Obama and the progressive left, as a general rule, think the American people will believe what they're told to believe. We on the right talk about his political tin ear because he genuinely doesn't understand how we think. But in 21st century America, he doesn't have to. We are an irrelevant demographic to him.
But that's not the end of it. He doesn't really care what the people who support him think either, because he doesn't have to. The best evidence of this that I've seen since the election was his TV appearance just before the new year, when he announced that a 'fiscal cliff' deal was in the making. I wasn't paying close attention until I heard a rousing cheer go up from the crowd.
"Where is he speaking" I wondered to myself, "Georgetown Law School or something? Who are his supporters that are cheering like that? He just won an election... what can he possibly be campaigning for now?"
But he wasn't campaigning. The loud cheer came from his supporters... his supporters in the press.
What Obama has figured out is that you don't have to care what the people think if you understand what the press who speak to them think. That's who his real constituency is. For him, the information flow is all one way. He says things couched in precisely the kind of terms that the press like, and that corresponds to their self important biases. They then report it in as favorable terms as they can. That's what happened with the fiscal cliff deal. It was poor legislation, that barely addressed our fiscal issues. But you'll never hear that from the press because it punished the people they want to punish.
To say this complicates the job of conservatives in trying to speak to Snooki-Americans, is no understatement. Our ideas are not popular with the press because they generally reward things like merit, and results. The press would prefer we reward words and ideas since that's all they ever produce. To them rewarding actual achievement is declasse - it's an indicator of base motives linked to things like profit and greed.
Even more, the press doesn't argue like you and I argue. They genuinely believe that "the truth" is defined by how well you wield your semantic knife. As far as they're concerned, the person with the best 'sound bite' must be speaking the truth. That's the limit of their depth. And they always believe that its they who have the best sound bite, so they should be the ones to decide policy.
When it comes to the first amendment, they are absolutists. Even further, they believe that to be a journalist gives them special rights. They believe that it means they can break the law with impunity so long as it server a broader journalistic goal. David Gregory's firearms scoff law and Dan Rather's career ending forgery incident are just two of the best known examples. To them "journalist" is a special class of anointed elite, designated by the universe to be the grand arbiter of the truth.
They are absolutists about the second amendment as well. Since the second amendment directly empowers the citizen and speaks directly to the use of force, they see it as weakening the first amendment and the broader power of words, and indirectly ... them. That's why the consensus that the second amendment should be shattered is so strong among journalists.
But that's who the real opposition to American conservatism is. These shallow, vain, dim, thoughtless, insecure people. If Snooki-American are as mindless as a herd of cattle, these are the cowboys who herd them. It's certainly how they see themselves at any rate. I don't know if it's possible for the conservative movement to speak to them in terms that they'll represent fairly. Milton Friedman did it, but he took them by surprise, and they've since hardened their semantic arguments to his kind of rationality. But if the republic is to survive, I believe we need to figure out a way.