Obama: Leadership via polls and focus groups

I can’t say this story is really that surprising, but it strikes me as very sad. It seems to me that “leadership” means telling people what they need to hear and then getting it done. It looks like Obama’s approach is to tell people what they think they want to hear.

We’ve seen this approach before. Best example outside Washington was then LA governor Kathleen “uh” Babineaux “um” Blanco during Hurricane Katrina. She couldn’t make a decision without taking a poll first. When Obama gets that 3am call, is he going to say “I’ll get back to you in 24 hours once my consultants have figured out how I can best wordsmith my response in some focus groups and we can float some trial balloons to see what reaction the Times and Post report”? Put lipstick on a pig and you still have a pig.

President-elect Barack Obama’s top political aides are transplanting their campaign tactics to the policy arena, using data from polls and focus groups to shape the debate over a stimulus plan that may cost at least $775 billion.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political adviser, along with campaign media adviser Jim Margolis, are encouraging lawmakers to use the word “recovery” instead of recession, and “investment” instead of “infrastructure.” Those recommendations came from focus-group research indicating that such framing would make the package more appealing to voters.