Smoke and Mirrors on the Campaign Trail
In his April 18th column for RealClearPolitics, Senior Elections Analyst Sean Trende notes that the upcoming presidential elections between the incumbent, Democratic President Barack Obama, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will be, as usual, “a referendum on the party in power.” That is, President Obama will be running, whether he wants to or not (and he clearly doesn’t), on his performance record.
Considering Mr. Obama’s poor presidential performance, particularly in the key area of the economy, he will have a difficult time selling his self-trumped-up success in turning around the economy since the great crash in September 2008 – the very crash that leveraged him into the White House (“everything is Bush’s fault”) – no matter what is written on his cue cards.
Without a doubt, Team Obama agrees, and their strategy is a combination of Mr. Obama running as if he isn’t the incumbent (“everything is always someone else’s fault” – President Bush, Congress, the Republican majority in the House, anybody and everybody who isn’t Barack Obama), and at the same time, trying to impugn the good name and record of his Republican challenger, Mr. Romney, so the voters will prefer Mr. Obama by comparison.
This explains the Bain Capital ads and other similar attacks. But, like everything else Team Obama has tried in the last two months, this strategy seems to have backfired. Even Obama supporter Newark Mayor Cory Booker, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” recently, said, “I have to just say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it’s just, we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially,” declared Mayor Booker, a Democrat, “that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people invest in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses.”
Pronouncing “this kind of stuff” to be “nauseating to me…[and] to the American public,” Mayor Booker put it succinctly. “It undermines…what this country should be focused on. It’s a distraction from the real issues.”
Creating a “distraction from the real issues” is what the Obama ads are all about. Such ad campaigns are not by accident. Team Obama is deliberately trying every trick in their campaign book to divert attention from the president’s record in office by throwing irrelevant matters in the face of the electorate – who they condescendingly believe are too stupid to realize what they are doing – and squeak first past the finish line come November.
It is the task of Mr. Romney and his campaign team to keep the focus of the public on the real issues. To hammer away at Mr. Obama’s failures, and in essence, to force the mainstream media to do their job and not be so easily sidetracked by smoke and mirrors. Mr. Romney has to repeat and repeat, again and again, his own clear vision for handling the critical issues facing the American people. By doing so, it will not only push the media to focus accordingly, it will also force Team Obama to have to try and explain away the incumbent’s flip-flops, outright lies, and his administration’s failed domestic and foreign policies.
Since the primary concern of all Americans is the economy, it should be noted that Mr. Obama has, as one pundit put it, “been missing in action with respect to confronting the skyrocketing national debt.” He appointed a bipartisan commission to propose solutions to the looming budgetary crisis, and then summarily ignored its recommendations. Even in his first two years in office, when his own party dominated both houses of Congress, he failed to get Congress to pass a budget, and now, although the Republicans control the House, Mr. Obama’s proposed budget was still rejected 0 to 99 by the Senate, even with its Democratic majority.As Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AK), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, told reporters following the vote last week: “A sitting president of the United States, seeking reelection, can’t lay out a plan that will gain a single vote in the House or Senate for the financial future of America. It speaks volumes.”
And no wonder. There is no clear vision except to spend with no end in sight with the Obama checkbook in office. Currently the US national debt is $15.7 trillion, or 70 percent of the US economy. To simply put: The US is now borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent, which means that at present, every American taxpayer owes almost $140,000. And while obviously, not everything can be blamed on Mr. Obama, he has done his best to contribute to the problem.
In each of his four years in office, Obama has incurred budget deficits of almost $1.3 trillion, and brought annual deficits as a percentage of GDP to their highest levels since World War II. To put it in perspective, Mr. Obama’s annual budget deficit percentage of GDP is approximately two and half times more than those of his predecessor, Mr. Bush.
According to Congressional Budget Office projections, Americans can expect an increase of another $6.4 trillion in the deficit if the Obama administration’s present tax-and-spending policies continue through 2020. The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that the additional costs to employers imposed by Obamacare will reduce the number of jobs by 2021 by 800,000, while adding close to $2 trillion in government spending.
When Barack Obama took office, at the height of the economic crisis, unemployment was nearly 8 percent. Now, trillions of dollars spent and more than three years later, the unemployment rate is still over 8 percent.
However, for Mr. Obama’s electoral appeal to young voters, a key sector for him, there is an even more worrisome statistic. When he ran in 2008 as Mr. “Change,” he pulled in 66 percent of the 18 to 29 age group. Today, the unemployment rate (April 2012) for under 25 was 16.4 percent or more than double the national average (8.1). The same for women, which explains Team Obama’s “war on women” regarding Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama’s approval rating amongst women when he took office in January 2009 was a whopping 70 percent. Now, it has dropped to 49 percent after the president failed to address the real issues about which most women care.
And in the foreign policy realm, the Obama administration has not done any better. His hallowed “engagement” policy with Iran has only helped Iran. Prior to Mr. Obama’s presidency, Tehran had barely enough low-enriched uranium to fuel one bomb after enriching it to weapons grade. Today, after more than 3 years of “engagement” and “crippling sanctions,” Iran has enough such uranium to supply four nuclear bombs. Similarly, the number of centrifuges needed to produce sufficiently enriched uranium went from 0 to 1,000 since the Obama administration began to “talk” with the Islamic Republic.
President Obama has declared a victory in the “War on Terror” by essentially declaring there are no terrorists – only he forgot to inform the terrorists, who are, Obama administration PC policy aside, primarily if not solely Muslims. Indeed, already just 18 months in office, Mr. Obama introduced his new national security strategy (in 52 pages, no less) declaring: “Our long-term security will not come from our ability to instill fear in other peoples but through our capacity to speak to their hopes,” Mr Obama said in a message introducing a new national security strategy.
According to the new strategy: “We will always seek to de-legitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out……Yet this is not a global war against a tactic – terrorism – or a religion – Islam.” It further specifies: “We are at war with a specific network, al-Qaeda, and its terrorist affiliates who support efforts to attack the United States, our allies, and partners.” (Apparently the Obama strategy is to make the Islamic terrorists laugh themselves to death.)
President Obama publicly declared “we have Israel’s back,” although when questioned the following day by ABC’s Jake Tapper on what exactly that meant, he clarified that it meant basically nothing. But this was only consistent for Mr. Obama. After all, in 2008, Presidential candidate Obama declared: “Let me be clear, Israel’s security is sacrosanct. It is non-negotiable…… any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel’s identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” And then, of course, a day later he told CNN: “Well, obviously it’s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues.” So much for Israel’s security being “non-negotiable.”
Mr. Obama’s less than stellar performance as president is comprised of a long list of policy failures. Mr. Romney’s job, as the challenger, is to focus his campaign and the national discourse that will follow it on what Obama, the incumbent, has done wrong and what, he, Romney, if elected president, would do right.
This article first appeared in FrontPage Magazine.