Commentary Magazine


Obama Blasts GOP Debates

Obama’s poll numbers are scraping bottom, his own party is in revolt, and Americans are even starting to get nostalgic for the president Obama “inherited” this terrible economy from.

But on the other hand…have you seen those wacky right-wingers the Republicans are running?

At a fundraiser in San Jose, Calif., Obama said that some in the audience might be former Republicans “but are puzzled by what’s happening to that party,” and voters should back him if they believe in a “fact-based” America.

“I mean has anybody been watching the debates lately?” Obama said. “You’ve got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change.

“It’s true. You’ve got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don’t have healthcare. And booing a service member in Iraq because they’re gay.”

This is part of the “new” combative Obama strategy that’s getting rave reviews from the left, so expect to hear more of it later today at the president’s LinkedIn town hall. At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky sees something familiar about these tactics:

Wallsten doesn’t say this outright, but the Obama ’12 operation will be, if the script laid out in the Post is adhered to, in some respects not dissimilar from the George W. Bush reelection effort. In 2004, Bush and Karl Rove decided to play largely to the base. …

Obama is in a similar but even worse position. Whereas Bush was hugging 50 percent most of the year, Obama is lower, between 40 and 47, depending on whom you believe. So he’ll really have to crank up the base. It means the end of the old there-is-no-red-or-blue America Obama, although that Obama hasn’t really been suited up and on the playing field for some time.

The difference is, Bush actually had successful policies that he was able to run on. Obama’s major accomplishment has been health care reform, which is very unpopular with the public. While demonizing the Republicans will keep the majority of his base in line, it’s also likely to turn off independent voters who might see it as especially cynical, considering the promises Obama ran on in 2008.