Barack Obama finds himself in an unfamiliar position: He’s losing a message war, Jeanne Cummings writes in Politico. Obama’s tightly controlled, tech-savvy campaign operation is still adapting to the White House’s more ponderous tool set. Republicans, meanwhile, “could practically sleep-walk through their attack plan” on the stimulus package, which required just two steps: “Scream pork, call Rush Limbaugh.”
Independent liberal groups have tried to help with ad buys, but that’s led to some off-message moments. Obama let the House draft the stimulus out of deference, and it loaded the bill with fodder for GOP critics. Finally, Obama “hasn’t mastered the less-is-more formula” for presidential appearances. Obama must restrain himself, giving cable news time to chew each event.