American Elephants

The Ancient Chinese Curse is “May You Live in Interesting Times.”” by The Elephant's Child

Most political junkies like me, and a good percentage of the blogosphere, have spent the last two days surfing the web trying to understand what happened, and why. Not a fortuitous endeavor. Everybody’s a little hysterical, analysis leaves a lot to be desired and prognostication is all over the place. And a large percentage of the commentary is just plain nuts.

Herman Cain is demanding a third party, some Democrat is saying the 2016 election will be between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and many are just insisting that the country is lost, and America is no longer the land of the free. Everybody who wanted someone other than Romney in the primaries is sure if only their candidate had gotten the nomination, all would be different. The problem, say others, is the missing white voters. Their absence is variously attributed to vote fraud, voter suppression, disinterest, and their not being counted yet.

Michael Medved — who is such a political junkie, he reads political statistics instead of thrillers, like the rest of us do — said today that voter suppression is a direct result of negative advertising. Too much negativity directed at a candidate means that voters get sick of it all and just stay home. There was certainly a lot of negative advertising from the Obama campaign.

Mitt Romney was guilty of outsourcing, being a corporate raider, a murderer, too rich to care about anyone but other rich people, guilty of destroying companies for his own benefit, being mean to his dog, guilty of having a “dancing horse” that only extraordinarily rich people could afford, putting an elevator for a car in his California house, and being a flip-flopper on every issue, as well as a liar, and shipping jobs overseas. Really.

Beyond that, it was all Bush’s fault. Apparently after Obama invested 4 years and millions of dollars in blaming George W. Bush for the financial crisis, most people actually believe the financial crisis was Bush’s fault. [hint: after the election in 2008, but before the inauguration George W. Bush had to draft a check for the auto industry. GM had only days of cash left. That was TARP. George Bush bailed out the auto industry, and the recession officially ended in June of 2009] Whatever came after June 2009 goes on Obama’s record.

There’s a lot for complainers to complain about. But there are twinkles of light in the gloom. A 51-48 % victory is not a mandate, particularly when Obama avoided telling anyone what his second term plan of action is. Whether he admits it or not, he knows that he won that small victory on the basis of negative advertising. The huge, immense, really difficult problem is the economy, which he has made a mess of. Barack Obama does not understand economics and refuses to listen to those who do. If he makes a mess of it this time, he can’t blame anyone else, and his failure will expose his record for all to see, as well as make clear who and what the Democrats stand for.

Starting January 1, Americans face a $494 billion tax increase, the highest ever in a single year. The average American household will see its taxes go up by $3,800 in 2013. The extra income from the payroll tax holiday will go away, the child tax credit will be halved to $500, and the threshold for deduction for medical expenses will rise to 10%. All these wonderful ideas will cost the economy over 2 million jobs and increase unemployment, and we will probably face a new recession.

Benghazi is not going away, and Fast and Furious is not going away, nor is all the wasteful spending on useless “clean energy.” Second terms are always worse than the first.

Opponents around the world have taken the measure of Obama and know more about his limits. Naive in his first term about foreign policy, he was sure that being the ‘”not-Bush” was sufficient to make him popular around the world. Wrong. Hillary is leaving, Eric Holder is probably leaving. Susan Rice has lost any legitimacy, and a lot of others will probably want to avoid a second term disaster. We are going to live in interesting times. Very interesting indeed.


5 Comments so far
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You make it sound as if the Democrats were the only ones who engaged in negative advertising. Hardly!


Comment by Subsidy Eye

I’ve reviewed a lot of the advertising direct from the organizations who put it out. I saw very little negative advertising even from the PACs on the Republican side. Democrats negative advertising was based on lies, and when the lies were pointed out, they continued to run them. Pointing out failures of the Obama administration, if accurate, are not negative advertising. Attacks based on lies and twisted to create a false impression in the mind of the viewer are beyond the pale. That’s defamation. Simple criticism is fair on either side. If you have some example of negative Republican ads, I’d be happy to address them.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Well, for one, there were a number of ads taking Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Clumsy, yes. But in the context it was clear that what he meant by the “that” I highlight in bold above was “those” — i.e., the roads in bridges. That makes much more sense.

Of course, I believe that Obama is much more likely to stress the role of government in the economy than would a Republican candidate. But I cannot believe (and I don’t think most voters did) that he denies that people who have built up businesses have in fact built “that”. I doubt you would agree with me on that.

Romney also didn’t seem to be too concerned about getting his facts right about welfare reform.


But it was not just the campaign ads that affected voters, in my opinion, it has also been the willingness of the wing nuts to go over the top. For me, the iconic example are the attacks on Sandra Fluke, by right-wing commentators, which were primarily exaggerated, defamatory and baseless attacks on her person, and much less on the merits of her actual arguments.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Bad link. Try this one:


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Yes. The idea that you didn’t build that because you used public roads is not clumsy, but absolutely false. There were many ads by people who built their own businesses through hard work and suffering and worry. Obama glorifies government work as “public service” and a “higher calling” than mere business. He worked for about a year after graduation at a job writing copy for foreign newsletters, which he hated. His only real job. He has no sense that in America, he is a public


existing on the hard-earned taxes of working people. He has no respect for business, doesn’t respect business people. He is opposed to profit, and has no understanding that if there is no profit there is no business, and no taxes to support public servants. He has so little understanding of where government money comes from that he has no compunction about wasting it nor overspending. His views are far from simply stressing the role of the government in an economy. The You didn’t build that ads were ones that particularly resonated with the American people.

Yes, I know you were offended that Sandra Fluke was called a slut by Rush Limbaugh. She was a 30 year old student at a Catholic institution that did not offer birth control, as she well knew before she enrolled there. Her appearance at a “hearing” was completely phony. There was no congressional committee that would hear her, they set up a pretend hearing for the cameras to attempt to make an issue out of Republican opposition to paying for women’s contraception. They used that as a campaign issue, telling young women the lie that the Republicans were trying to take away their right to use contraceptives. [Contraceptive use has been settled law for 60 years] Fluke’s interest, as a women’s studies graduate is in “reproductive rights”— abortions on demand, paid for by the government, and paid contraceptives. Rush apologized for his use of the slut word, something you continually ignore. Democrats lied to low information women voters, telling them that Republicans want to deny them abortions, something that only the Supreme Court could do. They put out ads about “your lady parts.” I was embarrassed by Fluke, shocked that any woman would allow herself to be used that way, and offended at the suggestion that the public should pay for anyone’s contraception. Anyone who attempts to become a public figure can expect some attacks, it goes with the territory. Fluke deserved it.

Every source has noted the relentlessly negative campaign Obama waged. He lied shamelessly about his record, told minorities that Republicans wanted to deny them the vote, told women that Republicans wanted to take away their rights to use contraceptives and have an abortion, told Hispanics that Republicans wanted to deport them and relentlessly attacked Mitt Romney’s character. Didn’t mention a second term except to need to finish what he’d started.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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