Commentary Magazine


Topic: Ben LaBolt

The Collateral Damage of Obama’s Post-Modernist Presidency

In response to a recent post — in which I wrote that “Barack Obama is a thoroughly post-modern president. Words and facts have no objective standing; they are relative, socially constructed, a way to advance personal reality.” — I was criticized by a Time magazine reporter for continuing my “relentless attempts to depict Barack Obama as a despicable human being” and for employing tactics that are “not only intellectually dishonest, but cynical in the extreme.”

In fact, the point of my piece — which is that during oral arguments before the Supreme Court President Obama’s legal team referred to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a tax even as his administration now says it isn’t a tax and never was a tax — remains unrefuted. Indeed, this short clip validates exactly what I was arguing. It shows Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt insisting that “at no point” did any of the government’s lawyers, including Solicitor General Verrilli, refer to the ACA as a tax — followed by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli referring to the ACA as a tax.

How inconvenient.

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In response to a recent post — in which I wrote that “Barack Obama is a thoroughly post-modern president. Words and facts have no objective standing; they are relative, socially constructed, a way to advance personal reality.” — I was criticized by a Time magazine reporter for continuing my “relentless attempts to depict Barack Obama as a despicable human being” and for employing tactics that are “not only intellectually dishonest, but cynical in the extreme.”

In fact, the point of my piece — which is that during oral arguments before the Supreme Court President Obama’s legal team referred to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a tax even as his administration now says it isn’t a tax and never was a tax — remains unrefuted. Indeed, this short clip validates exactly what I was arguing. It shows Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt insisting that “at no point” did any of the government’s lawyers, including Solicitor General Verrilli, refer to the ACA as a tax — followed by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli referring to the ACA as a tax.

How inconvenient.

Increasingly, the only thing Obama’s allies in the press have left is ad hominem huffing and puffing. They throw out charges that are as severed from reality as the claims made by Obama. It serves as a cautionary tale. Those who choose to defend the corruption of words by this president and his team will, sooner or later, be drawn into the enterprise themselves.

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Obama’s Bain Hypocrisy

ABC News reports that one of Obama’s top bundlers, Bain Capital executive Jonathan Lavine, actually appears to have had much more of a connection to the Ampad plant-closing issue than Mitt Romney did:

The Obama campaign’s latest attack tells the story of workers at an Indiana office supply company who lost their jobs after a Bain-owned company named American Pad & Paper (Ampad) took over their company and drove it out of business.

Here’s what the Obama web video doesn’t mention: A top Obama donor and fundraiser had a much more direct tie to the controversy and actually served on the board of directors at Richardson, Texas-based Ampad, which makes office paper products….

Lavine started working for Bain in 1993. He was one of three Bain executives who served on the board of directors of Ampad for several years, a post he held until 1999. Here’s a news release announcing his departure from the company in April 1999.

Lavine’s placement on the board of Ampad suggests he had a more direct role than Romney in the series of events surrounding the layoffs, labor disputes and eventual bankruptcy of the Marion, Ind., factory featured in the Obama campaign video.

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ABC News reports that one of Obama’s top bundlers, Bain Capital executive Jonathan Lavine, actually appears to have had much more of a connection to the Ampad plant-closing issue than Mitt Romney did:

The Obama campaign’s latest attack tells the story of workers at an Indiana office supply company who lost their jobs after a Bain-owned company named American Pad & Paper (Ampad) took over their company and drove it out of business.

Here’s what the Obama web video doesn’t mention: A top Obama donor and fundraiser had a much more direct tie to the controversy and actually served on the board of directors at Richardson, Texas-based Ampad, which makes office paper products….

Lavine started working for Bain in 1993. He was one of three Bain executives who served on the board of directors of Ampad for several years, a post he held until 1999. Here’s a news release announcing his departure from the company in April 1999.

Lavine’s placement on the board of Ampad suggests he had a more direct role than Romney in the series of events surrounding the layoffs, labor disputes and eventual bankruptcy of the Marion, Ind., factory featured in the Obama campaign video.

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt gave ABC an evasive response when asked about the contradiction:

“No one aside from Mitt Romney is running for president highlighting their tenure as a corporate buyout specialist as one of job creation,” LaBolt said. “The president has support from business leaders across industries who have seen him pull the economy back from the brink of another depression.”

