Tuesday, "I think in a quiet room I could convince you his record is good, but out in the sound bite world of the campaign, it's very hard to explain that record in a positive, clear, persuasive way" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

JOHN HEILEMANN, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: It’s a very tricky balance that they have to strike for sure, and that, his likability, the personal attributes he - apart from who can fix the economy - on every personal attribute from strength, shares your values, likable, he's ahead of Romney on all those things, and they are precious assets.

And so the question is, you know, if you run, if you are really just running a 95 percent negative campaign from now until Election Day, what does that do to the eight percent of voters in nine states who are going to decide the election who aren't pro-Obama and who aren’t pro-Romney and are just trying to figure it out? What does that do to their perception of this guy many of whom, many of those voters who voted for him believing he was not like every other politician. What does that do? I don't know the answer.

As NewsBusters reported Monday, Heilemann has a cover-story at New York magazine hyping the Obama campaign's mission in the next five-plus months is to scare the public into thinking things would be far worse if Mitt Romney were elected.

As Rattner unintentionally exposed, that's really their only option:

STEVE RATTNER, FORMER OBAMA CAR CZAR: But how do you run a hope and change campaign when you’ve been in office for three years? You should be running on your record. I think in, I think in a quiet room I could convince you his record is good, but out in the sound bite world of the campaign, it's very hard to explain that record in a positive, clear, persuasive way.

So Obama's former car czar, who's now an economic analyst for Morning Joe, thinks "in a quite room" he could convince people Obama's record is good, but that it's going to be tough to do in a campaign.

Then exactly how good can that record be?

HEILEMANN: Beyond we saved the auto industry and we killed Osama bin Laden, the rest of it’s pretty complicated.

RATTNER: That’s the point.

So with such a "complicated" record, how do you campaign for reelection?

HEILEMANN: And they’ve done a $25 million ad buy that’s on his record, and I, my guess is that’s the last, those are the last dollars we’re going to see spent promoting President Obama’s record. We’re going to see almost every other dollar spent attacking Romney as an unacceptable, disqualified alternative.


Expectations are that Obama and his Super PAC will end up spending upwards of $1 billion this year. If Heilemann's correct - and given the amount of access he was allotted for that piece he just published, it's likely he is! - only 2.5 percent of that is going to be spent promoting the President's record.

Imagine for a moment that president was a Republican. Can you envision the field day media members across the fruited plain would be having tearing him or her to shreds for avoiding his or her record? It would be an hourly occurrence.

But because the current White House resident without a record to run on is a beloved Democrat, his media minions are not only not attacking his campaign strategy, they're aiding and abetting it.

And it's only May.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.