Thought Police

We are starting to see the first seeds of that the Republican campaign for Presidency is going to look like and it isn’t pretty.

The first battle in this war, for those not following these sorts of politics closely, is to define your opponent in the eyes of the electorate before they can define themselves.

Think about the last couple of elections.

The Obama McCain election turned on McCain’s fumbled attempt to engage in the financial crisis which exploded midway through the campaign versus Palin’s attempts to characterize candidate Obama as a radical in sheep’s clothing.

Bush versus Kerry was almost over before it started because of the swift boat attacks which suggested that Kerry was not the war hero he claimed to be.

Bush versus Gore ultimately turned on Gore as a Washington insider versus Bush as a political lightweight. It was also a referendum on the Clinton legacy. All the narratives stuck and it was a very close election.

Clinton versus Dole was a classic case of young versus old. Clinton won because he was able to portray Dole as too old and out of touch to manage the challenges of a new emerging economy.

The green shoots of the Republican campaign are already out there and they indicate how far the Republicans are prepared to go to attempt to put President Obama on the defensive.

The big problem the Republicans face is that their main argument, Obama has mismanaged the economy, is at odds with the personal experiences that people are having every day. The economy is getting better and the individual economic condition of many people is improving. So all the Republicans are left with is that they would have done it better – of course that is in stark contrast to the optic that was present for all to see in the debt ceiling crisis when the Republicans appeared willing to put the country into default in order to win a political advantage.  Even though the Republicans will be running a very successful businessman, they aren’t going to escape the fact that many voters regarded this behavior as irresponsible.

The Republican primary has also forced Romney to demonstrate that he could be just as conservative as his challengers.  The result is that he has lost significant ground with moderates and women, particularly in the swing states where this election will be decided.  There is still a long way to go before November, but it is going to be difficult for Romney to walk very many of those statements regarding women’s issues back very far.  Obama, by comparison, has reliable understandable consistent positions on many of the issues that these voters care about.

So the Republicans have opened a new front. Rather than attempt to define the President on what he has done, they are building a new narrative based on suggestions of things that he will do if he is elected for a second term.

In other words, they are building a whole new straw man based on the fears of those who distrust the President today, and attributing actions that they know will upset voters to this new straw man.

The two examples that have popped up so far are Romney’s claim that an off-hand remark by Obama to President Medvedev of Russia suggests that a second term Obama would accommodate the Russian objections to the missile defense systems we are erecting in eastern Europe. In the process Romney also called Russia our “No. 1 geopolitical foe,” – a terrible gaffe attempting to suggest that Obama is consorting with the enemy.

The second example is Sen. Orrin Hatch suggesting that the President will make Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion an issue in the fall campaign.

The first is a wild speculation that ignores what Russia may be willing to give in return for a change in current US policy. Russia is one of the current supporters of Iran and Syria. They could help end the current crisis in Syria. Iran and their nuclear ambitions is one of the biggest problems in the Mideast. If Russia was able to bring Iran to the table and broker an agreement for Iran to end its nuclear weapons program, that might be worth dismantling our eastern European weapons. After all our reason to build that system was to put pressure on Russia and protect those countries from Iran. That strategy, like much of the rest of Obama’s foreign policy, appears to be working.

The second was just a weak attempt to make any criticism that Romney receives for his religion Obama’s fault. There are people who aren’t going to vote for Romney because of his religion, but most of them are conservative Republicans, not Democrats. Obama doesn’t have to do or say anything to remind people that Romney is a Mormon, just as Romney doesn’t have to do or say anything to remind people that Obama is an African American. Those personal attributes will cost both candidates some votes and win both candidates some votes. The key is that the Republicans are trying to build this narrative that Obama is PLANNING to use Romney’s religion against him and that it is this sort of THINKING which should disqualify him from re-election.

The substance of both of these narratives is to build the syllogism that IF Obama were willing to do these despicable things, what else is he planning to do once he is immune from the pressure of having to run for re-election.

It is only April, but the jostling for position and advantage have already started.

It is an odd way to run a country.

5 Responses to “Thought Police”

  1. keith says:

    Jeff,
    And how will Obama frame Romney? Let me try, an out of touch rich white man who has nothing in common with the “working man.” So much so, he makes 10,000 dollar bets/jokes and casually drops that his wife drives 2 Caddies. He is a fiend of the rich and merely wants to cut there taxes. He is a corparate raider who puts profits ahead of employes and jobs. He hates women to the extent he wants to deny them birth control. Also because he is a rich white republican he is opposed to Meicans and is racist against black and wants to make sure they don’t get to vote.

    Jeff, write all those down and let’s see how I did.

