Feeling Good About What You've Bought

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The Americans United coalition has cut the first post-ARRA television ad; it'll run on national cable and in Washington, D.C., according to a spokesman. Why the need to tout a bill that's already been signed? One calls to mind Charles Grodin's character in Dave, wondering why the country needed to spend money making Americans feel good about cars they already bought?  The answer, I think, lies in two words: "first step."  They were used by President Obama today at the bill signing. They're used by Obama in an e-mail to his presidential campaign list. And they're in the new ad. The goal, I think, is to condition elites, and then the American people, to see the economic recovery act as one of several significant, expensive, complicated (or, to keep the metaphor, high, risky and precarious) steps that the government needs to take in order to right the economy.   

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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