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Is Obama Opposition Reaching The Tipping Point?

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a fascinating book a few years ago titled The Tipping Point. The theme of the book is that some social/consumer habits can change dramatically in a very short time period of time and bring with that change disproportionately large results. This point of change is what the author described as the "tipping point", a phrase which has entered the vernacular of today's politics.

One of the examples Gladwell used in his book was an inexplicable spike in the popularity among young urban dwellers of the shoe we all know as Hush Puppies, "the classic brushed-suede shoes with the light weight crepe sole". Hush Puppies were a staple of American life for years but had been long removed (think decades) from what might be described as an example of American fashion. Sales of the shoe had dropped to 30,000 pairs a year in 1994.

Sometime in 1995 some Hush Puppies marketing reps learned from a New York City stylist that Hush Puppies were a highly sought after item in Manhattan resale stores. None of this demand was the result of a company sponsored marketing effort, product improvement or sales campaign. Rather, it was the result of the choices made by certain inner city "hipsters". Gladwell later labeled these change agents (the "hipsters") as Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen, but don't be fooled. The Salesmen couldn't do a thing (and hadn't) until the Mavens had done their thing in Manhattan clubs where they wore the shoes that no one else would wear in a simple statement of defiance. Hush Puppies had become a sort of "anti fashion" statement, but the odd result of this "anti fashion" epidemic was that annual sales of the shoe went from 30,000 pairs in 1994 to 430,000 pairs in 1995 to 1,600,000 pairs in 1996.

This is a fascinating book that studies the phenomenon of social trends, epidemic behavior and behavioral changes that shock societies in their suddenness. Given the current political environment this book is required reading. It explains much about the "inevitability" (the epidemic effect) of social phenomena similar to the Obama effect and the epidemic qualities that influenced the political environment that led to his sweeping victory in 2008.

I was reminded of this when I read a post by Jennifer Rubin at Contentions that asks if the electorate has reached the tipping point with President Obama:

What has coalesced, it seems, over the past week is the perception that Obama is angry, panicky, and without a game plan, and that his critics no longer cower. In short, out there something has changed: opposition and criticism of the president is everywhere--in mainstream media, in casual conversation, and in local press. The assumption that Obama knows best has been shattered, and the perception sinking in among the pundit class and ordinary voters (some of whom were quite favorably disposed to him before the health-care debate) is that the president is out of touch and just plain wrong when it comes to his desire to reinvent health care for 300 million Americans. In sum, it's become "in" to criticize, quite openly and vehemently, Obama on his signature initiative.

It remains to be seen whether this is a Katrina-like event--a tipping point after which the public simply tunes out their president. Recent history is filled with examples of course corrections and presidents who regained their effectiveness and political domination after a serious legislative setback. Bill Clinton comes to mind. But given this president's extraordinarily high self-regard, it remains an open question whether Obama is capable of--what's the phrase?--self-reflection. Is he able to see that he's lost the respect and the trust of the public and that it may be time to rethink not just the public option but the entire conception of health care as well?

Is the electorate nearing the tipping point where a wave of "anti Obama" sentiment reaches epidemic levels?


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Comments (33)

ar-ro-gance [noun] <... (Below threshold)

ar-ro-gance [noun]
offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.

I half expected the online dictionary definition of "arrogance" to end with: see "Obama"

From his first "I Won!", to his latest dismissal of opposition to him as being a "conspiracy", Obama has shown NO regard for those who refuse his KoolAid.

Tipping point? The next 6 weeks will tell, as Congress returns and Obama tries his "Chicago Rules" approach to, uh, "influencing" them.

I think what has happened i... (Below threshold)
jim m:

I think what has happened is that he has pushed to the point that opposition has been forced to make a stand and rather than negotiate a settlement that would provide a win-win deal he chose to try to bully the opposition into submission.

That was a miscalculation. Instead of preserving his image and influence he spent it all in a mistaken effort to force his agenda. Now everyone has seen behind the curtain and knows that there is little substance behind the sophistication.

This is a tipping point regardless. If he forces health care through with his raw majorities in congress he will have moved against the majority of Americans who are now against it. He will have forgone the chance to persuade the public and will be viewed as an authoritarian figure. If he tries to push it through but fails he will be seen as dangerous , but weak. Last, if he backs down he will be seen as clumsy, inexperienced and out of touch with the public.

His best bet is to delay and try to turn the public opinion around, but that is going to require a substantive and convincing argument and I don't believe there is one.

From his first "I Won!",... (Below threshold)
jim m:

From his first "I Won!", to his latest dismissal of opposition to him as being a "conspiracy", Obama has shown NO regard for those who refuse his KoolAid.

It's this overly inflated opinion of himself and his utter disrespect for the concerns and opinions of those who disagree that is doing it. Not everyone is going to agree with him 100% of the time. Once someone has been exposed to his arrogance and disdain they start seeing him for what he really is.

