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Obama's Nixon-esque campaign

BY JOE SCHUELLER | SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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"Get the facts. Fight the smears."

This call to action, within a dark and demanding web design with bold text, is the headliner for the Obama 2012 re-election campaign's newest endeavor AttackWatch.

Within its interface, one can "help fight the attacks" by reporting offenses and categorizing their origin, with choices ranging from a television segment or radio program to a personal email a blog, even a rumor. The new website is a throwback to two other efforts by the president and his campaign staff.

The 2008 web campaign Fight the Smears had the same concept but with a focus on the "lies" of the McCain-Palin campaign. In 2009, the controversy of "flag@whitehouse.gov," where the president's staff requested people to "flag" others' comments about the president failed and became defunct soon after it launched.

Will the president ever learn? He obviously didn't consider the history of efforts like this. President Richard Nixon's "enemies list" in 1971 contributed to his impeachment hearings and eventual resignation. His administration compiled a list of its political enemies and focused tax audits upon them and any of their associated businesses in an attempt to humiliate them. The list was unveiled to the public eye during the Senate's hearings on Watergate, which only added fuel to the fire of the national scandal.

There is an "attack file" on the 2011 website that attempts to discredit the assertion that the new federal health-care law is granting opt-out waivers to corporations that are political supporters of the president. In reality, it is doing exactly what the campaign is trying to dismiss.

Over half of the people that are affected by the waivers belong to unions, whose leaders supported the law and negotiated an exemption from the "Cadillac tax" on high-end plans until 2018.

Another portion of the site is dedicated to the president's efforts to eliminate outdated regulations in order to improve the business climate. He did, no doubt, produce an executive order that required federal agencies to review regulations to weed out the ineffective ones. This is very commendable and should definitely make a difference if done correctly.

The only problem with the campaign's claims is that Republicans agree with him on this issue, and the Tea Party types are the ones who pressured him to do this to begin with. The "attacks" that they list on the site only reaffirm the truth that his executive order wasn't followed through on until Republicans demanded that they should. Shortly after the signing of the executive order, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it was going to issue stricter regulations on carbon emissions, which brought criticism from Congressional Republicans.

Playing political games that distract people from the real issues will get us nowhere. It is things like these that make independents unsure about whether he deserves to be reelected.

A recent poll conducted by the Terrance Group concluded that approval rating among Iowa independents has dropped 10 percentage points since November of last year, down to a new low of 38 percent. Independents in Iowa helped Obama win the caucuses in 2008 and later carry the state in the general election.

The president needs to get his act together and begin to truly work with the Republicans in the House to put the economy back on the right track. This will not only make Congress a working institution again but will do a service to the economy and the American people. Putting Americans back to work the right way is something that shouldn't be a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but something that they can come together on without a new McCarthyism of snitching on your neighbor for disagreeing with the party in the Oval Office.

Enough is enough.


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