Saturday, May 25, 2024

Behind Obama's Desperation

The presidential race has tightened significantly in recent weeks. The small lead which President Obama had over Mitt Romney during the first 3 months of this year has evaporated. They are now about even. The Obama campaign, which still enjoys the natural advantages of presidential incumbency, has become increasingly desperate. Romney has grown more confident and relaxed, as he puts the difficult primaries behind him and gears up his nationwide campaign for the final sprint to Election Day.

Even some of Obama’s Democrat supporters have been appalled by his more extreme attacks on American free market capitalism. At the same time, they are finding it more difficult to defend the disappointing results of Obama’s big government spending policies, as reflected by the most recent figures indicating a drastic slowdown in job creation and manufacturing activity.


But there is more behind the growing signs of panic in Democrat ranks. This was revealed by the increasingly defeatist tone in some of the latest statements by leading Democrat strategists and pollsters.


They are particularly worried about a growing “enthusiasm gap,” reflecting the disillusionment of many of the young and independent voters who powered Obama’s impressive 2008 victory, and who gave his campaign the look and feel of a genuine American grass roots movement.


The enthusiasm gap does not show up directly in most polls, but political professionals have recognized the signs, and consider it to be an ominous omen for Obama’s re-election prospects.


This gap usually shows up in the vote count the night after the election, when it becomes apparent which campaign was more successful in getting its voters to the polls.




It is particularly important if the candidates are separated by just a few percentage points, when getting out the base vote can mean the difference between victory and defeat. For example, in the close 2004 presidential election, White House campaign strategist Karl Rove counted on the support of Christian religious right voters to provide the narrow electoral margin of victory for Bush’s re-election, enabling him to carry Florida by 400,000 votes. In 2000, the Gore-Bush contest in Florida was a dead heat, and its outcome decided who the next president would be.


This year’s election is likely to be equally close. Current predictions of the electoral college vote show that the outcome will be decided in about a dozen battleground states where the race is still too close to call.


Once again, the ability of each candidate’s campaign to turn out their voter base could be the deciding factor. In this case, the “intensity gap” advantage seems to belong to Romney, and not only among conservative Republicans. Obama’s recent move to ease federal enforcement of the illegal immigration laws, which was clearly designed to attract more support from Hispanic voters, can best be understood in this context.




Democrats are also worried about indications of weakening support in another component of Obama’s 2008 voter base. Some analysts believe that the crucial voting group will be ethnic, working class whites, a group with which polls show Obama losing support. Some analysts claim that even with the expected strong support from black and Hispanic voters, Obama will need more white votes than he has now in order to win. Therefore, a key for the Republicans in the months ahead will be its ability to translate the simmering discontent with Obama’s policies in that group into Romney votes on Election Day.


Organized labor, which has been a mainstay of national Democrat campaigns for decades, suffered a major blow to its political prestige when it failed to unseat Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in an all-out recall effort. In addition, a recent Supreme Court ruling undermined the ability of unions to force public employees who are union members to finance their political campaigns.


Organized labor will be actively supporting Obama in the current campaign. Their failure in Wisconsin raises serious questions about how effective those efforts will be.




President Obama’s impressive 2008 grass roots fundraising operation has largely dried up. It has been replaced by an increased reliance on wealthy liberal contributors and those Wall Street and business interests which, in 2008, decided to hedge their traditional bets on Republican candidates and gave to the Democrats as well.


Obama is still doing well raising money from Hollywood types and wealthy Eastern liberals, but the conservative contributors who gave much larger sums during the GOP primaries are now giving to Romney.


Four years ago, the Obama campaign enjoyed a 2-1 fundraising advantage over McCain, but it has failed to match that pace in this campaign cycle. Romney is receiving much more money from the Wall Street and business donors than Obama. In the race to generate big donations to so-called independent PACs, the ones which support Romney are building up a significant advantage over the pro-Obama equivalents.


In 2008, when it was to his advantage, Obama undermined the public financing provisions of federal election law. When the 2012 election cycle began, Obama confidently set an unprecedented $1 billion fundraising target. But now that his campaign has fallen far short of that goal, and the tables are being turned against him, the complaints of his supporters of an unfair Romney money advantage ring hollow and hypocritical.


