Commentary Magazine


Topic: Obama campaign

Killing Obamacare Could Help the President

Despite an economy in real trouble, President Obama spent much of his first two years in office getting his health care plan through Congress. Passed with no Republican votes whatever, the plan was deeply unpopular with the public and has only gotten more so. Now the country awaits a Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality with a level of interest unseen since Brown v. Board of Education 58 years ago.

For all the speculation on whether the law will stand or fall, there has been almost as much on what the political impact of the decision will be in this presidential election year. If it is upheld, it would be a vindication for the president, who badly needs a political boost right now. But it is also likely to galvanize still further the opposition, which is already highly motivated.

On the other hand, if all of the law or the individual mandate provision is struck down (which would mean in all likelihood that the whole law is infeasible), the president will be seen as having wasted his own political capital and the country’s time when there was much economic distress and fiscal problems that should have been dealt with instead. He will be perceived as having been politically incompetent.

Read More

Despite an economy in real trouble, President Obama spent much of his first two years in office getting his health care plan through Congress. Passed with no Republican votes whatever, the plan was deeply unpopular with the public and has only gotten more so. Now the country awaits a Supreme Court decision on its constitutionality with a level of interest unseen since Brown v. Board of Education 58 years ago.

For all the speculation on whether the law will stand or fall, there has been almost as much on what the political impact of the decision will be in this presidential election year. If it is upheld, it would be a vindication for the president, who badly needs a political boost right now. But it is also likely to galvanize still further the opposition, which is already highly motivated.

On the other hand, if all of the law or the individual mandate provision is struck down (which would mean in all likelihood that the whole law is infeasible), the president will be seen as having wasted his own political capital and the country’s time when there was much economic distress and fiscal problems that should have been dealt with instead. He will be perceived as having been politically incompetent.

Yet, the death of Obamacare would lift a vast amount of uncertainty from the marketplace, and uncertainty, even more than bad news, depresses markets. As Betsy McCaughey pointed out recently in IBD, the requirement that employers with 50 or more employees provide a specified level of health insurance beginning in 2014 or pay a $2000 fine per employee will greatly increase labor costs, by an average of $1.79 an hour for each employee. That would be the biggest government-mandated labor cost hike in American history. This has made employers reluctant to hire, as their future labor costs are to a significant degree currently unknown. And those firms with nearly 50 employees have been very reluctant indeed to cross that threshold, for fear of becoming subject to the mandate.

With that uncertainty suddenly removed, there could be an immediate marked increase in hiring, leading to a fall in the unemployment rate. That would be a Godsend to the Obama campaign.

With the chattering classes collectively holding their breaths, the decision could come Monday. (Actually, I’m betting against Monday. At the penultimate sitting of the Court in June, the chief justice usually announces that the next sitting will be its last before the Court recesses for the summer. Chief Justice Roberts did not make such an announcement last Thursday, and so Monday probably won’t be the last decision day this term. The biggest decision of the year—in this case, the biggest decision in decades—is almost always announced on the last day of the term.)

But if it does come Monday and you want to get the news first, log onto scotusblog.com at ten o’clock tomorrow morning. They’ll be liveblogging the decisions being handed down at that time. The health care opinion is likely to be written by the most senior justice in the majority and so will be among the last to be announced, as decisions are read beginning with those written by the most junior justice. If Chief Justice Roberts is in the majority—which most likely means all or part of the law will be struck down—it will be announced last.

For what it’s worth, the Intrade odds as of Sunday morning are at 78.2 percent that the individual mandate will be thrown out, better than 3-to-1 and up sharply in the last few weeks.

Read Less

Konarka Is Not Romney’s Solyndra

After trying and failing to pin the Solyndra debacle on the Bush administration, the left is trying another dubious spread-the-guilt tactic. Think Progress breathlessly reports that a solar company that Mitt Romney gave a government grant to as governor has just declared bankruptcy:

On Thursday, Mitt Romney campaigned at the headquarters of Solyndra — the first renewable energy company to receive a federal loan under the stimulus — and reiterated his debunked claims that its bankruptcy symbolized the corruption and cronyism of the Obama administration. But just one day later, a solar panel developer “that landed a state loan from Mitt Romney when he was Massachusetts governor” went belly up, the Boston Herald reports, creating an inconvenient storyline for the GOP presidential nominee.

The company, Konarka Technologies, “filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and will cease operations, lay off its 85 workers and liquidate.”

Here’s a rundown of the case: As governor, Romney granted Konkara a $1.5 million state subsidy, about 350 times less than the half-billion dollar loan guarantee the Obama administration gave Solyndra. Konarka declared bankruptcy nearly a decade after Romney’s grant and five years after he left office, while the Obama administration’s investment tanked within two years.

Read More

After trying and failing to pin the Solyndra debacle on the Bush administration, the left is trying another dubious spread-the-guilt tactic. Think Progress breathlessly reports that a solar company that Mitt Romney gave a government grant to as governor has just declared bankruptcy:

On Thursday, Mitt Romney campaigned at the headquarters of Solyndra — the first renewable energy company to receive a federal loan under the stimulus — and reiterated his debunked claims that its bankruptcy symbolized the corruption and cronyism of the Obama administration. But just one day later, a solar panel developer “that landed a state loan from Mitt Romney when he was Massachusetts governor” went belly up, the Boston Herald reports, creating an inconvenient storyline for the GOP presidential nominee.

The company, Konarka Technologies, “filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and will cease operations, lay off its 85 workers and liquidate.”

Here’s a rundown of the case: As governor, Romney granted Konkara a $1.5 million state subsidy, about 350 times less than the half-billion dollar loan guarantee the Obama administration gave Solyndra. Konarka declared bankruptcy nearly a decade after Romney’s grant and five years after he left office, while the Obama administration’s investment tanked within two years.

There’s a debate to be had about whether government (either federal, or in Konkara’s case, state) should use taxpayer money to prop up individual companies, and in effect bet against others. But while that’s part of the conservative case against Solyndra, it’s not the main reason why the investment is controversial. The Obama administration’s efforts to rush through the Solyndra loan, despite red flags that the investment was rickety, smacked of crony capitalism — particularly as the largest private Solyndra money man, George Kaiser, is also a key Obama supporter.

