Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mr. President, It’s Not a Game

And It Certainly Shouldn’t Be a Game of Lies

Do Americans care if our President can cook, creatively doodle, play golf well, sing, win at cards, improve at bowling or skillfully play basketball?  Or do Americans think our President should be focused on growing jobs, reducing spending, bringing down enormous deficits, creating energy independence, and reducing regulations…just a few critical issues confronting our country and this administration.  Americans believe our president must solve some of the problems facing him…he had promised significant progress by this time in his presidency…e.g. unemployment would be below 5.6%, the deficit would be reduced by half and GDP would be growing at over 4% annually.  A fawning press has generally heaped accolades on President Obama and ignored his failings both from a performance standpoint and as a person.  At the outset of his run for the presidency the mainstream media (MSM) decided he was a strong candidate with a terrific message.  He was ‘a different kind of candidate’…he had the answers, he spoke with skill and conviction, and he certainly offered hope.  The MSM as a consequence did not vet candidate Obama, his prior associations were ignored, his thin record was overlooked, his leadership skills were conflated...he was a ‘very likeable guy’.  In effect the apotheosis of Barack Obama was well on the way. 

After 43 months of unemployment in excess of 8.0%, a foundering level of economic activity as measured by GDP, staggering deficits over a trillion dollars yearly, and a national debt that now exceeds $16 trillion, we are starting to hear and read stories that portray a president that wastes time and has a host of other negative traits.  These narratives have even been found in The New York Times; The Competitor in Chief, by Jodi Kantor on Sept. 2nd spells out some of the issues as does Carol Platt Liebau’s story in titled, “Is Our President a Bit of a Jerk”.  Liebau, a conservative attorney, quotes a number of respected left leaning reporters to strengthen her argument.  The problems outlined in both articles and others include President Obama wasting significant time trying to improve his golf, basketball, bowling, and card playing skills.  The hagiographical tone is gone from these narratives and well known reporters in the MSM describe the president using words/phrases like arrogant, conceited, overbearing, selfish, overestimating capabilities, and nasty. The journalists include Jake Tapper, Mark Halperin, Greg Kandra, Laura Meckler, Glenn Thrush, Jonathan Allen, Al Hunt, and more; all can be safely described as pro-Obama in the past.  

An increasing number of articles and polls are discussing and measuring likeability due to the unprecedented attacks launched by both candidates but most notably Obama and his campaign.  Two articles worth perusing are Caddell and Schoen: A Campaign in Need of a Clintonian Pivot” and Politico’s, “Verdict is in: Obama levels more personal attacks” by John Harris & Alexander Burns.  Again these authors lean liberal/democrat and Politico is a pro-left, pro-Obama site.  Caddell-Schoen state categorically, “What voters are looking for—and particularly what swing voters, independents, and disillusioned Obama voters are looking for—is a new direction for America based on fiscal discipline, a balanced budget, and economic growth and leadership”.  The balance of their thoughts discuss the erosion in Obama’s polling statistics and forcefully suggests that the president stop “unceasing attacks” on Romney, demonizing and dividing.  The Politico comments note that Obama has suffered through many personal attacks on issues like his birth and college transcripts, but flatly says, “Lost in the smoke is the fact that few of the personal assaults—as opposed to political or policy criticisms—have come from Romney or his official representatives”.  The article is astonishing in its condemnation of not just Obama but his staff and related supporters that have directly or indirectly accused Romney of murder, a felony, possible tax fraud, and “lying to the American people”.  Interestingly, fact checkers have found little to complain about per Romney/Ryan statements and the statements made by their surrogates at the RNC and during other campaign situations.   

This isn’t a game and an effort to see what makes the candidates tick is important to the voter decision making process.  American’s want the candidates to play fair and give them facts; outright lying is frowned upon.  The President and his surrogates are increasingly seen as purveyors of spin, stretching the truth and out right lying.  In Contrast Romney/Ryan and their representatives are largely found to be truthful.  It’s telling that Paul Ryan was castigated for lying regarding the closing of the GM plant in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin and on two other issues during his convention speech. PolitiFact labeled his plant closing remarks, ‘pants on fire’, The New York Times said ‘he bent the truth’, the Washington Post gave it 2 Pinocchio’s, but FactCheck said true.  Within the next nine days the Times retracted their assessment, PolitiFact removed their on-line post without comment, and the Washington Post’s ombudsman said the paper had not properly researched the facts on the plant closing and stated the paper was “just wrong” and Ryan was truthful.  The other two supposed Ryan mistruths were meekly retired immediately after being challenged by FactCheck.  Ryan was also reported to have tried “to restrict the definition of rape”, a charge that was repeated with frequency although completely false.  

To get a sense of the dilemma facing Americans read, contrast and compare the following fact check narratives: (1) Democratic Disinformation from Charlotte, by, on Sept. 4; (2) Celebrating Democrats, past and present, in Charlotte; PolitiFact, by Bill Adair, Sept. 4; (3) Day 2: More Convention Canards; by, on Sept. 5; (4) Fact Check:Top Ten Clinton DNC Falsehoods; by Ben Shapiro, on Sept. 6; and (5) Rebutting Vice President Biden’s Convention Speech; by Elizabeth MacDonald, on Sept 6.  With the exception of PolitiFact, an often biased & highly criticized checker the other named analyzers try to ‘get it right’.  However, checking with more than one check authority (which is unlikely) is necessary if voters want to know the truth.  

The end result of Obama's personal attacks and derision and those of his minions is reducing his likeability.  The attacks are also decrementing his chances of being reelected.  The American people can sense rank dishonesty and do not appreciate incessant personal attacks and ridicule that have been central to the President’s reelection strategy.  However, the American people also do not appreciate negative Romney/Ryan responses although they do not believe the responses are equivalent to Obama's in vitriol and viciousness.  The aforementioned fact check reports are worth reading and are an indictment of the Democrat tactics used during this election cycle.  Truth is the casualty as is the base knowledge the American voter will use to decide who should become president.  One result is a decline in Obama’s polling numbers (e.g. ABC News/Washington Post Poll) with independents, women, Hispanics, and even other blacks in both likeability and electability, but will it be enough?  Hopefully...and ‘That’s because it isn’t a game Mr. President’… ‘and it certainly shouldn’t be a game of lies’.

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