Obama’s not-quite-win­ning slo­gan

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - — Justin Moyer moy­erj@wash­post.com

In his State of Union ad­dress this past Tues­day, Pres­i­dent Obama talked a lot about “win­ning the fu­ture.” And he ex­panded on the theme in a speech in Wis­con­sin on Wed­nes­day. “When Amer­ica is fac­ing tougher com­pe­ti­tion from coun­tries around the world than ever be­fore, we’ve got to to up our game,” Obama said. “We’re go­ing to need to go all in. We’re go­ing to need to get se­ri­ous about win­ning the fu­ture.”

But it wasn’t clear this slo­gan meant vic­tory. Sarah Palin noted its un­for­tu­nate acro­nym, WTF, while oth­ers ob­served that “Win­ning the Fu­ture” is the ti­tle of a 2005 book by Newt Gin­grich. “Sadly, there is no Obama plan for win­ning the fu­ture,” the ag­grieved Gin­grich blogged. “There is an Obama plan for pro­tect­ing big govern­ment, for pour­ing more money into bro­ken bu­reau­cra­cies, for bor­row­ing sev­eral tril­lion more from the Chi­nese dic­ta­tor­ship.”

Will “Win­ning the Fu­ture” — like Ron­ald Rea­gan’s “Morn­ing in Amer­ica” and Bill Clin­ton’s “It’s the Econ­omy, Stupid” — prove a clas­sic po­lit­i­cal slo­gan? Or is it des­tined to be trucked across the bridge to nowhere and scrapped like these other for­got­ten, less-than-catchy catch­phrases? In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right

Barry Gold­wa­ter, 1964 Gold­wa­ter’s far-right can­di­dacy in 1964 was a refuge for South­ern seg­re­ga­tion­ists. Un­for­tu­nately for him, more hearts thought Lyndon B. John­son was right — Gold­wa­ter lost in a land­slide.

Whip In­fla­tion Now

Ger­ald Ford, 1974 Pres­i­dent Ford whipped out “WIN” in 1974 to bat­tle stagfla­tion. Alan Greenspan of­fered his opin­ion of the un­suc­cess­ful pro­gram in his mem­oir “The Age of Tur­bu­lence”: “This is un­be­liev­ably stupid.”

Moral Equiv­a­lent of War

Jimmy Carter, 1977 Carter in­voked this phrase — the ti­tle of a book by philoso­pher Wil­liam James — to de­scribe his at­tempts to end the en­ergy cri­sis. Crit­ics be­lit­tled it with its acro­nym, MEOW. Ross for Boss

Ross Perot, 1992 Ross Perot’s on-again, off-again Re­form Party cam­paign in 1992 got him al­most 19 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote. In 1996, he won a mere 8 per­cent. Govern­ment of, by and for the Peo­ple . . . Not the Monied In­ter­ests

Ralph Nader, 2000 Though his long slo­gan wasn’t but­ton-friendly, Nader was ex­co­ri­ated by the left for spoil­ing the 2000 elec­tion for Al Gore.

Coun­try First

John McCain, 2008 McCain’s 2008 cam­paign slo­gan sought to cap­i­tal­ize on his com­pelling bi­og­ra­phy as pris­oner of war, but it left him sec­ond at the polls.

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