Unless evidence surfaces that Romney had his own George Kaiser at Konkara, and that he ignored financial perils to prop up the company, the comparison is moot. The only thing the Konkara comparison shows is that the Obama campaign is petrified of the Solyndra issue, and desperate for ways to redirect attention.

Read Less

Clinton’s Motivation for Killing Bain Attack

To be fair, Cory Booker and Deval Patrick were really the ones who killed Obama’s Bain Capital strategy. But last night on CNN, Bill Clinton basically dipped it in cement and threw it in the East River:

Bill Clinton, in an appearance on CNN last night, said that Mitt Romney has a “sterling business career” and that the campaign shouldn’t be about what kind of work Romney did.

“I don’t think we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work; this is good work,” Clinton said, adding: “There’s no question that, in terms of getting up, going to the office, and basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who’s been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”

Clinton urged the Obama campaign to instead focus on contrasting its vision for the country with Romney’s. His comments came at the tail end of a day in which another Obama surrogate, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), called Bain a “a perfectly fine company.”

Read More

To be fair, Cory Booker and Deval Patrick were really the ones who killed Obama’s Bain Capital strategy. But last night on CNN, Bill Clinton basically dipped it in cement and threw it in the East River:

Bill Clinton, in an appearance on CNN last night, said that Mitt Romney has a “sterling business career” and that the campaign shouldn’t be about what kind of work Romney did.

“I don’t think we ought to get into the position where we say this is bad work; this is good work,” Clinton said, adding: “There’s no question that, in terms of getting up, going to the office, and basically performing the essential functions of the office, a man who’s been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold.”

Clinton urged the Obama campaign to instead focus on contrasting its vision for the country with Romney’s. His comments came at the tail end of a day in which another Obama surrogate, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), called Bain a “a perfectly fine company.”

Obviously, Clinton can’t be excused as a political neophyte and probably knew exactly what he was doing when he made that comment. The choice of words — lauding Romney’s “sterling business career” — went beyond what even Patrick or Booker have said about Romney. If Clinton wanted to merely express his disapproval of Obama’s strategy, he could have done it more subtly and without praising Romney’s career. He had to know he was giving Romney a priceless campaign soundbite that it will play on a loop whenever the Obama campaign tries to drag out the Bain attack again, effectively destroying any possibility that the strategy can be salvaged.

The question is, why? In the best case scenario, maybe Clinton was actually trying to help Obama. The former president is extremely well attuned to political trends, and maybe he senses that the Bain strategy will continue to bog down the Obama team if they keep pursuing it. Clinton’s argument that the election has to be about the big picture was similar to an argument his former pollster Douglas Schoen has made: Obama needs a clear, sweeping message for his campaign, a vision for a second term that transcends attack politics. Maybe Clinton was hoping his comments last night would be a sharp nudge in that direction.

Or, more cynically, maybe this wasn’t about helping Obama at all. Clinton has caused some headaches for this White House, and maybe he just doesn’t feel he has much to gain from Obama’s reelection, particularly if he wants Hillary to try again in 2016.

Read Less

The Dismal May Employment Figures

Only 69,000 jobs were created in May, the worst number in a year, and far below what economists had been expecting (the consensus forecast was for about 150,000 new jobs). Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent from 8.1. That’s the first actual increase in unemployment in 11 months. Stock market futures, already considerably down, plunged further with the news. Gold ticked up, and the ten-year bond fell to a record low of 1.46 percent (i.e., lend the federal government $1,000 and they will pay you a snappy $14.60 in interest per year).

The recovery, mediocre at best, has now appeared to stall, especially with jobs numbers for March and April revised downward (April’s were cut from 115,000 to 77,000, March’s from 154,000 to 143,000.) Europe’s numbers were even more dismal, with euro-zone unemployment now at 11 percent, the worst since the number was first calculated in 1995.

With Europe teetering on the edge of a financial meltdown, the head of the European Central Bank is telling political leaders to do something and do it now:

In a warning to political leaders, Mr. Draghi told members of the European Parliament on Thursday that the central bank is reaching the limits of its powers and now it is up to politicians to move quickly and decisively because the survival of the euro, the Continent’s common currency, is at stake. The structure of the currency union, he said, had become “unsustainable unless further steps are undertaken.”

These numbers are a disaster for the Obama re-election campaign. Indeed, unless they improve and improve soon, and unless European leaders take Lady Macbeth’s advice and screw their courage to the sticking place—not something for which European leaders have been noted of late—a year from now a Romney administration may be talking about the difficulty of dealing with the mess they inherited.

Only 69,000 jobs were created in May, the worst number in a year, and far below what economists had been expecting (the consensus forecast was for about 150,000 new jobs). Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent from 8.1. That’s the first actual increase in unemployment in 11 months. Stock market futures, already considerably down, plunged further with the news. Gold ticked up, and the ten-year bond fell to a record low of 1.46 percent (i.e., lend the federal government $1,000 and they will pay you a snappy $14.60 in interest per year).

The recovery, mediocre at best, has now appeared to stall, especially with jobs numbers for March and April revised downward (April’s were cut from 115,000 to 77,000, March’s from 154,000 to 143,000.) Europe’s numbers were even more dismal, with euro-zone unemployment now at 11 percent, the worst since the number was first calculated in 1995.

With Europe teetering on the edge of a financial meltdown, the head of the European Central Bank is telling political leaders to do something and do it now:

In a warning to political leaders, Mr. Draghi told members of the European Parliament on Thursday that the central bank is reaching the limits of its powers and now it is up to politicians to move quickly and decisively because the survival of the euro, the Continent’s common currency, is at stake. The structure of the currency union, he said, had become “unsustainable unless further steps are undertaken.”

These numbers are a disaster for the Obama re-election campaign. Indeed, unless they improve and improve soon, and unless European leaders take Lady Macbeth’s advice and screw their courage to the sticking place—not something for which European leaders have been noted of late—a year from now a Romney administration may be talking about the difficulty of dealing with the mess they inherited.

Read Less

Republicans Aren’t Rolling Over

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod shouldn’t have been surprised to see that a lot of Republicans turned up at the kickoff at the Statehouse in Boston for his campaign event tearing down Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. Though the event was supposedly a secret, it reportedly was leaked on Twitter, and a GOP response team was quick to react. Romney supporters chanting “Solyndra” — a reference to the failed energy company that was the recipient of so much Obama administration largesse, heckled Axelrod, turning the gathering into a bipartisan shouting match rather than an Obama show. The same day, Romney staged an event at the Fremont, California headquarters of Solyndra in a carefully planned attempt to upstage the Democrat’s efforts to seize control of the news cycle.