Fundraising is one of the truest measures of the intensity of a campaign’s support. Since the end of the GOP primary season, Romney has won over the support of those who had backed his challengers for the nomination. Republicans have put aside their previous doubts and united behind Romney’s effort to deny Obama a second term.




In the meantime, Obama’s latest effort to raise serious doubts in the minds of voters about Romney’s credentials to be president by attacking his record as a venture capitalist has failed miserably. Obama’s latest campaign ads are based upon the same attacks against Romney made by his opponents in the GOP primary campaign, and their charges have already been discredited as half-truths and unfair distortions.


At the same time, credibility of Obama’s policies on the single most important campaign issue, his stewardship of the US economy, has deteriorated along with the monthly job creation numbers and the growth forecasts by the economic experts for the remainder of this year.


The deceleration of the US economy has not escaped the notice of the voters. Over the past month, the percentage of Americans who believe that Obama has been doing a “good” or “excellent” job managing the economy has fallen to just 33 percent, down from 41 percent in May.


According to veteran Democrat analyst and pollster Dough Schoen, that single statistic is the most ominous portent for Obama’s reelection hopes. “This election is more than just a referendum on President Obama. It is a referendum on his handling of the economy,” Schoen says. If that is the case, Obama’s campaign is already in deep trouble, whatever the current polls and job approval ratings say.


If the current campaign does become a replay of the 1992 presidential election, it may already be too late for Obama to change voter impressions of his stewardship of the US economy. It is no coincidence that one of the first warnings within the Democrat camp that they were in danger of losing this election came from James Carville, one of the architects of Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory which was epitomized by the slogan “it’s the economy, stupid!”


Today, the same concerns apply. Job creation numbers are deteriorating and industrial production is falling. While corporate America remains profitable, its profit projections are clouded by the gathering recession and fiscal problems Europe, as well as a sharp decline in growth in developing economies from China to Brazil.




The depth of the pessimism which has overtaken the economic community has turned what would ordinarily be considered good economic news for Obama into an ominous portent. At the end of February, prospects for a robust economic recovery peaked, driving US oil prices to almost $110 dollars a barrel, and the price at the pump to more than $4 a gallon. This led to dire predictions by energy market experts that the price of gas would rise to more than $5 a gallon by the start of this summer.


That did not come to pass, for a number of reasons. One was the relaxation of fears that Iran would cut off the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf either due to Western sanctions or a preemptive attack. But a more important factor was a sharp increase in oil production both in the US and worldwide, coupled with a decline in projections for oil demand because of sluggish economic growth.


US families are now paying an average of about $3.50 per gallon to fill up their tanks. Uncertain economic prospects make them less likely to make major discretionary purchases, robbing the economy of its main engine of growth, robust consumer demand.


In fact, economic analysts say that Obama’s policies calling for raising taxes and increasing federal deficits, starting in 2013, would further slow the economy, while raising the national debt to dangerous levels.




That is why the Obama campaign is so intent on shifting the focus away from the president’s dismal economic record. Obama’s most recent attack ad unfairly maligns Romney as a former corporate raider. It makes an equally dubious claim that Romney was responsible for outsourcing American jobs both when he was at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts.


The Washington Post’s political fact checking column, which had condemned both claims when they had first appeared, gave the Obama ad its worst rating for being deliberately misleading, unfair and untrue.


A few days earlier, Obama’s senior adviser David Ploufe made equally inaccurate and unfounded statements about Romney’s job creation record as governor and an alleged conspiracy by Republicans in Congress to sabotage the economy before the election. Once again, the Washington Post fact checker gave the Obama campaign failing grades for trying to deliberately mislead the voters.


Surely, Obama and the experienced professionals running his campaign knew that these ads make bogus and illegitimate claims which demean the president in the eyes of those who know the truth, and that their deceptions would be quickly exposed, yet they went forward anyway. The question is, why?




Did they assume that influential liberals in the media who have been giving Obama the benefit of the doubt since before he took office would continue to give him a free ride? Did they think that, with more than four months to go before Election Day, the blatant fallacies in their ads would not be exposed and condemned?