He was elected on the strength of a growing cult of personality. That image is starting to crack. Unless he starts arresting the opposition (and I wouldn't put it past him) this will continue.

"Is he able to see that he'... (Below threshold)
retired military:

"Is he able to see that he's lost the respect and the trust of the public and that it may be time to rethink not just the public option but the entire conception of health care as well?
"

I dont think he cares. He believes he is meant to restructure America as a socialist utopia and redistribute the wealth to make everyone even. It is his vision, his mission, and he wont be swayed. Not only that he thinks that he was elected to do this. His talk of only being a one term president is hogwash as he feels that once this transormation has started that he will be reelected by the unwashed masses as he is the only person (in his mind) that can lead them. Anything else is a distraction. Anyone who criticizes him isnt smart enough to see his vision and therefore is unworthy of his contemplation.

He believes himself to be the smartest person in the room and on a mission from Allah.

David Gurgan said something... (Below threshold)
kathie:

David Gurgan said something very interesting on CNN's program about health care. He said that both Clinton and Obama have misread the American people. I believe this as well. He said that Americans are like an "outlier Nation". We are fundamentally, as a people, not like the Canadians or the Europeans, I say we have very different DNA. We don't like government, we don't trust government, we fear it's largess. We see ourselves as individuals that have come together on a land that we call America. We are proud of our values and country, but we won't give up our individuality for group think easily, or ever. We would rather fight private enterprise, because most of us work there and we know we can bend it's direction by causing financial hurt. We fear we can never change the government and they can punish us.

Unless he starts arrest... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Unless he starts arresting the opposition (and I wouldn't put it past him) this will continue.

Jim m - if he starts to do THAT then it's really going to solidify opposition. Hell, even at his supposed 'worst' Bush wasn't having the folks complaining about him arrested.

But it would confirm what a lot of people are thinking - that Obama's a 'cult of personality' leader, and hasn't got anything as far as leadership goes than charisma that's off the chart. Practicality? Nope. Sense? Nope. Ability to enlist gullible lackeys with the thinnest of promises? Yep - it's a function of charisma.

"....given this president's... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"....given this president's extraordinarily high self-regard...."

This is what makes him dangerous. Arrogant, conceited, narcissist; all describe him well. That explains "I won" and "Shut up". He has shown that he'll throw anyone (even his grandmother) under the bus if it suits his purpose. His first loyalty is to himself. He thinks nothing of telling Blue Dogs to vote for "his plan" despite the consequences (being voted out of office). He gets Reid to threaten 'the nuclear option' to pass 'his plan' despite the repercussions that will follow. It will be interesting to see what happens next month. Should Obama's health plan reform fail, I wonder how many he will take down with him? Oh, and he still reminds me of another political leader, April 30, 1945.

The Tipping Point was the 4... (Below threshold)
davidt:

The Tipping Point was the 4/15/09 Tea Parties when a lot of people found out they were not alone in their anger at the political class, and at Obama and the Democrats in particular.

Is it just me, or is the le... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Is it just me, or is the left getting confused on their 'messages'?

1. People are becoming MORE RACIST (disapproving of the President) because the economy is GOING SOUR and not improving.

2. The economy is improving each day. 'Green shoots' are coming up all over. Happy Days are here again.

So MSM, you of the elite intelligentsia, which is it? Oh, BTW, I'm thinking of recommending to the DOJ that the "Southern Poverty Law Center" be designated a 'hate group'. Think Eric "Black Panther" Holder will go along?

Is it just me, or is the... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Is it just me, or is the left getting confused on their 'messages'?

It's hard to keep your story straight when it's not founded on truth.

It's hard to found a story on truth when you believe that all truth is relative.

The problem for the left is that they cannot see where they are being inconsistent.

"The problem for the left i... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"The problem for the left is that they cannot see where they are being inconsistent."

To be perfectly clear (has a nice ring to it),
they went from 'inconsistent' to 'hypocrisy', and it doesn't bother them at all.

Rasmussen Reports President... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Rasmussen Reports Presidential daily tracking poll has Obama at his lowest approval rating yet with even less than half of Democrats strongly approving of his presidency.

The approval index stands at -14 the lowest yet.

Our post-racial, post-partisan president is becoming the post-popularity president too.

Someone did make an interes... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

Someone did make an interesting comparison to Bush at the time he formulated the "surge". Everything was going to hell in Iraq (at least, it seemed so to us all, with MSM help, but it was a grim time) and Bush basically ignored every single "expert", went with his heart and gut, and..... well, I'll let the incomparable Bill Whittle finish the sentence... "it succeeded not because of the additional troops so much as for the fact that when the media and the Democrats demanded we cut and run... we did not cut and run. We doubled down. When the calls for defeat and dishonor were at their loudest - sad to say a not unwarranted street rep we had made for ourselves - somehow, somehow we simply just hung on and gave them not a retreat but a charge.