While all of this can and should just be put down to the usual give and take of a hotly contested presidential campaign, it does show that a lot has changed since the last time Axelrod was running a national campaign. Whereas in 2008, the campaign of John McCain was clearly outmatched in terms of technology and smarts by the “hope and change” juggernaut that put Barack Obama in the White House, in 2012 the GOP is determined not to roll over for the Democrats. If today is any indication of how things will go the next five months, Axelrod is in for a long, hard slog against an opponent capable of nimbly returning serve and scoring points even on days that the Chicago campaign guru thought would belong to him.

Read More

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod shouldn’t have been surprised to see that a lot of Republicans turned up at the kickoff at the Statehouse in Boston for his campaign event tearing down Mitt Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. Though the event was supposedly a secret, it reportedly was leaked on Twitter, and a GOP response team was quick to react. Romney supporters chanting “Solyndra” — a reference to the failed energy company that was the recipient of so much Obama administration largesse, heckled Axelrod, turning the gathering into a bipartisan shouting match rather than an Obama show. The same day, Romney staged an event at the Fremont, California headquarters of Solyndra in a carefully planned attempt to upstage the Democrat’s efforts to seize control of the news cycle.

While all of this can and should just be put down to the usual give and take of a hotly contested presidential campaign, it does show that a lot has changed since the last time Axelrod was running a national campaign. Whereas in 2008, the campaign of John McCain was clearly outmatched in terms of technology and smarts by the “hope and change” juggernaut that put Barack Obama in the White House, in 2012 the GOP is determined not to roll over for the Democrats. If today is any indication of how things will go the next five months, Axelrod is in for a long, hard slog against an opponent capable of nimbly returning serve and scoring points even on days that the Chicago campaign guru thought would belong to him.

As for the civility of the GOP tactics, any Democratic complaints about the heckling in Boston today would be hypocritical. Pro-Obama hecklers have dogged Romney since the beginning of the campaign. As Byron York notes in the Washington Examiner, Romney was practically shouted down by Democrat kibitzers in New Hampshire and earlier this year in Detroit. Last week, the president’s campaign even organized a high-ranking delegation of hecklers to try to derail a Romney event at a West Philadelphia charter school by dragooning Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter as well as District Attorney Seth Williams to show up and speak against the Republican candidate.

While Axelrod can expect things to go more smoothly on other days, the success of Romney’s staff in turning the tables on the Democrats proves they are capable of playing in the big leagues of national politics. That’s something McCain’s staff showed time and again in 2008 that they were not always capable of doing. The GOP effort will also not be handicapped by the enormous financial disadvantage that they labored under four years ago when the Obama campaign amassed a war chest that dwarfed McCain’s resources.

The Democrats still have the advantage of incumbency, a presidential candidate who is still a historic figure who appeals to the imagination of the public and the home cooking that the liberal press always gives the Democrats in general and Obama in particular. But the Boston and Solyndra events should impress upon Axelrod and his minions that they are in for the fight of their lives this year against opponents who are determined to beat him at his own games.

Read Less

Economic Shoes Are Dropping

If the stock market is truly a leading indicator (and it tends to be one of the more reliable ones), then the Obama campaign had better start worrying. May has been a brutal month for the Dow. It closed May 1 at 13,279. As it approached noon today, it’s at 12,360, down 59 on the day. That’s a decline of 7.1 percent for the month, wiping out all the gains since Jan. 1.

The reasons, of course, are not hard to find: the crisis in Europe, lackluster economic data in general, a sharp drop in consumer confidence in May, an uptick in weekly jobless claims, and more.

Perhaps the biggest news is the drop in bond rates. The benchmark ten-year treasury bond is currently yielding 1.53 percent. On July 1 last year, the ten-year treasury was yielding 3.2 percent, more than twice as much. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that the federal government can finance its huge deficits more easily (and consumers can borrow more cheaply as well: mortgage rates are at near record lows). But the bad news is that bond yields go down for two reasons: a slowing economy and/or a financial crisis. As nervous investors seek safe haven, demand for treasuries rises, pushing down yields. (French and German bond rates are also very low for the same reason, yielding 2.35 percent and an astonishing 1.24 percent respectively.)

Read More

If the stock market is truly a leading indicator (and it tends to be one of the more reliable ones), then the Obama campaign had better start worrying. May has been a brutal month for the Dow. It closed May 1 at 13,279. As it approached noon today, it’s at 12,360, down 59 on the day. That’s a decline of 7.1 percent for the month, wiping out all the gains since Jan. 1.

The reasons, of course, are not hard to find: the crisis in Europe, lackluster economic data in general, a sharp drop in consumer confidence in May, an uptick in weekly jobless claims, and more.

Perhaps the biggest news is the drop in bond rates. The benchmark ten-year treasury bond is currently yielding 1.53 percent. On July 1 last year, the ten-year treasury was yielding 3.2 percent, more than twice as much. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that the federal government can finance its huge deficits more easily (and consumers can borrow more cheaply as well: mortgage rates are at near record lows). But the bad news is that bond yields go down for two reasons: a slowing economy and/or a financial crisis. As nervous investors seek safe haven, demand for treasuries rises, pushing down yields. (French and German bond rates are also very low for the same reason, yielding 2.35 percent and an astonishing 1.24 percent respectively.)

But countries at the heart of the crisis are not faring so well. Spain is not borrowing so cheaply, to put it mildly. Its current rate on ten-year bonds is 6.67 percent, more than five times what Germany has to pay to borrow. Spanish banking is near collapse and the country is in deep recession. If Spain were unable to meet its obligations and rescue its banking sector, it would be a much bigger deal than Greece’s problems. At about $1.5 trillion, its economy is five times the size of the Greek economy. Not even Germany (the world’s fourth largest economy) can write a check that big.

