Commentary Magazine


Topic: Obama Election 2012

Hot Mic Attack Ad: You Only Run Twice

President Obama’s hot mic slip-up with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is bound to provide endless attack ad fodder for Republicans, but it’s going to be hard to top this ad out today from American Crossroads:

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President Obama’s hot mic slip-up with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is bound to provide endless attack ad fodder for Republicans, but it’s going to be hard to top this ad out today from American Crossroads:

At the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer can’t imagine why Obama thinks he owes Vladimir Putin any “flexibility” on missile defense after the way Russia has tampered with U.S. policy goals in Iran and Syria, and the unnecessary concessions the U.S. already has made on Eastern European missile defense and START. And Obama’s hot mic comments certainly send a detrimental message to our allies:

Can you imagine the kind of pressure a reelected Obama will put on Israel, the kind of anxiety he will induce from Georgia to the Persian Gulf, the nervousness among our most loyal East European friends who, having been left out on a limb by Obama once before, are now wondering what new flexibility Obama will show Putin — the man who famously proclaimed that the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was Russia’s loss of its Soviet empire?

They don’t know. We don’t know. We didn’t even know this was coming — until the mic was left open. Only Putin was to know. “I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” Medvedev assured Obama.

That’s the most troubling part – that we wouldn’t even have known if there hadn’t been a technological slip-up. How concerned you are about the hot mic moment probably depends on whether you think this was a one-time, off-the-cuff remark or a glimpse into Obama’s mindset on foreign policy.

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The Problem With Obama’s Documentary

Via HotAir.com, here is President Obama’s 17-minute campaign documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled.”

It’s slickly produced, as one might expect, but I found it to be on balance ineffective. For one thing, it’s probably worth pointing out that Obama’s predecessor had a large role in what the Obama campaign claims are its greatest successes, from TARP to the auto bailout to killing Osama bin Laden.

For another, some of the claims in the documentary are (unintentionally) amusing, including that Obama, upon taking office, “would not dwell in blame.”

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Via HotAir.com, here is President Obama’s 17-minute campaign documentary, “The Road We’ve Traveled.”

It’s slickly produced, as one might expect, but I found it to be on balance ineffective. For one thing, it’s probably worth pointing out that Obama’s predecessor had a large role in what the Obama campaign claims are its greatest successes, from TARP to the auto bailout to killing Osama bin Laden.

For another, some of the claims in the documentary are (unintentionally) amusing, including that Obama, upon taking office, “would not dwell in blame.”

If there is one consistent theme to the Obama presidency, it’s that he’s sought to blame his failures on others: George W. Bush, earthquakes, tsunamis, Europe, the Arab Spring, ATMs, Wall Street, Republicans, the Tea Party, Fox News, millioinaires, billionaires, conservative talk radio, and so forth and so on.

There are also references to Obama’s willingness to make “tough decisions” and “face crises that others would avoid” (presumably the producers have in mind Obama’s refusal to confront our entitlement crisis, which is fueling our debt crisis, and to fiercely attack those who do). The documentary claims Obama has brought the Iraq war to a “responsible end” (the American withdrawal from Iraq was mishandled and threatens to undo the progress that had been made).

Yet I came away from watching this documentary thinking if this is the best they can do, the president’s opponent in the fall should be encouraged.

The main emotion the producers of “The Road We’ve Traveled” are hoping to tap into is pity. We’re told Obama inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression (Ronald Reagan actually inherited a sicker economy than Obama did) and took steps that prevented the ship from hitting the rocks. In fact, though I realize this isn’t supposed to be said in polite company, it was George W. Bush who did the heaviest lifting when it came to taking emergency measures that kept the economy from collapsing and credit from freezing.

What’s most striking, though, is how little Obama has to show for his efforts. The documentary focuses almost exclusively on inputs, not outputs; on legislation passed, not successes attained; on narrative, not empirical progress.

In the film we don’t hear anything about the deficit or the debt, the unemployment rate, economic growth, our standard of living, the housing crisis, bending the health care cost curve down, poverty, America’s credit rating, et cetera. That is because on these crucial measures, Obama has no story to tell, no successes to cite, nothing to look back to with pride or forward to with hope.

Obama’s tenure has been, by any reasonable standard, a failure. Not even a Tom Hanks-narrated documentary can change that.