Jesus Christ, but that must have gotten someone's attention."

So some are arguing that it would be equally courageous for Obama to do essentially the same thing with his program(s). There is a certain analogy there.

But what such people miss is hugely fundamental. If both Presidents have paasionate faith, and act on it... Bush's faith was in the men and women of the US armed forces. Once he ordered the surge, he was essentially done. They would make or break it, and he beleived in them.

Obamas faith is in himself, the political left and the bureaucracy, in that order. Were he to order such a "surge", it's success would depend entirely on same.

And they ain't got it. They all think they do (the first two at least), but they don't.

For him to do it would be brave, the way General Custer was brave.... or perhaps that fella who ordered Barbarossa. With similar results.

But his own temperment may leave him no choice.

Waterloo indeed.

One other difference betwee... (Below threshold)
jim m:

One other difference between the surge and health care:

The surge was somewhere else and, for the most part, affected other people. Health care is up close and personal for everyone. Even thought the surge worked people still didn't like it, but since it was far away and didn't affect them directly the protests didn't go anywhere. Now with health care even if it works (which it won't) you will have people who don't like it. People who liked what they had to start with. Everyone is directly affected and it is right here in their faces every day.

Obama can force this issue if he wants, but it becomes a bigger loser for him every day and won't stop being so if he passes it. It will only get worse.

Finally, it has all the hallmarks of a disaster. Everything else he has tried has gone off the rails, TARP, the auto bailout, CARS, porkulous... There is no reason to assume this will be any different.

It's a loser no matter what on account of how Obama's played it.

I'm hoping it's the media t... (Below threshold)
glenn:

I'm hoping it's the media that has reached a tipping point.

Obama can turn this around ... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

Obama can turn this around with a very simple act - START OVER! Take his vacation and walk back into the limelight and tell the American people he has rethought the problem and he is ordering the Democrats in the two houses to shut down the current proposals and select representatives from BOTH parties to meet and hammer out a compromize position. And in order for there to be complete transparency in the proceedings, he will invite all of the major new organizations to broadcast the event in real time - no smoke filled back door negotiations, every thing to be up front and in view of all.

With this one action, Obama would completely put all of his critics back on their heels and recapture the initiative within the debate and the trust of the American people.

NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

'Cause it is not in Saul Alinsky's playbook. He will come back and play hard ball Chicago style politics. Some sort of bill will pass, complete with the Public Option, using some version of the "Nuclear Option" and the Democrats will do to themsleves in less than 2 years what it took the Republicans 14 years to do - lose the complete confidence of the American people to govern.

We are fundamental... (Below threshold)
Stan25:
We are fundamentally, as a people, not like the Canadians or the Europeans, I say we have very different DNA. We don't like government, we don't trust government, we fear it's largess. We see ourselves as individuals that have come together on a land that we call America. We are proud of our values and country, but we won't give up our individuality for group think easily, or ever. We would rather fight private enterprise, because most of us work there and we know we can bend it's direction by causing financial hurt.

This stems from the very founding of this country. The people who wanted to keep King George III as the leader, were moved to Canada and the UK, after the Revolutionary War. It also goes back to the fundamental belief that, "We the people" know the best and in 99.9% of the time we are right. The pols in DC are in a very small minority and they resent that fact

SShiell, I sure hope Obama ... (Below threshold)

SShiell, I sure hope Obama and/or his handlers don't see your post that starts: "Obama can turn this around with a very simple act - START OVER!"

...because that would WORK! And then we'd NEVER be rid of this guy!

It would be insincere...but would SOUND so sincere...that America would lap it up!

Luckily, he IS too arrogant to consider it

While we may be at the tipp... (Below threshold)

While we may be at the tipping point you describe, I don't share your fascination with Gladwell's book. He ably describes unstable situations that, with relatively little input, can be tipped towards a far different outcome. But I found little in there that would help distinguish those from far more stable situations that remain unchanged regardless of the inputs. "Tipping point" has been used far too much as a hand-waving buzzword, just as "chaos theory" was overused a few years prior.

I agree with David T, the t... (Below threshold)
kathie:

I agree with David T, the tipping point was the "Tea Parties". The massive number gave the silent minority the courage to stand up and shout even louder.

My bet, Obama doesn't cry Uncle, ego would never allow it.

Tea Parties, anti-ObamaCare... (Below threshold)

Tea Parties, anti-ObamaCare rallies and TownHalls are indeed the tipping point!

The more they demean those daring to oppose them, the more determined wse are TO oppose them.

As I like to say:
I can be quiet...UNLESS YOU TELL ME TO SHUT UP!

"He will come back and play... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"He will come back and play hard ball Chicago style politics."