All eyes will be on tomorrow’s release of the jobs report for May, at 8:30 a.m., an hour before the market opens. But there are a lot of other economic shoes to drop in the next few weeks. As Bette Davis, playing Margot Channing, said in “All About Eve”: “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Read Less

Obama, Romney Tied in Key Battlegrounds

Today’s NBC/Marist poll finds that President Obama and Mitt Romney are now in a dead heat in three critical battleground states that swung to Obama in 2008:

President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are deadlocked in three key presidential battleground states, according to a new round of NBC/Marist polls.

In Iowa, the two rivals are tied at 44 percent among registered voters, including those who are undecided but leaning toward a candidate. Ten percent of voters in the Hawkeye State are completely undecided.

In Colorado, Obama gets support from 46 percent of registered voters, while Romney gets 45 percent.

And in Nevada, the president is at 48 percent and Romney is at 46 percent.

Read More

Today’s NBC/Marist poll finds that President Obama and Mitt Romney are now in a dead heat in three critical battleground states that swung to Obama in 2008:

President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney are deadlocked in three key presidential battleground states, according to a new round of NBC/Marist polls.

In Iowa, the two rivals are tied at 44 percent among registered voters, including those who are undecided but leaning toward a candidate. Ten percent of voters in the Hawkeye State are completely undecided.

In Colorado, Obama gets support from 46 percent of registered voters, while Romney gets 45 percent.

And in Nevada, the president is at 48 percent and Romney is at 46 percent.

Colorado, Nevada and Iowa are particularly important to the Obama campaign because one of his most viable electoral paths requires him to win all three. Previous polls have shown Obama with an edge in these states, so Romney seems to be gaining ground. And as Jim Geraghty notes at the National Review, this is a tie among registered voters; we can probably assume that Romney’s numbers would be slightly higher among likely voters, which tend to skew more conservative.

At the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar weighs in on why this poll should raise alarms for the Obama campaign:

President Obama’s campaign team has increasingly focused on the Southwest as their must-win battleground region as it seeks to cobble a path to 270 electoral votes. But today’s crop of NBC/Marist state polls suggest that Obama is in as much trouble in swing states like Colorado and Nevada as he is in the more-traditional battlegrounds of Ohio and Florida. …

The electoral map CW has been that Romney has a tougher path to 270 electoral votes since the demographic changes in the Southwest would give the president a slight edge in Colorado and New Mexico, and allow him to compete in Nevada. But if those states are looking as vulnerable as Ohio, Florida and Virginia for the president, Obama has as little room for error as Romney.

Indeed. The Obama campaign’s ostentatious overconfidence earlier this month is looking sillier by the day. This is going to be a close race, even if Obama’s own supporters (and some of his campaign staff) still don’t grasp that yet.

Read Less

Obama’s Feeble Anti-Trump Ad

The Obama campaign wasted no time dropping a new ad that blasts Mitt Romney for attending a fundraiser with Donald Trump tonight. But if anything, the ad supports Jonathan’s earlier point. Teaming up with The Donald isn’t necessarily poisonous for Romney, and it doesn’t make for a very compelling political attack ad (via Mediaite):

Read More

The Obama campaign wasted no time dropping a new ad that blasts Mitt Romney for attending a fundraiser with Donald Trump tonight. But if anything, the ad supports Jonathan’s earlier point. Teaming up with The Donald isn’t necessarily poisonous for Romney, and it doesn’t make for a very compelling political attack ad (via Mediaite):

Confused viewers may come away thinking they just watched a pro-McCain ad spliced with a reel of Trump’s most ridiculous fame-trolling moments. Whatever anti-Romney message there may be gets lost in the mix, so it’s understandable that the Romney campaign would think the $2 million from tonight’s fundraiser is more than worth this mild knuckle-rapping of a video.

The more unfortunate part is that Romney is lending credibility to Trump, and conservatives should be more alarmed about what that might mean for Trump’s political future than Romney’s. As Jonathan wrote earlier, independent voters likely see Trump as too ridiculous to be threatening, and his brand as an eccentric celebrity tycoon is so well-established that it probably blots out his occasional political babbling in most voters’ minds.

Read Less

Obama Needs to Settle on a Message

Today, BuzzFeed reports the unsurprising news that the Obama campaign has lost its notorious confidence after a rough couple of weeks. The reasons are what you’d expect: Joe Biden’s gay marriage slipup, the botched Bain attacks, and the public rebukes from fellow Democrats. But toward the end of the article, Doug Schoen points out the source of the confidence problem – the Obama campaign is heading into the summer and still hasn’t settled on a definite vision for a second term:

Critics inside the party and out, however, warn that Obama has a deeper problem: He hasn’t clearly communicated a simple rationale for a second term.

“They have no clear message or overarching theme other than class warfare and attack politics,” pollster Doug Schoen told BuzzFeed. “They don’t have a vision for the second term. No clear sense as to what the administration is offering for a second term. There is widespread dissatisfaction with both parties and both candidates in primary results [Tuesday] — and no clear idea how Obama is going to unite the county and lead us forward.”

Read More

Today, BuzzFeed reports the unsurprising news that the Obama campaign has lost its notorious confidence after a rough couple of weeks. The reasons are what you’d expect: Joe Biden’s gay marriage slipup, the botched Bain attacks, and the public rebukes from fellow Democrats. But toward the end of the article, Doug Schoen points out the source of the confidence problem – the Obama campaign is heading into the summer and still hasn’t settled on a definite vision for a second term:

Critics inside the party and out, however, warn that Obama has a deeper problem: He hasn’t clearly communicated a simple rationale for a second term.

“They have no clear message or overarching theme other than class warfare and attack politics,” pollster Doug Schoen told BuzzFeed. “They don’t have a vision for the second term. No clear sense as to what the administration is offering for a second term. There is widespread dissatisfaction with both parties and both candidates in primary results [Tuesday] — and no clear idea how Obama is going to unite the county and lead us forward.”

Others have noticed as well. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Obama seems to be focusing more on small-scale objectives, rather than a grand reelection vision. But it also seemed like he was planning to weave these objectives into a larger populist, class warfare message, which he’d been laying the groundwork on since last fall. If that was the plan, it may have to be recalibrated after Democrats publicly balked at Obama’s attacks on Bain Capital this week.

The Romney campaign also seems to have picked up Obama’s vulnerability in this area. His “Day One” ads that outline the steps he’d take on his first day in the White House provide a strong contrast to Obama. What would Obama’s second term look like? At this point, the American people have no idea, and Obama doesn’t seem to either.