True, Romney is the only candidate running as a turnaround artist and job-creator. But Obama is also the only candidate running on the claim that Bain Capital is a greedy company that bulldozed smaller businesses and destroyed lives. If that’s the centerpiece of his reelection strategy – and so far it sounds like it is – isn’t it noteworthy that he’s taking large donations from Bain leadership?

It’s not just donations, either. Lavine’s name appeared six times on the White House visitor logs since Obama took office, including a meeting with Rahm Emanuel in 2009. Lavine and two other Bain executives, Josh Bekenstein and Mark Nunnelly, were also invited to a White House event encouraging the private sector to invest in community-oriented non-profits in 2009. In a speech at the event, Obama called on the attending business leaders to “provide that critical seed capital to launch these ideas”:

So all of this represents a new kind of partnership between government and the non-profit sector. But I can tell you right now, that partnership isn’t complete, and it won’t be successful, without help from the private sector. And that’s why I’m glad that there are some deep pockets in the audience here — foundations, corporations, and individuals. You need to be part of this effort, as well.  And that’s my challenge to the private sector today.

Note that Lavine, Bekenstein and Nunnelly were all top Bain executives during Romney’s tenure and remain so today. The fact that the White House invited them to an event to encourage them to invest in vital non-profits seems to contradict the White House’s current claim that Bain had a history of destroying companies it invested in.

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Pressure Booker? From Inept to Dishonest

Earlier today I criticized Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt for his strikingly inept television appearance. But ineptness is one thing; misleading people is quite another. And as this new RNC ad  makes clear, LaBolt’s statement that the Obama campaign did not reach out to Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the aftermath of Booker’s defense of Bain Capital was simply not true.

Mayor Booker himself admits he was contacted by the Obama campaign. Which means that LaBolt was either lying or he’s speaking out on issues he has no knowledge about while giving us the impression that he’s an authoritative voice.

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Earlier today I criticized Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt for his strikingly inept television appearance. But ineptness is one thing; misleading people is quite another. And as this new RNC ad  makes clear, LaBolt’s statement that the Obama campaign did not reach out to Newark Mayor Cory Booker in the aftermath of Booker’s defense of Bain Capital was simply not true.

Mayor Booker himself admits he was contacted by the Obama campaign. Which means that LaBolt was either lying or he’s speaking out on issues he has no knowledge about while giving us the impression that he’s an authoritative voice.

I have some free counsel for the Obama administration: Get LaBolt off the air before he does more damage to your credibility and your cause.

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Message Discipline Ad Absurdum

Anderson Cooper’s interview with Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt is fantastically ineffective. CNN’s Cooper asks LaBolt questions about the hypocrisy of Obama’s attack on Bain Capital. LaBolt refuses to answer them, choosing instead to simply repeat his talking points. This isn’t unheard of in American politics, of course. But LaBolt’s mechanical, rigid, and robotic style — his refusal even to acknowledge Cooper’s question if only to pivot off of it — is beyond parody. It is message discipline ad absurdum.

It’s impossible to know why the Obama campaign would think there is any up-side to putting someone like LaBolt on the air. Anyone even remotely objective would come away from this interview less impressed with the president’s position, correctly assuming that LaBolt’s inability to address the questions directed at him means he has no counter-argument to offer.

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Anderson Cooper’s interview with Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt is fantastically ineffective. CNN’s Cooper asks LaBolt questions about the hypocrisy of Obama’s attack on Bain Capital. LaBolt refuses to answer them, choosing instead to simply repeat his talking points. This isn’t unheard of in American politics, of course. But LaBolt’s mechanical, rigid, and robotic style — his refusal even to acknowledge Cooper’s question if only to pivot off of it — is beyond parody. It is message discipline ad absurdum.

It’s impossible to know why the Obama campaign would think there is any up-side to putting someone like LaBolt on the air. Anyone even remotely objective would come away from this interview less impressed with the president’s position, correctly assuming that LaBolt’s inability to address the questions directed at him means he has no counter-argument to offer.

The assumption of the White House staff is that offering talking points in the LaBolt manner is more useful than saying nothing at all. They’re wrong. An interview with an empty chair would have been less harmful to Obama’s cause, if only because it would come across as less condescending to viewers. It’s a flawed assumption that the public is stupid enough not to see what’s going on, or realize that they’re being played for fools.

There are many signs that the Obama campaign in 2012 isn’t nearly up to the standards of the Obama campaign in 2008. LaBolt’s appearance is just one of them.

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