    Mean here’s all one needs to say about Obama. He’s increades the debt over 5 trillion and has presented a budget two years in a row, that got zero votes each time I believe, that contemplates more trillions in debt FOREVER. He’s created a healthcare system that may prove to be unconstitutional that adds many more trillion in debt tat in time will lead to single payer and rationing. (That’s an opinion) he has publicly challanged the supreme court twice in a way unbecoming of the president who came to change the tone in washington. This past weeks comments were political in nature as the question before the supreme court is a legal matter not what will happen to some if his law is over turned suggesting the supreme court considers things other the what the law is…….

    For me, no thank you to a second term.

  2. keith says:

    http://m.cnbc.com/us_news/46975031/3

    Jeff,
    Explain to those who may not know the data in the attached article. The unemployement rate came down from 8.3 to 8.2 percent. The job data missed by 80,000 or so fewer jobs then forcast. The forcast thought 203,000 would be created and the unemployment rate would remain unchanged at 8.3 percent. Huh? If you want to have a serious discussion about how we’re doing, which is improving, then you’ll stop looking through your Obama colored glasses. It is perfectly acceptable for republicans to question how we’re doing….

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    I don’t think that you voted for him the first time, so he likely is not counting on your vote this time around either.

    As far as debt is concerned, what makes you think that the Republicans are going to behave any different if they regain control of the White House than they did the last time they were in charge? Look at history. The last three Republican President ALL increased the deficit.

    The deficit grows under the Ryan budget too because they continue to slash taxes.

    The Republicans are already backtracking on the debt ceiling deal that they made because they don’t want cuts that the defense department has already agreed to. In their own words, how do they plan to pay for that increase spending? They don’t. Just like they didn’t when push came to shove on extending the payroll tax holiday and they refused to even discuss closing tax loopholes to generate revenue. Yet the Ryan budget calls for making up the half a TRILLION yearly revenue shortfall his budget creates by cutting taxes by … wait for it …. closing tax loopholes! Wake up! It’s not going to happen.

    http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2012/03/30/why-paul-ryans-budget-would-explode-the-deficit/

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/lawmakers-press-obama-avoid-defense-cuts-16030781#.T3-gdJn-8R8

    Still the Republicans have accomplished their mission. They have convinced you that Obama is the problem and they will get your vote for another election cycle.

    As far as picking a fight with the Supreme Court, how different is that from the “activist” label that conservatives have been swinging at the judicial branch for years when it comes to social issues like prayer in schools, gay marriage, and abortion?

    If conservatives can make that claim for decisions they don’t like, it is certainly fair game for Democrats to do the same thing.

    Here’s the same argument you use on me regularly.

    Where were you and the rest of the conservative movement when Bush railed against activist judges regarding same sex marriage?

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/mashek/2006/06/12/bush-makes-mischief-on-activist-judges

    Obama was trying to make a point, as ungraceful as it might be, that in the areas of commerce, Congress was only exercising the broad leeway that the court has traditionally given it. The reality, however, is that the Court has been mindful of what the boundaries of that board leeway should be.

    So the real question is what will happen if the Court does strike down some or all of the law.

    As I’ve said, if the law is struck down, it will likely result in Obama’s re-election. Republicans will lose healthcare as one of their big issues and Democrats will become mobilized to re-elect Obama so that at least some of the law can be salvaged.

    If the law is upheld, it will likely make the election somewhat closer because Republicans can accurately state that they only way to stop this law from being implemented is to put a Republican in the White House.

    As far a job numbers, that’s another exercise in election year politics.

    When the numbers were good, Republican candidates said they should be better. When they are bad, Republicans say, “See we told you that things were not as good as everyone said.”

    As far as I’m concerned, you can’t have it both ways. If you want to be able to pile on when the numbers are bad, you have to be willing to give credit when the numbers are good.

    So far this year they have been good more than they have been bad. if they end up being bad for a few months in a row, then there is something to worry about and Obama will have a problem. Right now, the numbers are just demonstrating that progress in March slowed, but as your article said car manufacturing is booming while construction is struggling.

    If the house had passed the $109B transportation bill that the Senate passed last month, construction would be gearing up just like manufacturing. The Transportation Department said that spending (from funds already collected in gas tax and user fees) would create 3M new jobs over the next two years and generate over $600B in additional economic growth.

    Instead 7000 construction workers were laid off in March. Still think this is all Obama’s fault?

    I wasn’t sure, but you may have also been asking why the unemployment rate went down even though job growth was not as robust as was predicted. It is a complicated question, but there are a couple of obvious reasons. There are still a lot of people out of work who have stopped looking for work. There are people who have chosen to exit the workforce to get more training/schooling. We are also starting to see the first Baby Boomers retire. So there are a growing number of people who are voluntarily either exiting the workforce or choosing to retire rather than continue to look for work. I went to two retirement parties last month.

