Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Obama the Desperate

The growing fear in the White House is palpable. As Election Day and the looming Democratic defeat inch closer, the administration’s political tactics smack of a growing desperation to derail the Republicans at any cost. The most recent and unbecoming attacks have been unleashed by Obama upon the US Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately, these misguided strategies not only put on raw display the administration’s weaknesses and failures, but will drive an already skeptical America further from the Democrats.

The latest issue began after a liberal think tank released an unsubstantiated report alleging that the US Chamber of Commerce has used foreign funds for political advertisements. President Obama quickly jumped on the bandwagon, seemingly hoping to link these supposed shady foreign dealings with Republican candidates who are often supported by the Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber of Commerce was quick to respond; denying any involvement in what is an illegal practice and emphasizing that there is no reason, outside of slanderous politics, for anyone to raise the generally institution’s funding practices. In a letter, Chamber President Tom Donohue wrote:

Let me be clear. The Chamber does not use any foreign money to fund voter education activities—period. We have strict financial controls in place to ensure this.... Under our accounting system, these revenues are never used to support any political activities. We are in full compliance with all laws and regulations.
Given these facts, the administration and Congressional leaders who attacked the Chamber have been challenged by journalists to produce any evidence to the contrary. They came up empty and, turning the American principles of fairness and justice upside down, our accusers have actually suggested that the Chamber should prove that it has not done anything wrong.
However, despite lack of any evidence and criticism by much of the press, the Democrats have been unwilling to back down. During recent questioning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused to drop the ludicrous attack. He stated, “The president will continue to make the case that we don't know where this money comes from and entities like the Chamber have said they get money from overseas.”

Tactics to distract voters are often used by both political parties. When the issues do not look favorable for the party in power, it can be politically expedient to draw voters’ attentions elsewhere. However, in general, there should be at least a kernel of truth in the diversionary issue. In this instance, this appears to be lacking. By randomly targeting an organization, based on nothing but partisan differences, the administration is acting childish. If Democrats and Republicans were to consistently use this strategy, accusing every union, business group, lobby, or other partisan organization of unproven crimes, it would clog public discourse with frivolous babble. It is one thing to raise issues – say Christine O’Donnell’s witchiness – that, even if inane, are at least based in facts; it is quite another to harass organizations simply to divert voter attention.

This makes it all the more embarrassing for the president to mire himself in such puerile politicking. Such mudslinging should be left to loosely associated lackeys and radio talk show hosts, not the president himself. The fact that Obama feels the need to partake in this faux battle reveals a deep fear of November 2nd and a determination to avoid the anticipated outcome by any means. It puts on clear display the reality that the administration does not have the self-confidence to support fellow Democrats with its record or its policy proposals. It shows Obama understands that his policies have failed America. After all, if he believed America has been happy with his administration he would campaign on his successes, not pie-in-the-sky accusations.

However, it is unlikely that smear tactics will sway an unhappy electorate. America who, driven by a poor economy, distaste with the administration’s hubris, and general opprobrium with the Democrats’ inability to successfully run the country, will most certainly see through the ploy to distract voters. But more significantly, Americans will be angered by the performance. Generally speaking, they do not want their president to stoop to this level. The office should be above this type of low-brow partisan behavior and by dragging it in the mud Obama will hurt his image.

Unfortunately for Democrats, Obama’s strategy will surely backfire and reinforce his detached image. It will further convince America that the administration is devoid of practical and acceptable ideas and it will solidify the past two years as a time of wasteful government growth and backward policies. Elections should be about ideas and policies, not mudslinging. And while both parties often fail at this, Obama’s current inability to focus on real issues and a growing strategy of smearing the Republicans only signifies that he and his party are in big trouble.

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