 

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Biden: Obama Courageously Risked His Reelection to Kill Bin Laden

President Obama’s decision to order the Seal Team Six raid against Osama bin Laden may seem like a no-brainer in hindsight, but in reality the president took on a lot of risk: American lives, a diplomatic or military conflict with Pakistan, and a failure to kill bin Laden that could have resulted in an international propaganda victory for al-Qaeda.

These are the disaster scenarios that typically come to mind when a White House official praises the president for his courage during the raid. But according to Vice President Biden, Obama’s real act of valor was ordering the operation despite the catastrophic possibility that a failed mission could tarnish his reelection chances:

“This guy’s got a backbone like a ramrod,” Biden said of Obama, according to the White House pool report. He cited the success of the military mission to capture Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last summer as a decisive moment for his presidency.

“He said, ‘Go,’ knowing his presidency was on the line,” Biden said of Obama. “Had he failed in that audacious mission, he would’ve been a one-term president.”

The Obama campaign has highlighted the Navy SEAL mission that resulted in the death of bin Laden as one of the top accomplishments of the president’s term. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who hosted the fundraiser at his Georgetown home, summed up Obama’s first term using a favorite line of Biden’s: “Osama bin Laden is dead. General Motors is alive.”

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President Obama’s decision to order the Seal Team Six raid against Osama bin Laden may seem like a no-brainer in hindsight, but in reality the president took on a lot of risk: American lives, a diplomatic or military conflict with Pakistan, and a failure to kill bin Laden that could have resulted in an international propaganda victory for al-Qaeda.

These are the disaster scenarios that typically come to mind when a White House official praises the president for his courage during the raid. But according to Vice President Biden, Obama’s real act of valor was ordering the operation despite the catastrophic possibility that a failed mission could tarnish his reelection chances:

“This guy’s got a backbone like a ramrod,” Biden said of Obama, according to the White House pool report. He cited the success of the military mission to capture Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last summer as a decisive moment for his presidency.

“He said, ‘Go,’ knowing his presidency was on the line,” Biden said of Obama. “Had he failed in that audacious mission, he would’ve been a one-term president.”

The Obama campaign has highlighted the Navy SEAL mission that resulted in the death of bin Laden as one of the top accomplishments of the president’s term. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who hosted the fundraiser at his Georgetown home, summed up Obama’s first term using a favorite line of Biden’s: “Osama bin Laden is dead. General Motors is alive.”

If there’s one thing you’d hope the Commander in Chief isn’t preoccupied with during such a critical moment, it’s the risk to his own reelection. And the fact that Biden touts this as if it were the president’s most selfless act of courage really tells you where the Obama administration’s primary concerns lie. This White House has injected election politics into nearly every issue it’s tackled during the past three years, including national security. They’ve practically been running for reelection since the moment Obama was sworn in.

Which is yet another reason why America’s enemies don’t take Obama’s warnings seriously. When doubts have been raised about whether Obama has the backbone to take military action against Iran, his supporters point to the bin Laden raid as evidence of his fortitude. But if the White House was concerned about election-year fallout from the bin Laden raid – an operation that was risky, but was supported almost unanimously by the American public – what are the chances Obama would take on an even riskier mission that has less public support?

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Unions Seek Monopoly on Political Money

The Hill reports on a new campaign by liberal groups and labor unions, which seeks to expose companies that donate to super PACs and nonprofits in the lead-up to the presidential election:

Gathered Monday at the Washington headquarters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the groups issued a call to arms for the 2012 campaign, vowing to aggressively challenge companies that contribute to super-PACs and 501(c) nonprofit groups. …

Representatives of the coalition, which includes Common Cause, Health Care for America Now, Public Citizen and Occupy, among others, said they’d push for legislation and regulations that would require companies to disclose all of their political spending. …

Americans United for Change, a liberal group that has received labor backing, plans to offer a $25,000 cash reward to the first whistleblower who can prove a company has donated to a nonprofit without disclosing it.

“We’re going to challenge those donations. We’re going to challenge efforts to hide donations through (c)4s and (c)6s,” de Blasio said, referring to nonprofit groups.

