Obama’s critics have said that he can’t run a campaign based on his achievements, and he proved them right today with a new video ad. Entitled “Forward” – which is also the latest in a string of Obama campaign slogans – the ad’s basic message is “things aren’t great, but they could be worse, so let’s stop focusing on the past.” At the end, there’s an unimpressive scrolling list of Obama’s supposed presidential accomplishments:
Don’t get me wrong, the video is well done, and will probably be convincing to certain people who badly want to believe their 2008 vote didn’t go to waste. But the list of achievements is comically weak, mixing a sparse number of actual accomplishments (killing Osama bin Laden, ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) with vague or insignificant ones (“protected reproductive rights,” “fuel efficiency standards doubling” by 2025).
In the ad, Obama boasts that 4.2 million jobs have been saved, despite the 4.4 million jobs lost under President Bush. But he fails to mention that 4.3 million jobs were also lost during his first 13 months in office, and the unemployment rate is higher now than it was when he was inaugurated. Even the tax cuts for 160 million Americans that he mentions in the ad are really short-term payroll tax cut extensions that evade necessary long-term tax reform. And the U.S. oil production that’s at an “8-year high” is due in no part to Obama’s policies, which have been to impede domestic oil production whenever possible.
Some of his supposed accomplishments include a hodgepodge of random, low-impact measures he frantically instituted during the last six months or so (i.e., “incentives to hire unemployed veterans” and “guaranteed coverage for contraception”). The list reads as if the campaign was scraping bottom to dig up anything they could tout as a success. Those who want to believe Obama has had a triumphant first term probably will do so. But others aren’t likely to walk away convinced.