Read Less

Cracks in Democratic Unity

At the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar reports that the Obama campaign’s Bain Capital attack exposed the waning power of centrist Democrats in the party, a development that has many Democrats concerned:

Conversations with liberal activists and labor officials reveal an unmistakable hostility toward the pro-business, free-trade, free-market philosophy that was in vogue during the second half of the Clinton administration. …

Moderate Democratic groups and officials, meanwhile, privately fret about the party’s leftward drift and the Obama campaign’s embrace of an aggressively populist message. They’re disappointed that the administration didn’t take the lead advancing the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction proposal, they wish the administration’s focus was on growth over fairness, and they are frustrated with the persistent congressional gridlock. Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank, has been generating analyses underscoring the need for Democrats to appeal to middle-of-the-road voters, to no avail.

Read More

At the National Journal, Josh Kraushaar reports that the Obama campaign’s Bain Capital attack exposed the waning power of centrist Democrats in the party, a development that has many Democrats concerned:

Conversations with liberal activists and labor officials reveal an unmistakable hostility toward the pro-business, free-trade, free-market philosophy that was in vogue during the second half of the Clinton administration. …

Moderate Democratic groups and officials, meanwhile, privately fret about the party’s leftward drift and the Obama campaign’s embrace of an aggressively populist message. They’re disappointed that the administration didn’t take the lead advancing the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction proposal, they wish the administration’s focus was on growth over fairness, and they are frustrated with the persistent congressional gridlock. Third Way, the centrist Democratic think tank, has been generating analyses underscoring the need for Democrats to appeal to middle-of-the-road voters, to no avail.

The problem is, Barack Obama is facing a compelling economic message from his opponent: Mitt Romney spent 25 years building businesses and overhauling companies in the private sector; Obama, in contrast, has spent his entire career in politics and community organizing. As Romney argued effectively in his interview with Time magazine today, there is nothing necessarily wrong with Obama’s career choices. They just don’t prepare someone to deal with an economy that’s speeding toward a fiscal cliff.

In response, Obama has embraced a populist, anti-competition, anti-capitalist message. Not only is it imprudent and unhelpful to stir up those sentiments during tough economic times, it’s also damaging to the Democratic Party’s brand. And it hasn’t been politically effective so far. Several polls today show the race is tightening, and Obama actually appears to be scaring away the working class voters who he’s been trying to win over with his class warfare message. The party that emerged so unified behind Obama in 2008 already seems to be coming undone.

Read Less

Media Taking a Break from Bain-Bashing

After the Obama campaign spent the last week attacking Mitt Romney about his Bain Capital record, the Washington Post reports that they seem to be taking a break from the Bain-bashing. Obama’s two new ad spots are both positive – one is on benefits for veterans and the other is on Medicare. It seems to be a response to Democratic concerns that Obama is abandoning his principles by going “negative” (as if his 2008 campaign never got into the mud).

The Bain attacks have been a disaster for the Obama campaign so far, and some of the problems are self-created. For one, there was clearly very little messaging organization between the campaign, surrogates, and Democratic leaders. And as Peter wrote yesterday, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt’s disastrous Anderson Cooper interview also indicates that the campaign was unprepared for basic questions about the hypocrisy of the Bain attack – maybe because they never thought the normally-friendly media would even ask.

Read More

After the Obama campaign spent the last week attacking Mitt Romney about his Bain Capital record, the Washington Post reports that they seem to be taking a break from the Bain-bashing. Obama’s two new ad spots are both positive – one is on benefits for veterans and the other is on Medicare. It seems to be a response to Democratic concerns that Obama is abandoning his principles by going “negative” (as if his 2008 campaign never got into the mud).

The Bain attacks have been a disaster for the Obama campaign so far, and some of the problems are self-created. For one, there was clearly very little messaging organization between the campaign, surrogates, and Democratic leaders. And as Peter wrote yesterday, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt’s disastrous Anderson Cooper interview also indicates that the campaign was unprepared for basic questions about the hypocrisy of the Bain attack – maybe because they never thought the normally-friendly media would even ask.

This was a major miscalculation on Obama’s part. The media isn’t jumping on Romney’s Bain record because most of the stories in the Obama ads are old news. Not only were they covered extensively during Romney’s senatorial and gubernatorial races, but they also received a lot of attention when Newt Gingrich raised the issue during the primaries. The definitive Bain articles have already been written and rewritten, and the arguments from both sides have already been exhausted. New information will undoubtedly come to light at some point, but until that happens this is all reheated news.

The more interesting story is the infighting in the Democratic Party about Obama’s negative campaigning, and the fact that Obama has accepted large donations from Bain executives while attacking the company. The Obama campaign’s mistake was failing to realize this and prepare for it before it was too late.

Read Less

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.

Read More

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.

Read Less

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.

Read More

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.

Read Less

Tainted Money from Bain Capital?

Last night, Cory Booker attempted to walk back his Bain Capital comments yet again, this time on the Rachel Maddow show. Why is he even bothering? The damage is already done. The left now sees him as a traitor to the class struggle, bought and paid for, as Cornell West is fond of saying, by the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats.

Let’s imagine they’re right, and Booker said what he said because he thinks the Bain attacks are unpopular with his constituents and donors on Wall Street. If that’s the case, shouldn’t Obama take his comments even more seriously? Back in 2008, Obama was the top candidate recipient of donations from the securities and investment industry, raising more than $16 million. So far in 2012, he has raised $2 million. So…maybe Booker has a point.

Still, liberal bloggers are pushing the issue in an effort to run damage control for the Obama campaign. Booker has apparently taken donations from Bain higher-ups over the years, and Think Progress seized on this scandalous scandal as proof of his treachery:

Read More

Last night, Cory Booker attempted to walk back his Bain Capital comments yet again, this time on the Rachel Maddow show. Why is he even bothering? The damage is already done. The left now sees him as a traitor to the class struggle, bought and paid for, as Cornell West is fond of saying, by the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats.

Let’s imagine they’re right, and Booker said what he said because he thinks the Bain attacks are unpopular with his constituents and donors on Wall Street. If that’s the case, shouldn’t Obama take his comments even more seriously? Back in 2008, Obama was the top candidate recipient of donations from the securities and investment industry, raising more than $16 million. So far in 2012, he has raised $2 million. So…maybe Booker has a point.

