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July 25, 2012

Games Presidents Play

Barack Obama is losing patience with all these political games. Adults understand that during an election, things may heat up but there's a line that shouldn't be crossed. Where is that line? It depends on which Obama you ask.

There's the Obama of 2008, who promised to bring change to Washington, to raise the tone of the debate, to put aside the tired, partisan rhetoric of smaller minds for the enlightened tolerance and respect for our shared love of country:

"...what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division. What you won't hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon - that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first."

Or there's the Obama of 2012, who demonizes private citizens for supporting his opponent and (at best) allows his administration to persecute them in a way that makes the Nixon Enemies List look amateurish:

This column has already told the story of Frank VanderSloot, an Idaho businessman who last year contributed to a group supporting Mitt Romney. An Obama campaign website in April sent a message to those who'd donate to the president's opponent. It called out Mr. VanderSloot and seven other private donors by name and occupation and slurred them as having "less-than-reputable" records.

Mr. VanderSloot has since been learning what it means to be on a presidential enemies list. Just 12 days after the attack, the Idahoan found an investigator digging to unearth his divorce records. This bloodhound—a recent employee of Senate Democrats—worked for a for-hire opposition research firm.

Now Mr. VanderSloot has been targeted by the federal government. In a letter dated June 21, he was informed that his tax records had been "selected for examination" by the Internal Revenue Service. The audit also encompasses Mr. VanderSloot's wife, and not one, but two years of past filings (2008 and 2009).

Mr. VanderSloot, who is 63 and has been working since his teens, says neither he nor his accountants recall his being subject to a federal tax audit before. He was once required to send documents on a line item inquiry into his charitable donations, which resulted in no changes to his taxes. But nothing more—that is until now, shortly after he wrote a big check to a Romney-supporting Super PAC.

Two weeks after receiving the IRS letter, Mr. VanderSloot received another—this one from the Department of Labor. He was informed it would be doing an audit of workers he employs on his Idaho-based cattle ranch under the federal visa program for temporary agriculture workers.

Unexplained in all of this is why an administration that not only refuses to enforce standing immigration laws but sues to stop states from enforcing them either suddenly thinks violations of those laws are worth investigating?

The Obama of 2012 clearly believes calling his opponent a liar and a felon is just "politics as usual":

No, we won’t be apologizing [for calling Romney a liar and a felon] and you know, sometimes these games are played during political campaigns.

The Obama of 2012 sees nothing wrong with publishing outright lies about his opponent:

As we noted previously and to its credit, the Washington Post has been critical of misleading Barack Obama attack ads on Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Now Time magazine has taken to fact-checking an Obama ad which hits Mitt Romney on a hot-button social issue: abortion.

Time magazine's Michael Scherer -- no Romney backer he -- slammed the Obama spot as "centered on a clear untruth," and delved into the comments the ad took wildly out of context in order to appeal to women voters on the basis of a "scary falsehood" (emphases mine)...

Here is the part that is false: “Romney backed a law that outlaws all abortion even in cases of rape or incest.” Romney has not backed a law like that.

His stated position since 2005, when he went from being a pro-choice politician to a pro-life politician, is that he supports an exemption for rape, incest and risk to the life of the mother. He said it here to the Des Moines Register in December of 2011, and here in the National Review in June of 2011. He said it all through the 2007 campaign. He even said it in 2005 in a Boston Globe Op-Ed announcing the end of his pro-choice approach to politics. “I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother,” he wrote. Not much nuance there.

According to the Obama of 2012, both candidates are grown men and grown men accept responsibility for what happens on their watch:

... as President of the United States, one of the things I’ve learned, and we just talked about was anything that happens on my watch is my responsibility. That’s what people expect. Harry Truman said the buck stops with me...”

Let's see if we have the Obama of 2012 straight. If you're in a leadership position (not on paper, or on an SEC filing, but actively doing the job), everything that happens on your watch is your responsibility.

Except, of course, for high unemployment, which is Europe's fault.

D'oh! Did we really say Europe? We meant Automatic Teller Machines

... and Congress. Definitely Congress.

Or was it The Shrub?

The list goes on and on:

the Internet.
the Arab Spring.
the Japanese Tsunami.


The Obama of 2012 has blamed so many people (not to mention inanimate objects and natural disasters!) for so many things that there are entire web sites devoted to cataloging his serial refusal to take responsibility for anything.

Where is this mysterious line Obama claims should not be crossed? It's hard to tell from his own actions.

Attributing accusations from anonymous sources to your opponent? Doesn't everyone?

Calling out private citizens for donating to his opponent? Fine.

Allowing (and this is the charitable construction) your administration to persecute them? No problem.

Calling your opponent a liar and a felon? Perfectly legit.

Putting out ads media fact checkers characterize as "misleading, unfair, and untrue"? Or citing a fact check that previously debunked your claims as a source? Hey, these are games that get played.

Based on the President's record so far, we think we've found the perfect campaign song for him:

Just don't try the same tricks, because that would be crossing a line. And Obama is losing patience with such tactics. When it comes to this President, the buck stops there.

Posted by Cassandra at July 25, 2012 06:04 PM

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...to put aside the tired, partisan rhetoric of smaller minds...

He could even live up to that commitment in the very same speech he espoused it, why would anyone think it could survive through another campaign?

"...what you don't deserve is another election that's governed by fear, and innuendo, and division.
Because that's what those Rethuglicans did last election
What you won't hear from this campaign or this party
Because that sort of thing is the province of the other side
is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon
Those dirty Jesus Freak nationalists
- that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize.
Well, yes I did just spend the preceeding sentences demonizing my opponents, but I do it nicely.
Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first."
I told you, "Pay no attention to those demonizations behind the text"!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at July 26, 2012 03:38 PM

Every time Obama starts to excuse himself, I see John Belushi in The Blues Brothers" on his knees before Cary Fisher, listing all the reasons he stood her up at a wedding. He ends the list with a painful "I swear to God it's not my fault!!!" Of course when she forgives him and drops her gun, he kisses her, drops her in the mud, and leaves her.

Which, now that I think of it, is exactly the way Obama leaves his supporters (and everyone else not maned Barak Obama.)

Posted by: tony at July 28, 2012 02:43 PM