    Some experts speculate that it may take another 4 or 5 years of baby boomer retirement and continued job growth to finally get the numbers down to the 5% “full employment” level.

  4. Keith says:

    YS)I don’t think that you voted for him the first time, so he likely is not counting on your vote this time around either

    MR) I voted for neither. I took the position if I cant vote for someone I wouldn’t vote against someone. I couldnt vote for McCain. I will never do that again.

    YS)As far as debt is concerned, what makes you think that the Republicans are going to behave any different if they regain control of the White House than they did the last time they were in charge? Look at history. The last three Republican President ALL increased the deficit.

    MR) I don’t know it….I do know Obama won’t….

    YS)Still the Republicans have accomplished their mission. They have convinced you that Obama is the problem and they will get your vote for another election cycle

    MR) Do you really think the Republicans convinced me of this?

    YS)As far as picking a fight with the Supreme Court, how different is that from the “activist” label that conservatives have been swinging at the judicial branch for years when it comes to social issues like prayer in schools, gay marriage, and abortion?

    MR) Obama was speaking in less the legal terms, to issues the supreme court should even consider. That’s what I was suprised by. Its a legal case and thats all anyone should be concerned with.

    YS)Where were you and the rest of the conservative movement when Bush railed against activist judges regarding same sex marriage?

    MR) Some what different. This is the supreme court we’re talking about. This is the last stop. If we weaken the athority of the Supreme Court, kaos may soon follow. We should be concerned with this. He potentailly is setting up an environment where the decision, if it goes against him, is veiwed as a political one, not one based on law. This is the difference.

    YS) As far a job numbers, that’s another exercise in election year politics.
    When the numbers were good, Republican candidates said they should be better. When they are bad, Republicans say, “See we told you that things were not as good as everyone said.”As far as I’m concerned, you can’t have it both ways. If you want to be able to pile on when the numbers are bad, you have to be willing to give credit when the numbers are good.

    MR) An opinion you didn’t have while Bush was in office I might note. I don’t know wheather the numbers are good or bad. I can tell you they are very misleading. Once a person is off unemployeement they are no longer counted as unemployeed. This now occurs after 99 weeks. This hais how the score has been kept for awhile now. It is inaccurate. Obama is presinding over a shrinking workforce, not his fault. The jobs number will fall when employment both increases AND when those 99ers come off the rolls. So the number is deciving. If more jobs were being added then it would be more legitamat. You simply have to accept that as fact. There is nothing wrong with republicans pointing this out.

    YS) but as your article said car manufacturing is booming while construction is struggling

    MR) The article is wrong, cars are not BOOMING. We are on a 14 million unit pace for 2012. We used to do 17 million. 14 million is more then we’ve been doing but BOOMING?

    YS) Some experts speculate that it may take another 4 or 5 years of baby boomer retirement and continued job growth to finally get the numbers down to the 5% “full employment” level

    MR) I hope……… I don’t see it, thats not repub or dem. I don’t see it and we have 62 locations around the country that is tied directly to steel consumption, MANUFACTURING…. I hope I’m wrong.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    As I’ve said, you have a challenge with your vote if reducing the debt is your main concern. Neither party has earned your vote. So it’s going to be interesting to see how you parse this.

    So it’s OK to criticize the lower courts, but it’s not OK to criticize the Supreme Court? Sorry, doesn’t wash. They are all one body with the Supremes only taking those cases where they feel the lower courts haven’t settled the issue. So an “activist” lower court decision that the Supreme court chooses not to take up equates to an “activist” Supreme Court too.

    Activism has been degraded as a term to mean, “Decisions I don’t like”. If it is OK for Bush to do it, it has to be OK for Obama to do it too. BTW Bush, Reagan, and Nixon also criticized the Supreme Court for liberal activism as a campaign platform to appoint more conservative judges.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/weekinreview/14jeff.html

    http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2754&context=faculty_scholarship

    As far as jobs are concerned, please share with me what you recall my position with regard to Bush and jobs was. As I recall, the issue was did Bush on net create any new jobs during his 8 years. The answer was no.

    The article is WRONG on cars? I guess you are going to have to post something to support your claim. The car companies have clearly established a lower breakeven point than they had before, but the growth right now is very robust.

    http://www.elpasoinc.com/news/border_business/article_9b3d6110-81c4-11e1-9072-0019bb30f31a.html

    The speculation on growth was how long at the current rate it will take to get to full employment, not that we will see full employment during that period of time.

Leave a Reply