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Saturday, April 2, 2011

In Politics, Less is Sometimes More

That's the basic theme of two articles in THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

In ' Billions Now, Trillions Later ', Matthew Continetti urges House Conservatives not to insist on every single budget cut and risk a government shutdown, but settle for making an important, not merely symbolic start at cutting the deficit :
Conservatives are on the verge of victory—if only they can take yes for an answer. The situation on Capitol Hill is fluid, but it appears House Republicans will soon be presented with a choice: accept dramatic cuts in spending for the rest of fiscal year 2011 that, while less than the amount passed by the House in February, are about the same as Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan originally proposed—or risk a government shutdown by holding out for the maximum amount of reductions, as well as other items on the conservative wish list.

The right decision: Accept a deal to cut tens of billions of dollars in the remaining months of fiscal year 2011. This would not only avoid a shutdown. It would also begin to reduce the size of government, and that would be a real victory. Congress would pass the largest reductions in nondefense discretionary spending in decades. Democrats would implicitly concede that the federal government is spending too much money. And the decks would be cleared for Ryan, who plans to deliver his fiscal year 2012 Republican budget this week.
And in ' Commander-In-Hiding : Less Obama goes a long way ', Fred Barnes points out the positive impact of presidential under-exposure  :

President Obama isn’t quite in hibernation. But he’s saying less, proposing less, appearing in public less, doing less, interacting with Congress less, plugging his health care plan less, and singling out a Republican demon less. It took two years and the harsh rejection of a midterm election for Obama to figure out what shouldn’t have been a secret: The magic of the presidency declines with overindulgence.

Now several days go by at the White House with the president listed as having “no public schedule.” Or his calendar will feature only a string of Oval Office meetings described as “closed press.” That’s Washington lingo for no media coverage whatsoever.

The shift from overexposure to carefully targeted public appearances is the smartest political move the White House has made this year. Americans appear ready for a president who’s not in their face day after day, hectoring, sounding an alarm, and, more often than not in Obama’s case, boring everyone. The less Obama does in public, I suspect, the more popular he’s likely to become. Gradually. 

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