Still, liberal bloggers are pushing the issue in an effort to run damage control for the Obama campaign. Booker has apparently taken donations from Bain higher-ups over the years, and Think Progress seized on this scandalous scandal as proof of his treachery:

Contributions to his 2002 campaign from venture capitalists, investors, and big Wall Street bankers brought him more than $115,000 for his 2002 campaign. Among those contributing to his campaign were John Connaughton ($2,000), Steve Pagliuca ($2,200), Jonathan Lavine ($1,000) — all of Bain Capital. While the forms are not totally clear, it appears the campaign raised less than $800,000 total, making this a significant percentage.

He and his slate also jointly raised funds for the “Booker Team for Newark” joint committee. They received more than $450,000 for the 2002 campaign from the sector — including a pair of $15,400 contributions from Bain Capital Managing Directors Joshua Bekenstein and Mark Nunnelly. It appears that for the initial campaign and runoff, the slate raised less than $4 million — again making this a sizable chunk.

In all — just in his first mayoral run — Booker’s committees received more than $565,000 from the people he was defending. At least $36,000 of that came from folks at Romney’s old firm.

In other words, they’re going further than just attacking Romney’s tenure at Bain. They’re now claiming the firm itself is so poisonous that even taking money from its executives is enough to taint a politician.

This attack becomes problematic because both Obama and the DNC have taken large contributions from Bain employees, including several of the executives accusatorily cited in the Think Progress article. Bain’s Managing Partner Steve Pagliuca, and Managing Directors Jonathan Lavine and Mark Nunnelly have already given the maximum donation to the Obama campaign and the DNC for the 2012 campaign cycle, each contributing $35,800 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 and $30,800 to the campaign committee.

Lavine has also been one of Obama’s top bundlers, raising over $100,000* for him so far this cycle.

And yet Think Progress is trying to smear Booker by saying these Bain executives kicked his campaign a few thousand dollars each back in 2002?

It doesn’t look good. Some of the Bain executives listed are long-time DNC donors, and what are they getting for it now? A $700 million dollar national campaign against their company? Targeted attacks from Democratic think tank bloggers? That kind of treatment isn’t going to inspire confidence in potential Obama donors watching from the sdelines.

*I initially wrote that Lavine raised over $1 million – that was actually the number of total contributions he’s given to all federal candidates, parties and PACs since 1990, according to OpenSecrets.

Read Less

Obama Launches New Bain Attack Ad

Note to Cory Booker: don’t watch this latest Obama ad while eating lunch. The Obama campaign has released another distorted attack on Bain Capital, this time targeting the company’s acquisition of a textile firm called American Pad and Paper (Ampad):

Read More

Note to Cory Booker: don’t watch this latest Obama ad while eating lunch. The Obama campaign has released another distorted attack on Bain Capital, this time targeting the company’s acquisition of a textile firm called American Pad and Paper (Ampad):

The Ampad story was one of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s most effective attacks against Romney in the 1994 Massachusetts Senate race. Paul Barrett has a detailed long read on the background, but here’s a summary: Bain Capital bought Ampad in 1992, and used the company to buy and restructure struggling paper supply manufacturers. In 1994, Ampad bought a small paper company in Marion, Indiana, with Bain’s approval. As part of its plan to rebuild the flailing business, Ampad cut pay and benefits for the 258 workers. The union initially attempted to negotiate with the new management, but ended up walking away from the table and calling a strike. Ampad responded by laying off the striking workers, several of whom blame Romney for their job losses and have actively tried to foil his political ambitions ever since.

The stories of layoffs may strike an emotional chord with some viewers, but Bain and Ampad aren’t the ones to find fault with here. You could just as easily argue that the union bore responsible for the job losses, because it decided to play chicken with Ampad and call a risky strike instead of negotiating. Or you could argue that the plant’s prior management was to blame for driving the plant to financial instability in the first place.

Here’s another glaring problem: Romney took a leave of absence from Bain in January of 1994, in order to focus on his Senate campaign. Ampad bought the Marion paper company in July of 1994. So not only did Romney have no control over Ampad’s actions, he wasn’t even technically at Bain when the Marion company was acquired.

And as the Wall Street Journal argues today, the liberal critique of Bain is illogical. If Bain really was a “vampire” firm that preyed on companies and then unloaded the carcasses onto unwitting buyers, how in the world could they still be in business? Why would any sane investor buy a company from them? How could their acquisitions still manage to get loans if they were consistently defaulting?

The Obama campaign likely hopes voters don’t ask themselves those questions. And while the campaign may hope the Ampad ad works as well for them as it did for Ted Kennedy, there are reasons to believe it won’t. The laid off workers from Marion also helped campaign against Romney when he ran for governor on a job-creation platform in 2002, with much less success. The story apparently wasn’t as convincing to voters the second time around, years after it originally happened.

Read Less

Obama Campaign’s Fundraising Troubles

April was not a good fundraising month for the Obama campaign or the pro-Obama super PAC. BuzzFeed reports that many of the campaign’s big-dollar donors have already maxed out their contributions, and new donors aren’t lined up to replace them:

Donations to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign declined sharply in April, as many big-dollar contributors hit the legal maximum, a BuzzFeed analysis of Federal Election Commission data shows. …

Most of Obama’s drop is attributable to a decline in contributions of more than $500, which fell by more than $9 million. Many of Obama’s top donors have already hit the legal $2500 maximum to the campaign, which — along with an apparent failure to recruit a new cadre of wealthy supporters — may account for the decline.

Read More

April was not a good fundraising month for the Obama campaign or the pro-Obama super PAC. BuzzFeed reports that many of the campaign’s big-dollar donors have already maxed out their contributions, and new donors aren’t lined up to replace them:

Donations to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign declined sharply in April, as many big-dollar contributors hit the legal maximum, a BuzzFeed analysis of Federal Election Commission data shows. …

Most of Obama’s drop is attributable to a decline in contributions of more than $500, which fell by more than $9 million. Many of Obama’s top donors have already hit the legal $2500 maximum to the campaign, which — along with an apparent failure to recruit a new cadre of wealthy supporters — may account for the decline.

