Commentary Magazine


Topic: Stephanie Cutter

Cutter in Complete Meltdown on Libya

This afternoon, the Obama campaign’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter melted down not once, but twice on national television. On a day the Obama campaign anticipated discussing the vice presidential debate, set to take place tonight at 9 p.m., they were instead issuing clarifications and creating a media firestorm.

While on CNN discussing the September 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Cutter remarked, ”The entire reason that this [the Benghazi terror attack] has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — it’s a big part of their stump speech, and it’s reckless and irresponsible.”

Read More

This afternoon, the Obama campaign’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter melted down not once, but twice on national television. On a day the Obama campaign anticipated discussing the vice presidential debate, set to take place tonight at 9 p.m., they were instead issuing clarifications and creating a media firestorm.

While on CNN discussing the September 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Cutter remarked, ”The entire reason that this [the Benghazi terror attack] has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — it’s a big part of their stump speech, and it’s reckless and irresponsible.”

BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski immediately pounced on the remarks, paraphrasing Cutter on Twitter. From there, the story exploded as liberals and conservatives felt the need to remind Cutter and the Obama campaign that the outrage over Libya is centered on the deaths of four Americans, including the first ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. The gross negligence of those tasked with ensuring security was the topic of a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday, which Alana followed closely. The lack of security, in addition to the Obama administration’s flatfooted response, has indeed been a topic of conversation — for journalists and politicians alike.

Many, including myself, expected an immediate apology and perhaps even a resignation after Cutter’s remarks, however she soon doubled down in a written release to BuzzFeed and in person to Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, and later in a furious interview to Fox News’s Bret Baier.

It appears that Cutter was expressing the campaign’s belief that Romney’s stated concerns over national security are solely attributable to his desire to be elected as President Obama’s replacement. In the statement issued to BuzzFeed Cutter stated,

From the time of the attack in Libya, Mitt Romney has stopped at nothing to politicize these events. While Mitt Romney, Congressman Ryan, and their Republican allies in Congress have turned a national tragedy into a political circus, the President has been focused on getting the facts, finding the terrorists responsible, and bringing them to justice. Our nation’s security and how we handle the transitions in the Middle East and North Africa are critical issues in this campaign, and just 26 days before an election, the American people deserve real ideas and specifics from Mitt Romney.

The Obama campaign, which has spent the better part of the last week focusing on Big Bird, would like to get serious on issues of policy and leave unsaid developing matters of national security. It appears in Obama’s world immediately placing blame for a terror attack on a video next to nobody has seen constitutes “getting the facts” while Romney’s remarks about not apologizing for America in the face of a terror attack were merely politicization.

In job interviews, candidates are asked about their prior performance before being made an offer. This election is a job interview, and Obama’s performance as president is critical to his candidacy. Obama cannot seriously expect Americans to ignore his administration’s actions both before and after September 11 in Benghazi, nor can he ask Romney to leave his record unmentioned. In the face of developing issues of national security Romney and his surrogates have taken the right line with critiques of the president’s policies and actions without trying to drive from the back seat. Cutter’s assertions that Romney explain his own plans would be incredibly inappropriate for a presidential candidate, undermining a sitting president in the midst of a crisis, however self-created.

Read Less

Dems Okay With Any Source, Even Beijing, that Trashes Romney

At their convention last week, the Democrats went out of their way to treat Mitt Romney’s tough talk about Russia as evidence of his unsuitability for the White House. But at least when John Kerry was mocking the GOP candidate, he didn’t cite Vladimir Putin. But when the deputy campaign manager of the president’s re-election effort sought to take a shot at the Republican over his attitude toward China, her source was the official state news agency of the Chinese Communist Party.

Stephanie Cutter has been a prominent spokesperson for the Democrats on cable news channels this year, but she may be taking a slightly lower profile in the future as a result of a tweet in which she linked to a Reuters story that quoted at length an editorial in the Xinhua service that serves as the mouthpiece for the dictatorial Beijing regime. According to Xinhua, Romney is a hypocritical trade war-mongerer. One would think that an insult directed at an American from such a source would be considered to be a badge of honor by most voters, Democrat or Republican, but in the current atmosphere of partisan warfare, Cutter and the Obama campaign seem to think that anyone who has anything bad to say about Romney deserves a pat on the back or at least a re-tweet.

Read More

At their convention last week, the Democrats went out of their way to treat Mitt Romney’s tough talk about Russia as evidence of his unsuitability for the White House. But at least when John Kerry was mocking the GOP candidate, he didn’t cite Vladimir Putin. But when the deputy campaign manager of the president’s re-election effort sought to take a shot at the Republican over his attitude toward China, her source was the official state news agency of the Chinese Communist Party.

Stephanie Cutter has been a prominent spokesperson for the Democrats on cable news channels this year, but she may be taking a slightly lower profile in the future as a result of a tweet in which she linked to a Reuters story that quoted at length an editorial in the Xinhua service that serves as the mouthpiece for the dictatorial Beijing regime. According to Xinhua, Romney is a hypocritical trade war-mongerer. One would think that an insult directed at an American from such a source would be considered to be a badge of honor by most voters, Democrat or Republican, but in the current atmosphere of partisan warfare, Cutter and the Obama campaign seem to think that anyone who has anything bad to say about Romney deserves a pat on the back or at least a re-tweet.

According to Politico, Cutter isn’t retreating on this point and was quoted as doubling down on Xinhua’s accusation that Romney became wealthy from dealing with China and therefore can’t be trusted to get tough with them over trade violations.