The liberal media has allowed Obama to get away with serious mistakes. An example of this double standard was Obama’s statement earlier this month that he thought the private sector of the US economy was “doing fine,” and called for more federal spending to support employees on state and local payrolls. Instead of taking Obama to task for completely misreading the current state of the US economy, as they would have done to any Republican saying the same thing, the liberal media sought to dismiss Obama’s statement as an innocent and ignorable one-time “gaffe.”




Similarly, until recently, Obama and his Justice Department (DOJ) had largely gotten away with the disastrous Fast and Furious “gun-walking” program. It began on Obama’s watch, in the fall of 2009, when agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) deliberately violated established procedure by knowingly selling 2000 guns to smugglers working for the Mexican drug cartels. The ATF had hoped the gun sales would ultimately lead to the arrest of some of the cartel’s leaders, but instead, the ATF agents lost track of 1400 guns, while failing to make any major arrests. Even worse, the guns fell into the hands of violent criminals.


The scandal first went public on December 14, 2010, after two of the Fast and Furious guns were found near where US Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry was killed in a gun battle on the US side of the border. The Mexican government found other guns from the Fast and Furious operation at 170 different crime scenes. Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, estimates that the guns were responsible for the deaths of more than 200 Mexicans.


In February, 2011, an Assistant Attorney General wrote a letter to Senator Charles Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee denying that Fast and Furious had allowed large quantities of guns to reach criminals in Mexico. One month later, when the truth came out, the Justice Department insisted that the inaccuracies in the letter were unintentional. Attorney General Eric Holder insisted that none of the Obama political appointees running the DOJ were aware that the ATF agents running Fast and Furious had been ordered to disregard normal protocol by putting the guns into the smuggling pipeline to violent Mexican criminals.




On May 3, 2011, Holder testified before the House Judiciary Committee that he did not know who had approved of Operation Fast and Furious, and that he had first heard about it just a few weeks earlier.


In June, 2011, ATF fired the agent who had first revealed the truth about Fast and Furious to the media, leading to accusations that the DOJ was violating its own rules of protecting whistle blowers.


In October of 2011, documents surfaced showing that Holder had been sent briefings about Fast and Furious as early as July, 2010, contradicting his testimony about when he had first learned about it. In the meantime, Holder shuffled the director of ATF and three of the field supervisors and the US Attorney running Fast and Furious to other positions within the Justice Department. He also stonewalled a subpoena from Issa’s committee for Justice to turn over key documents which would reveal who was responsible for the mistakes in Fast and Furious.


At issue were 1300 documents which Holder refused to turn over. Holder claimed to be willing to reach a compromise, but in the end, he defied the committee.




At that point, President Obama’s White House intervened, asserting a legally dubious claim of executive privilege to exempt the DOJ from the requirement to turn over the documents. This move was politically embarrassing because Democrats had been loudly critical of the Bush administration for using executive privilege to avoid political embarrassment.


The House Judiciary Committee responded by voting on June 20 to recommend that the entire House find the Attorney General to be in contempt of Congress for refusing to come clean about Fast and Furious. House Speaker John Boehner said that the assertion of executive privilege was “an admission that White House officials were involved in decisions that misled Congress and covered up the truth.”


House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the committee’s contempt vote was “a shameful display of an abuse of power” by House Republicans. She implied that their real goal was to prevent Holder from moving against state government officials attempting to enforce voter registration laws which would disqualify many would-be, but ineligible, Democrat voters in November.


It was proof that the attempt to coverup the Obama administration’s involvement in Fast and Furious was becoming a serious presidential campaign issue.




In fact, Holder has a long record of using his positions in the Justice Department for wielding political influence and currying Democrat partisan advantage. In 1999, when Holder was part of Bill Clinton’s Justice Department, he played a key role in the presidential commutation of the federal jail sentences of 16 Puerto Rican FALN terrorists, which Clinton refused to explain, based upon his claim of executive privilege.


Holder also played a role in Clinton’s last-minute 2001 pardon of big-donor fugitive Marc Rich, who fled to Switzerland to escape federal prosecution on fraud and tax evasion charges.


Since becoming Obama’s attorney general, Holder has taken a lead role in promoting Obama’s liberal social policy agenda. He refused to defend the federal Defense of Marriage act and promoted the idea of taking 9/11 terrorists out of detention in Guantanamo to place them on trial in a federal court in Lower Manhattan. In a more blatantly political role, Holder, as Attorney General, has aggressively lodged legal challenges against states attempting to remove unqualified individuals from their voter rosters before November and state laws requiring unlisted voters on Election Day to present proof of their eligibility before giving them a ballot.