The bigger issue is that the donor pool isn’t being replenished. Obama has attended a record number of fundraisers, so it’s hard to chalk this up to a lack of outreach. More likely, as Andrew Malcolm writes, is that donors (and some bundlers) simply aren’t as enthusiastic as they were in 2008. Collecting the money takes a lot more time and effort:

But the decline appeared to confirm rumors and anecdotal evidence that Obama’s large-sum donors were less enthusiastic this time around and holding back the checks or reducing their size. One California Democrat said bundlers, who simply stacked the free-flowing checks in 2008, were now having to convince many to give.

And it’s not just the president’s campaign that had a down month in April. The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA had its worst fundraising month as well, only collecting nine donations of $10,000 or more, according to Politico. Another bad sign: several of these donations were from labor unions, which already play a similar role to super PACs and likely would have already used that money for their own Obama reelection efforts anyway.

The fact that big-money donors are maxing out their Obama campaign contributions wouldn’t matter as much if they were subsequently pouring their money into the super PAC. So far, it doesn’t look like they are. Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage might help open some wallets in Hollywood and elsewhere. But his attacks on Romney’s career at Bain Capital could also present a problem for him with Wall Street donors. These are the people who would normally be prime targets for recruitment by Priorities USA, but it’s very possible that they don’t want their money funding anti-Bain attack ads.

Read Less

Obama’s Mask Continues to Slip

I wanted to add a few thoughts to Jonathan’s post, with which I entirely concur.

The CBS News/New York Times poll, if only because of the source, must be creating panic at Obama re-election headquarters. So afraid of the results are Team Obama that campaign officials are actually attacking the poll — whose sample of registered voters is weighted in favor of Democrats (36 percent Democrats, 30 percent Republicans, and 34 percent independents) – as “significantly biased” in favor of Republicans. Of course it is. And Republicans are the ones who are supposed to be members of a “faith-based community” instead of the “reality-based” one.

As bad as the results are — showing support for Romney among women to be higher than support for Obama among women — my hunch is that what’s really driving the president crazy is that 67 percent of Americans think Obama’s stand on same-sex marriage was done mostly for political reasons rather than principled ones.

Read More

I wanted to add a few thoughts to Jonathan’s post, with which I entirely concur.

The CBS News/New York Times poll, if only because of the source, must be creating panic at Obama re-election headquarters. So afraid of the results are Team Obama that campaign officials are actually attacking the poll — whose sample of registered voters is weighted in favor of Democrats (36 percent Democrats, 30 percent Republicans, and 34 percent independents) – as “significantly biased” in favor of Republicans. Of course it is. And Republicans are the ones who are supposed to be members of a “faith-based community” instead of the “reality-based” one.

As bad as the results are — showing support for Romney among women to be higher than support for Obama among women — my hunch is that what’s really driving the president crazy is that 67 percent of Americans think Obama’s stand on same-sex marriage was done mostly for political reasons rather than principled ones.

President Obama, after all, has presented himself to us – and seems to fancy himself to be – a man of rare political integrity and courage. The narrative they would have us believe is that Obama is an individual driven by the highest and purist motivations. He doesn’t simply want our support; he wants our reverence, our respect, and our awe. It helps explain the cult-like nature of the 2008 campaign.

So for Obama to be seen as just another scheming politician must really grate at him.

The truth, of course, is Obama is just that. Even for a politician, his stands on same-sex marriage – he was for it, then against it, then neutral on it, before he once again came out in favor of it – have been transparently cynical. And for Vice President Biden of all people to receive credit for forcing Obama to embrace same-sex marriage has, as we know, enraged Obama’s top aides.

Obama’s mask continues to slip. He is nothing like the image he created (post-ideological, non-partisan, high-minded, inspirational, unifying). He is, it turns out, a very liberal, rather ruthless, and deeply cynical politician. The fact that he is these things doesn’t bother him in the least. But the fact that more and more Americans are aware he’s these things bothers him quite a lot.

Read Less

Obama Auto Czar Defends Romney

The Obama campaign has a new 2-minute ad out, set to air in five battleground states, that accuses Mitt Romney of closing down a steel company and throwing people out of their jobs in order to make a buck for Bain Capital. It shows images of displaced workers, many of them at the end of their working careers, who are, not surprisingly, unhappy with what happened. It’s tough to lose a job, especially one you’ve held for a long time.

The ad is, of course, unadulterated demagogy. Never mind that the closing took place in 2001, two years after Romney left Bain Capital. Never mind that 2001 was a terrible year for the American steel industry. Never mind that ten percent of the jobs in America disappear every year as the economy endlessly remakes itself through the process of creative destruction that makes capitalism work.

Read More

The Obama campaign has a new 2-minute ad out, set to air in five battleground states, that accuses Mitt Romney of closing down a steel company and throwing people out of their jobs in order to make a buck for Bain Capital. It shows images of displaced workers, many of them at the end of their working careers, who are, not surprisingly, unhappy with what happened. It’s tough to lose a job, especially one you’ve held for a long time.

The ad is, of course, unadulterated demagogy. Never mind that the closing took place in 2001, two years after Romney left Bain Capital. Never mind that 2001 was a terrible year for the American steel industry. Never mind that ten percent of the jobs in America disappear every year as the economy endlessly remakes itself through the process of creative destruction that makes capitalism work.

Indeed, the ad is so shamelessly dishonest that it has produced a surprising critic, Steve Rattner. He is Obama’s former “auto czar,” who presided over the administration’s remaking of General Motors and Chrysler, a process that cost tens of thousands of jobs, as dealerships across the country were closed down by order of the Obama administration.

“I think the ad is unfair. Mitt Romney made a mistake ever talking about the fact that he created 100,000 jobs. Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to create profits for his investors, most of whom were pension funds, endowments and foundations. It did it superbly, acting within the rules and acting very responsibly and was a leading firm,” Ratner said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday.

“So I do think to pick out an example of somebody who lost their job unfortunately, this is part of capitalism, this is part of life. And I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about,” he said.

Rattner, to be sure, made his considerable fortune in a private equity firm not dissimilar to Bain Capital, called Quadrangle Group, and so might be inclined to see things from Romney’s point of view. But this is exactly right. Corporations are not WPA projects; they don’t exist to provide jobs but to maximize profits. Indeed, management has a fiduciary obligation to the stockholders to do exactly that. The theory of businesses as job providers was tried, in effect, in the Soviet Union, which always had a zero unemployment rate. Except for the highly privileged elite at the top, it produced nothing but poverty and a stunning lack of technological innovation.

