The presidential compulsion to do something
[Presidents] virtually never move public opinion in their direction,” [presidential scholar George] Edwards tells National Journal. Citing polling numbers for six decades and multiple presidents, he says, “It happened for Ronald Reagan. It happened for FDR. It happens all the time. You should anticipate failure if you’re trying to change people’s minds. The data is overwhelming.”
But that doesn’t change the presidential compulsion to do… something, even if it’s just giving (yet another) speech. And given the hosannas President Obama has been offered from the traditional media—hollow as they are—as our smartest president ever and a public speaker of great renown, circumstances are unlikely to change his future behavior, that is, when in doubt, give a speech. And yet, it isn’t working:
…four years of speeches have yet to gain solid public support for Obama’s health care overhaul. And the president’s many speeches on the sequester or on his jobs plan never won over the public, let alone members of Congress. “Now, he is doing it about guns,” Edwards says. “And he’s not going to have any more success…. Presidents just are not successful in changing people’s minds.”
So if the above is true, how difficult will it be to undo the economic and national security damage wrought by the President and his minions (and those who already have their minds made up)? And how are minds ever changed?
It isn’t a rhetorical question; really, what exactly causes people to change their minds on a particular topic? Is it the incessant drumbeat of the culture, the media, or special interest groups? Peer pressure?
Seriously, inquiring minds want to know…