Obama, Republicans and the Media Spin Cycle

Following politics as closely as I do, I’ve built up a thick skin of cynicism regarding the presentation of truth by politicians and the media. There is a good reason for that; according to a Gallup poll a few months ago, from 1998-2010, the number of Americans expressing distrust of the mass media outlets has risen from 46% to 57%. Congressional approval ratings remain lower than the average age of a fan at a Justin Beiber concert. And while Americans generally want to think well of their president, (especially a president seen as proof that America is no longer a racist nation), Obama struggles to convince half of Americans he’s doing a good job.

I was thinking about this as I watched and read coverage of the Republican presidential candidates by the mainstream media. If we are to believe them, this assemblage of Republicans is among the most backward, bigoted, heartless and arrogant people ever to walk the earth. Mitt Romney is decried as being rich and out of touch with average Americans. Newt Gingrich is the arrogant, professorial philanderer too volatile to be trusted with the presidency. Rick Santorum is portrayed as the far right theocrat who will be sneaking into the homes of unsuspecting women and arresting them for using birth control. Ron Paul is, well, Ron Paul. They don’t know quite what to make of him.

To be sure, each candidate has aspects of their personal, professional and political histories which can be attacked. Conservatives are wary of Romney because they just aren’t yet convinced that his changes on issues like abortion and gun control are borne of a true conversion to conservatism, rather than political pragmatism. Many would also like him to admit that RomneyCare was a failure both from an economic and individual liberty perspective. Newt Gingrich, arguably the best debater of the group and the one who speaks the language of conservatism most fluently, is also a serial adulterer (who now says he’s a changed man) and unpopular with many of his past colleagues, who call him mercurial and inconsistent. The Romney attack ads were devastating in part because they reminded many people like me, who have always appreciate Newt’s depth of historical knowledge and his ability to analyze and break down complex policy issues, that Newt has also taken some decidedly un-conservative positions in the past.

Likewise, while Santorum is strong on social issues, his past record is not one of fiscal conservatism, and with the main issue in this election being the economy and job creation, with federal spending draining so much capital from the private sector, voters want to know he can be trusted. Ron Paul makes a strong case for his constitutional bona fides on many issues, but with a volatile, terrorism-supporting regime in Iran, many voters, right or wrong, see his foreign policy as Pollyanna-ish.

With all that being said, each of these candidates would be exponentially better than our current Class Warrior-in-Chief. Romney has a proven track record of turning around businesses, and in his personal life he has proven himself compassionate and faithful as well. Gingrich was the catalyst behind the Contract With America, which lead to the Republican Revolution of 1994 and balanced budgets. Rick Santorum has been a stalwart defender of traditional values and the sanctity of life, and has also surprised with his grasp of foreign policy issues. And I must admit, it is with no small amount of glee that I contemplate the thought of Ron Paul as Secretary of the Treasury.

Each of these men would serve capably. In this election though, if Republicans want to retake the presidency, they will have to make this campaign about Obama’s record as president. Obama knows that as well, which is why his State of the Union address hardly mentioned his signature “achievements”, like the stimulus bill, ObamaCare and the financial reform bill. Instead, he focuses on undiluted class warfare, with some race-baiting and revisionist history tossed in for good measure.

Obama talks about Republican “obstructionism”, and declares repeatedly his disdain of the constitutional separation of powers, boldly insisting he will act unilaterally when Congress doesn’t give him his way. Yet this omits or ignores the fact that for the first two years of his administration, he had supermajorities in the House and Senate, and was able to pass anything he wanted without the need for a single Republican vote (as he reminded them when he said they could ride on the bus, but had to “sit in the back.”) He got his stimulus bill through, and we promptly saw the unemployment rate jump up more than 2%, while adding another trillion to the national debt. He got ObamaCare, which is now more unpopular than when it passed, and it hasn’t even been fully implemented. He got financial reform, and now we see that all it has done is enrich his Wall Street cronies while institutionalizing government bailouts and “too big to fail.”

Obama (and Democrats in general) have repeatedly lectured the rest of us on how we should stop complaining about government taking ever larger amounts of our hard earned money because we need to pay our “fair share.” Yet they fail to set the example. Mitt Romney, painted as a member of the wealthy elite, paid about 14% of his income in taxes, and gave away another 19% to charity. Yet Obama, champion of the poor and downtrodden (if we are to believe his self-aggrandizing claims), and his gaffe-prone and tempestuous sidekick Joe Biden, don’t come close in the compassion department. Obama, having taken full advantage of the Bush tax cuts he vilifies, has not voluntarily given a single penny extra to pay down the debt (despite taxpayers covering his living expenses and much more), and even though he is high up on the list of the Top 1%.

Even more egregiously, considering the “fair share” lectures we’ve been subjected to, is the fact that Obama gave just 1% to charity from 2001-2004, and raised that to 5% in 2007 when deciding to run for president. Joe Biden gave a miserly $369 in 2008, and only $5,350 in 2010! For being so privileged and wealthy, the only charity they seem to be interested in is the kind where government takes from one citizen by force and gives it to another citizen. Of course, that is not charity; that is legalized extortion.

So, do the Republican candidates have flaws? Without a doubt. However, the alternative of keeping Obama for a second term is too frightening to contemplate. The list above should be justification enough for making him a one-term president. Then we can add to that the fact that Obama, after calling Bush “unpatriotic” for his deficit levels, accrued more debt in three years than Bush did in eight years, and more debt than every president from George Washington up to George W. Bush…combined! Reagan inherited a far worse economy from Carter than Obama did from Bush, yet Reagan had the economy growing at a breakneck pace by this point in his presidency, despite having to work with a Democrat-controlled Congress.

Add to that the list of scandals plaguing this administration (soft-peddled or ignored by the mainstream media) such as dismissing the New Black Panther voter intimidation case, Fast and Furious, Solyndra, an administration full of tax cheats and lobbyists, his thuggery and union payouts in the GM bankruptcy, his ObamaCare waivers for the politically connected, and his job-killing veto of the Keystone XL pipeline, and it becomes clear that the best way to get America back on track would be to give Obama and the Democrats a pink slip come November. Let’s inform ourselves on the facts and make November 2012 the end of an error.

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