Romney in particular and Republicans in general need to stop apologizing for advocating capitalism. It is what has made this country so extraordinarily rich, both for the Steve Rattners and Mitt Romneys and for the average American family as well, which lives at a level of affluence undreamed of even two generations ago.

Read Less

Attacks Begin on Romney’s Bain Record

The Obama campaign is starting to roll out its attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, including the predictable emotional testimony from workers who were laid off by companies Bain was trying to save from collapse. The campaign’s newest ad is powerful, though it’s already old news if you followed Newt Gingrich’s nearly identical attacks on Romney during the primaries.

But while Romney seemed blindsided by Gingrich’s (unsuccessful) anti-Bain assault, he’s clearly ready for this attack line from Obama. There are already doubts being raised about the facts in the ad, which implies that Romney was at Bain when GST Steel went under. But as the Christian Science Monitor reports, he had already left the company:

Plus, the ad elides some facts: Romney left Bain shortly after it acquired GST Steel, though he continued to receive profits from Bain payouts. He wasn’t around when GST went under. Also, it was an era when cheap foreign imports were hitting U.S. steel firms hard, in general. It’s not clear whether GST would have survived in any case.

And some conservatives say the Obama team rolled out this line of attack too early. It gives the Romney camp plenty of time to respond prior to November.

Read More

The Obama campaign is starting to roll out its attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital, including the predictable emotional testimony from workers who were laid off by companies Bain was trying to save from collapse. The campaign’s newest ad is powerful, though it’s already old news if you followed Newt Gingrich’s nearly identical attacks on Romney during the primaries.

But while Romney seemed blindsided by Gingrich’s (unsuccessful) anti-Bain assault, he’s clearly ready for this attack line from Obama. There are already doubts being raised about the facts in the ad, which implies that Romney was at Bain when GST Steel went under. But as the Christian Science Monitor reports, he had already left the company:

Plus, the ad elides some facts: Romney left Bain shortly after it acquired GST Steel, though he continued to receive profits from Bain payouts. He wasn’t around when GST went under. Also, it was an era when cheap foreign imports were hitting U.S. steel firms hard, in general. It’s not clear whether GST would have survived in any case.

And some conservatives say the Obama team rolled out this line of attack too early. It gives the Romney camp plenty of time to respond prior to November.

The Romney campaign also has the advantage of a good counter-argument against Obama, who, as it so happens, also ordered GM and Chrysler to close thousands of dealerships during the auto bailout. Jim Geraghty writes that the Obama campaign may have a hard time pushing back on this:

I’m sure Obama fans will insist, “but the layoffs under our guy are completely different!” They’ll insist that in order to preserve the entire institution during a time when its continued operation was jeopardized, it was necessary to lay off certain branches and employees… which is, of course, precisely what Bain Capital was doing, or at least what the management of Bain Capital believed it was doing.

The line between heartless, cruel sacrifices of hardworking Americans to corporate greed and necessary sacrifices to ensure continued viability of a company in a competitive market is often in the eye of the beholder.

This could be why the Obama campaign is rolling out the Bain attack so early. They probably realize that Romney has a pretty strong counterattack, and know the anti-Bain argument will only get weaker as the election season progresses and Romney becomes more of a known entity. Right now, Obama hopes he can put that “Romney is a callous rich guy” image in the minds of voters before Romney is able to define himself to the public.

But this was also supposed to be one of Obama’s strongest lines of attack against Romney. The fact that Obama’s playing this card so early in the election, when many voters aren’t even paying attention yet, doesn’t seem to bode well for his campaign. He’s been able to successfully dominate the news cycle with one distraction issue after another, but how many more tricks does he have until that bag is empty?

Read Less

Will Gay Marriage Endorsement Help Obama in Hollywood?

Michael Hastings reports on President Obama’s waning support in Tinseltown:

Over the past week, I’d spoken to more than a dozen Hollywood players, and all had a litany of criticisms. “I’ll write the check,” one top producer, whose films have made over a billion at the box office, told me. “But I’m not going to bother voting for him.” Another studio exec—in a land where the hard driven deal is cultural requirement —wondered if the president’s penchant for compromise meant he had, in the parlance of our times, “no balls.”

A number of other actors and producers lamented how they’d gone so far as to donate and volunteer for Obama in 2008—and now, disgusted, they were planning on doing neither this time around. They had bought what Obama was selling for four years—about the wars, about Gitmo, about changing things in Washington, about the hope and the change—and Obama had let them down. Even Matt Damon—one of the president’s most stalwart celebrity supporters—famously said last year he was disappointed.

Read More

Michael Hastings reports on President Obama’s waning support in Tinseltown:

Over the past week, I’d spoken to more than a dozen Hollywood players, and all had a litany of criticisms. “I’ll write the check,” one top producer, whose films have made over a billion at the box office, told me. “But I’m not going to bother voting for him.” Another studio exec—in a land where the hard driven deal is cultural requirement —wondered if the president’s penchant for compromise meant he had, in the parlance of our times, “no balls.”

A number of other actors and producers lamented how they’d gone so far as to donate and volunteer for Obama in 2008—and now, disgusted, they were planning on doing neither this time around. They had bought what Obama was selling for four years—about the wars, about Gitmo, about changing things in Washington, about the hope and the change—and Obama had let them down. Even Matt Damon—one of the president’s most stalwart celebrity supporters—famously said last year he was disappointed.

Obviously, the Obama campaign is hoping the early gay marriage endorsement will help energize big Democratic donors who were still sitting on the sidelines, particularly Hollywood liberals. And the timing couldn’t be better. Obama has a much-publicized fundraiser tonight at George Clooney’s house, and early next week he attends a fundraiser with Ricky Martin that’s reportedly aimed at donors in the gay community.

The question is, will his announcement be enough to coax out the checkbooks? Obama’s gay marriage endorsement has no real practical effect, and his policies haven’t changed. He still maintains it’s a state-by-state issue. And as others have noted, he only announced his position publicly after days of political pressure. Fortunately for Obama, Hollywood doesn’t tend to be well-informed on these issues. And that will definitely work to his advantage as he tries to woo back these donors.

Read Less