Apparently, Holder only believes in the use of Special Prosecutors in the pursuit of CIA agents under the Bush administration who waterboarded 9/11 terrorists, convincing them to reveal information used to track down Osama bin Ladin and prevent terror attacks against Americans. When senior Obama administration officials leaked sensitive national security information to reporters for the New York Times, leading to two stories intended to help Obama’s re-election, Holder reacted quickly to protect the White House from growing demands that the leaks be stopped and the leakers criminally prosecuted. Holder ignored Republican demands that he appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate the leaks. Instead, he turned the case over to two Justice Department prosecutors, at least one of whom has political ties to Obama. He was a bundler, raising money for Obama’s election.




The first New York Times article depicted Obama as personally reviewing and approving the “kill list” for US drone aircraft, marking terrorists around the world for death. It drew a sharp contrast to the liberal image that Obama sought to project as a human rights activist anxious to protect terrorists captured by the US against torture. Obama would rather see them killed without the benefit of trial or court review than interrogated so that useful information could be extracted which would be useful to the US in the war against terror. The story contained so much detail about the inside workings of the White House meetings where these decisions were made on a weekly basis that they had to come from the highest levels of the Obama administration.




Even more startling were the revelations in the second article published in the New York Times, which also laid out in unprecedented detail Obama’s management of the secret cyberwar against Iran’s nuclear program in close cooperation with Israel. It revealed secret details of the development of the Stuxnet virus which attacked and took over the computerized controls of Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges, and implied that the cyberwar against Iran is continuing, possibly using a newly uncovered computer virus known as the Flame.


Here again, the information revealed in the New York Times article was so detailed and on such a high level that it could have only come from within the White House. The secret information that was compromised in the two articles was so sensitive that it prompted Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees to publicly express their concern and demand that the leaks be halted.


While every modern White House has engaged in some selective leaks of security information to make it look better, these two articles went far beyond previous practice, representing a clear and conscious effort by the media and the White House to manipulate public opinion for the political benefit of the president, using highly secret national security information.




Obama’s growing desperation and political cynicism was also revealed by his executive order to prevent the full enforcement of the existing federal immigration law in order to win more votes from the Hispanic community. Ever since taking office, the Obama administration has promised to respond to demands by liberal Hispanic groups for a radical relaxation of US immigration laws.


Just before the 2010 midterm election, Obama and the Democrats pushed for a congressional vote on the so-called Dream Act which would have offered amnesty and a path to US citizenship to youthful illegal immigrants. There was no serious attempt made by the Democrats to craft a bill that Republicans could support and pass into law. Instead, it was a totally symbolic gesture meant to garner Hispanic votes in the midterm election.


Two years later, with Republicans in control of Congress, Obama did not even go through the motions of proposing another immigration bill. Instead, he imposed the changes unilaterally by executive decree, an option which he had rejected two years ago when he pushed for a vote on the Dream Act, explaining at that time that he thought that trying to do the same thing by executive decree would be unconstitutional.


But that didn’t stop him this time from sacrificing constitutional principle for political advantage.


Democrats have traditionally supported loosening immigration laws, in the belief that newly legalized immigrants will support Democrats when they become eligible to vote. For the same reason, Obama and the Democrats have advocated for loosening documentation requirements for voters showing up at the polls on Election Day.


The executive order would instantly exempt 800,000 illegal immigrants from immigration laws, and allow them to work and live in this country without fear of arrest and deportation.




In justifying this deliberate and wholesale abandonment of the government’s law enforcement responsibilities, the Obama administration cites the principle of “prosecutorial discretion.” In laymen’s terms, this means that the White House has claimed the right unilaterally to pick and choose which federal laws will be enforced.


Obama’s political stunts could backfire by uniting and motivating his opponents. Conservatives and many independent voters understand what the Obama campaign is hoping to accomplish with its tactics, making these voters more determined than ever to deny him a second term.


The challenge for the Republicans and the Romney campaign will be to go beyond the sound bytes and headlines and try to explain to American voters the motive behind what Obama is doing and how it compromises the rule of law and the security of the United States.



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