That's what I'm thinking. He doesn't know what else to do. His Chief of Staff will tell him to keep pushing, as will Pelosi and quite possibly Reid. Pelosi, because she lives in a bubble of Democratic support and would not know reality if it bit her on her ass; Reid because he's too stupid to know anything else and will do as he's told. If it turns ugly, the Democrats are going to reveal themselves to the moderate voters and it won't be pretty.

GarandFan is right.<p... (Below threshold)
jim m:

GarandFan is right.

It will be hard for Obama to compromise. He has no history of ever having done so in the past. He is an ideologue and has always surrounded himself with people who think the same way he does. He has never been really challenged ideologically and has never really allowed himself to be.

He has the fanatic's assurance that he is right even when every evidence shouts that he is wrong. He will continue to double down and get harsher and harsher in his dealing with opposition.

We have seen where his tendencies run: Vilify the opposition, call out armies of thugs to intimidate opposition, create networks of snitches to inform on adversaries... he is more than willing to deploy the apparatus of a police state against the public in order to get what he wants.

The only thing he has lacked so far is sufficient courage to go all the way with it...or sufficient desperation.

We bring in over 150,000 fo... (Below threshold)
gofer:

We bring in over 150,000 foreign workers every month, not counting the "sneak ins" and that tells us just how he feels about the American workers. We are going the way of all great empires, we are being taken over from within.

Say, lets go Obama-tipping.... (Below threshold)
epador:

Say, lets go Obama-tipping.

No thanks. I don't want to... (Below threshold)
jim m:

No thanks. I don't want to step in one of those Obama-pies.

****When OBama was a... (Below threshold)
The Truth:

****
When OBama was asked if he would sign up for the new health care plan; guess what? He didn't answer the question.

Also other senators stated that they'd see if they would

Obama=Jeremiah wright (OBAma's pastor)...- Hates whites

Jeremiah Wright is the godfather of OBama's kids...

Beware.. Obama is trying to jam stuff down your throat...he's not good for America

The Devil in sheep's clothing

Congress rejected an amendm... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Congress rejected an amendment requiring them to utilize any public option insurance.

Obama's refusal to answer the questions was sufficient for anyone listening to understand that he would not subject his family to it.

Public option is good for us but not good enough for him and his family. Public schools are good enough for us but not good enough for him and his family. He wants to control our lives and hold himself above and beyond the same system.

The "tipping point" is when... (Below threshold)
Trajan:

The "tipping point" is when Matthews, Olberman
Maddow, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, and the NYT turn
on this imposter and aim at his vitals. It
won't happen unless the PEOPLE force them to
do it. We, the people.......

"The only thing he has lack... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"The only thing he has lacked so far is sufficient courage to go all the way with it...or sufficient desperation."

I think Mr Snake Oil Salesman is still throwing around trying to find 'that one pitch that will sell'. It's worked for him before, and lets face it, Obama has the greatest reverence and admiration for the abilities of...Obama.

Obama well knows what would happen if he forces 'reconciliation' in the Senate. Business would come to a standstill there, and not for months, for the next couple of years. Barry thinks thins move too slowly there now, just wait for the parliamentary law wars to start. Were he to actually use open force (DOJ investigations, tax examinations) against any detractors, the blindfold would fall away from the eyes of all but the hardcore Brown Shirts. At that point, Barry and company would be toast. Not even the mythical head of the DOJ, Eric Black Panther Holder could save him. Remember how the Obama administration was going to bring the Bush Administration to justice? The way Barry and company are going, this could be a case of projection that actually boomerangs.

Not to say the battle has yet to be won. You ban be guaranteed the Rahm is out trying to find dirt on anyone in opposition at this point. Nancy is probably still writing checks neither she or the taxpayer can cover in order to buy as many votes as possible. Yeah, the lady leading 'the most ethical Congress ever!'.

Pass the popcorn. September is going to be a fun month.

I'm impressed. 30 comments ... (Below threshold)
BPG:

I'm impressed. 30 comments and nary a troll in sight. Where are they all?

I don't believe we've reached the tipping point yet. I do believe the potential is there.

Were the President to lead rather than delegate healthcare, cap & tax, porkulus, and whatever else to the people that have proven for 2+ years that they're incapable of doing ANYTHING...that's right, folks, it's the 535 members of the U.S. Congress.

HughS, I can't help but won... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

HughS, I can't help but wonder if you have missed the point of your own article. Undeniably, Obama IS the tipping point that has wrought disproportionately large Socialist "change" within our nation. Conservatives knew this was going to happen. We've seen it coming for a long time but people derided us as alarmists, and still do even now.

Whether the push-back will overcome the initial attack remains to be seen. I certainly pray so.

That's a valid point Jeff. ... (Below threshold)
HughS:

That's a valid point Jeff. I considered that before posting the article but had in mind that it seems like forever since there has been any Obama's opposition.




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