This is a weak argument since virtually anyone involved in business in these days is in some degree connected with China. If Cutter’s rules were to apply, no one, save perhaps for community activists and lawyers, would be eligible to discuss relations with China.

But there is something particularly unseemly about a representative of the president’s campaign quoting a Communist rag as an authority about Romney’s position on China. It’s pretty much the moral equivalent of Jimmy Carter’s campaign quoting Pravda as to the inadvisability of Americans voting for Ronald Reagan.

Cutter’s citing of Xinhua tells us a lot about her lack of understanding how China is governed. The wire service is not a source of independent news or opinion but slavishly reflects the views of an authoritarian state that is intolerant of opposing views either at home or abroad.

Just as Russia really is a geopolitical foe of the United States (though not the only or principle one), Romney’s straight talk about China is needed. The Obama administration has spent four years showing us how little they care about human rights. But in one tweet, Stephanie Cutter illustrated the moral blindness that is at the core of their indifference.

Read Less

New Defense of Obama Tactics: Blame Bush

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, to his credit, can’t quite bring himself to equate the Obama campaign’s insinuations that Mitt Romney is culpable in the death of innocents with the Romney campaign’s attacks on President Obama’s controversial welfare executive order. But he does happen to have another justification of the Obama campaign’s rhetorical excesses, and it’s one that should come naturally to Obama: it’s all Bush’s fault.

“What’s different this time,” Milbank writes, “is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success.” And what finally pushed the Democrats over the edge was the defeat of John Kerry. Milbank writes that Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, who was caught making false claims about the now-infamous murder ad and her role in orchestrating that line of attack, was especially affected by that election. He writes:

Eight years ago, Cutter was a staffer on the Kerry campaign when the candidate was undone by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on his war record. Cutter, like other Democrats, learned a hard truth back then: Umbrage doesn’t win elections. Ruthlessness does.

Read More

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, to his credit, can’t quite bring himself to equate the Obama campaign’s insinuations that Mitt Romney is culpable in the death of innocents with the Romney campaign’s attacks on President Obama’s controversial welfare executive order. But he does happen to have another justification of the Obama campaign’s rhetorical excesses, and it’s one that should come naturally to Obama: it’s all Bush’s fault.

“What’s different this time,” Milbank writes, “is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success.” And what finally pushed the Democrats over the edge was the defeat of John Kerry. Milbank writes that Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter, who was caught making false claims about the now-infamous murder ad and her role in orchestrating that line of attack, was especially affected by that election. He writes:

Eight years ago, Cutter was a staffer on the Kerry campaign when the candidate was undone by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on his war record. Cutter, like other Democrats, learned a hard truth back then: Umbrage doesn’t win elections. Ruthlessness does.

Now, Milbank gets much about the Kerry election wrong–and as Jonathan wrote, he isn’t the only one to try to use the Swift Boat veterans against the GOP this time–but he’s right in his conclusion: negative campaigning tends to be effective, and the Obama campaign is far more concerned with winning than adhering to honest electioneering. It may be true that Cutter learned from the Kerry debacle to turn this campaign into a carnival of obscene personal attacks and extraordinarily irresponsible unfounded accusations—but that’s not the case with the president.

As Victor Davis Hanson wrote at NRO, Obama knows the “Chicago way” works because he’s never run any other kind of campaign:

Obama demolished his U.S. Senate Democratic primary rival through leaked divorce records. He demolished his initial Republican rival through leaked divorce records. When he got through with Hillary Clinton, the liberal former first lady and U.S. senator had transmogrified into a prevaricating hack and veritable racist, as Bill Clinton lamented the race card being played. John McCain released his health records and his general dismal ranking at Annapolis, leading to a false narrative that he was naturally inattentive and reckless, and scarcely hale, while Obama released neither his medical nor his college records; as Sarah Palin — heretofore a reformist governor of Alaska who in bipartisan fashion had fought special interests — was reduced to a caricature of an uninformed poor (and trashy) mom. All of the above transpired while Barack Obama ran as a “reformer” and proponent of “civility,” who vowed to run a “transparent” campaign of full disclosure, and to leave the old “petty” and “gotcha” politics behind.

The fiction that Democrats like to tell themselves about the 2004 Bush-Kerry election grows out of their refusal to admit what everybody knew: Kerry was an absurd candidate, produced by a bizarre primary season. In the end, they nominated for president a man who made a big show of tossing away his Vietnam War ribbons and smearing his fellow soldiers—to challenge a wartime president, no less. To compensate for this, that nomination took place, as Andrew Ferguson wrote in COMMENTARY, “in a hall festooned with so much military paraphernalia and overrun by so many saluting veterans that you might have thought you were watching a Latin American coup.”

It is also the case that Kerry didn’t think much of the American people he was asking to lead, and it showed. In one of Matt Taibbi’s columns about the 2004 election, he writes that he noticed Kerry was using a quote from George Bernard Shaw in his speeches,

but he always introduces it by saying, “He (Ted Kennedy) quoted the poet who said…” When I asked a Kerry spokesman why Kerry didn’t just say the poet’s name out loud, he told me that the average voter might be confused by the mention of too many academic references.

It turned out that the “average voter” was smarter than Kerry gave him credit for—smart enough to vote against Kerry. The sooner the Democrats make peace with Kerry’s failed candidacy, the better. There are many things Obama was able to blame on Bush, but the negativity of this election isn’t one of them.

Read Less