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The Hill reports on a new campaign by liberal groups and labor unions, which seeks to expose companies that donate to super PACs and nonprofits in the lead-up to the presidential election:

Gathered Monday at the Washington headquarters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the groups issued a call to arms for the 2012 campaign, vowing to aggressively challenge companies that contribute to super-PACs and 501(c) nonprofit groups. …

Representatives of the coalition, which includes Common Cause, Health Care for America Now, Public Citizen and Occupy, among others, said they’d push for legislation and regulations that would require companies to disclose all of their political spending. …

Americans United for Change, a liberal group that has received labor backing, plans to offer a $25,000 cash reward to the first whistleblower who can prove a company has donated to a nonprofit without disclosing it.

“We’re going to challenge those donations. We’re going to challenge efforts to hide donations through (c)4s and (c)6s,” de Blasio said, referring to nonprofit groups.

Note that pretty much all of these groups have labor union ties. Even the Occupy Wall Street representative at the meeting was reportedly the point-person for OWS’s big anti-Verizon march coordinated with Big Labor last October.

There’s a good reason for the union involvement. At Power Line, John Hinderaker flags a chart of the top 25 donors to political campaigns from 1989 to 2012, compiled by Open Secrets, and finds a trend:

That’s right: you have to get all the way to number nineteen to find a donor who gives primarily to Republicans. Not only that, of the top 20 donors, 12 are unions. Special interest money overwhelmingly favors the Democrats, and the unions and their left-wing allies want to keep it that way. Their desire to maintain their near-monopoly is understandable, I guess, but it is hard to understand how they can seriously object to companies’ joining them in the political money game.

Unions sink enormous resources into getting Democratic politicians elected, and they’re not thrilled to have competition from the other side. Today, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry went on MSNBC to talk about the union’s plan to spend $400 million on helping Obama’s reelection campaign. How do groups like that think they have any standing to complain about big money in politics?

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More Evidence Obama is Beatable

According to conventional media wisdom, President Obama is likely to cruise to reelection next November. And when you’re just looking at the disaster of a GOP field, it’s easy to believe that. Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum seems to have what it takes to win the White House.

The thing is, Americans don’t like Obama either. His average Gallup approval rating for February was 45 percent, and a full 50 percent of Americans believe his presidency has been a failure:

Obama’s job approval in February exceeds the lows seen last summer, when his monthly approval rating dipped to 41 percent from August through October. That followed a slide from 50 percent in May after the successful U.S. military mission in Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. However, despite the recent improvement in his score, it has yet to recover to the level seen at the start of 2011, when 49 percent approved and 43 percent disapproved.

Apart from the rally in approval after the bin Laden mission, the last time Obama’s monthly approval rating averaged 50 percent or better was two years ago, in February 2010.

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According to conventional media wisdom, President Obama is likely to cruise to reelection next November. And when you’re just looking at the disaster of a GOP field, it’s easy to believe that. Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum seems to have what it takes to win the White House.

The thing is, Americans don’t like Obama either. His average Gallup approval rating for February was 45 percent, and a full 50 percent of Americans believe his presidency has been a failure:

Obama’s job approval in February exceeds the lows seen last summer, when his monthly approval rating dipped to 41 percent from August through October. That followed a slide from 50 percent in May after the successful U.S. military mission in Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. However, despite the recent improvement in his score, it has yet to recover to the level seen at the start of 2011, when 49 percent approved and 43 percent disapproved.

Apart from the rally in approval after the bin Laden mission, the last time Obama’s monthly approval rating averaged 50 percent or better was two years ago, in February 2010.

To put this in an historical context, every president who has won a second term (since Gallup began polling) has had an average approval rating above 50 percent by the February before the election. According to Gallup, “no elected president from Dwight Eisenhower through George W. Bush saw his approval rating drop below 50 percent for this long leading up to his re-election year.”

There’s a dramatic disconnect between this reality and the confidence we’re seeing from Democrats, who believe they already have next November wrapped up. With independents saying Obama’s presidency has been a failure, 53 percent to 42 percent, the president has a long way to go toward convincing Americans he deserves a second term. But if his own party thinks his reelection is already a given, Obama’s may have a hard time raising money, turning out volunteers and getting supporters out to the polls.

Republicans have spent the last year vetting and attacking each other, while Obama has been able to stay out of the fray. Despite that, his approval rating has shown little improvement. Once the general election begins and the GOP candidate gets to fully focus on attacking Obama’s record, things can only get worse for him.

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