John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Message Discipline

Posted on July 19, 2010

Jake Tapper Interviews Joe Biden on This Week / Photo via

Sometimes, I just want to strangle Ronald McDonald.

From approximately 2 in the afternoon yesterday until about 8 o’clock yesterday night, my four-year old son had one message and one message only.  He wanted to go to Old McDonald.

Old McDonald – as he likes to call the place where you get the Big Mac – serves Happy Meals, and apparently, the Happy Meal is the only thing that makes my son happy these days.

So, for every fifteen minutes, at various pitches and voice levels, my son requested that we go to Old McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal.

On one level, the discourse between my son and me was extraordinarily frustrating.  I knew that he wasn’t going to get a Happy Meal yesterday, and he knew he wasn’t going to get a Happy Meal yesterday, but that didn’t stop him from requesting it on a fairly regular basis.

But on the other level, the message discipline that came from little Jack was very impressive.  He stuck to his message, no matter how ineffective it turned out to be.

Little Jack reminds me a bit of Joe Biden.

Now, let’s not kid ourselves.  When it comes to message discipline, Joe Biden is no Jack Feehery.  Biden is usually on some crazy tangent somewhere, whether he is talking about Anna Chapman (probably my favorite Biden line ever), the President’s over-reliance on the teleprompter (a close second place), or whatever else comes through his transom.

But on one issue, Biden is Johnny One-Note.  He believes that the economic stimulus -- passed by the Democrat-controlled Congress and signed by the President -- is good for the economy.   In fact, he is so confident, he is calling June/July/August, “Recovery Summer.”

He believes that the reason the stimulus package is so unpopular is because the American people are too stupid to understand what is in it.

Here is how he described it yesterday with Jake Tapper on This Week:

MR. TAPPER:  So the reason you're not getting enough credit is because the public doesn't understand everything that's happened yet?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  Well, nor could they or should they.

I mean, in the last six months of the Bush administration, they lost 3 million jobs.  Before we got our economic package in place, another 3.7 million jobs were lost in the first six months we took office.  The last six months of this year -- the first six months of this year, we created almost 600,000 private jobs, you know, in the private market.

That's not nearly enough to make up for the 8 million jobs lost in the recession, but people are going to start to focus on exactly what we're doing.  Look, I'm convinced, at least from sitting around my dad's kitchen table, and the people I grew up with, is when things are really tough economically and the country's in trouble, all they want to know is -- they don't expect an answer, but they expect to be reassured that we're moving in the right direction.  That is --

MR. TAPPER:  But they don't know that we are.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN:  No, they don't think (so) now, because I don't think they know the detail of what's going on.

For example, here you had the insurance industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make the health-care bill out to be this god-awful tragedy.

Now what's starting to happen, the health-care numbers are going up. Why?  Because they're figuring out that small businesses are going to get a 30 percent tax cut.  They didn't know that because of all the advertising done.

So there's a lot -- and I would use health care as an example. Health care has gone from a barrage of advertising against it -- why it was so bad.  Just like Wall Street reform:  The financial institutions spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying against this -- "this is an awful thing;" "it's government regulation."  All it is is rational control, and a turning around of what the Republicans did, which is let Wall Street run wild.

When you say to people, you know, we just went out and had a regulatory reform bill.  Where I come from, it's like, okay, what does that mean?  They don't know what it means yet, understandably.  And so I think it takes time, Jake

It doesn’t actually take that much time to figure this out, Mr. Vice President.

We know your message on the so-called stimulus.  “It is working.   It is working. You idiots just don’t understand all the mysterious ways that it is working.”

Actually (as my son might say), it is not working.

The economy looks like it might be heading for a double-dip recession.

Consumer confidence is down.

More Americans than ever think our country is on the wrong track.

The cash infusions that the Obama Administration made to local and state governments, which allowed them to stay artificially bloated, have run out and now the bill is coming due.

They have refused to deal with the expiring tax provisions, which means that the business community has no faith in the future.  They have passed a huge new financial regulatory bill where most of the big decisions have been punted to unelected bureaucrats, which means even more uncertainty for those folks who make the most of the small business loans out there.

And worse, the business community is terrified it is just going to get worse.

The Vice President can stay on his message all he wants, but it is not working.

My son didn’t get his Happy Meal and believe me, he wasn’t happy about it.

The American people are not believing the Vice President’s Happy Talk, and believe me, they aren’t happy either.

I may want to strangle Ronald McDonald, but the voters are going to do something else to the Democrats this fall.  They are going to throw them out of office.

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