Monday, April 30, 2012

Neptune Spear, Politics, and the 2012 Election

The Osama bin Laden killing is an absolute net positive for the Obama administration and should be highlighted as evidence of President Barack Obama’s leadership on national security matters. After all, Republicans and the Republican primary candidates have been criticizing Obama’s foreign and national security policy for months and it is appropriate for the Obama campaign to respond to those attacks. What better way to do this than to show a contrast between Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney using Romney’s own words against him?

And to the complaint by Republicans that the Obama campaign is “turning a unifying event into a divisive political attack”: in 2004, the Bush reelection campaign did not hesitate using the events of 9/11 for campaign purposes. Who can forget Vice President Richard Cheney warning that a vote for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was asking for another 9/11: It’s absolutely essential that…on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because ifwe make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again.” And perhaps the most powerful ad of the 2004 campaign featured President George W.Bush hugging and comforting Ashley Faulkner, an Ohio girl who lost her mother in the attack on the Twin Towers.

So, yes the Obama reelection campaign should milk the very successful bin Laden killing for all it’s worth. The fact remains that after eluding justice for almost a decade, it was President Obama who made the difficult call to green-light Operation Neptune Spear. Not all commanders-in-chief would have made the same tough decision.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Obama's GSA-Inspired Headache

Politico Arena Topic: Vegas Spending Spree an Administration Embarrassment?

The General Services Administration Vegas spending spree may not be a migraine for Democrats and the Obama administration yet, but it’s definitely a big headache. Anytime a Federal government scandal happens, the president in charge gets blamed regardless of how complicit they are. And a scandal involving a government agency wasting taxpayer money plays directly into the narrative that Republicans love to tout about Democrats—that they are big government-loving, money-wasting, free-loaders. And what better way to corroborate this in the minds of critics than by throwing a huge Las Vegas kumbaya-get-in-touch-with-your-feelings-and-build-our-team-tax-payer-funded-fantasy-trip for GSA employees? (Too bad they didn’t hire a mind-reader to read the public reaction if this went public).

The Obama administration has to exercise massive damage control at this point. A slew of very public denouncements and firings needs to happen—sooner rather than later. With the Secret Service prostitute scandal also making headlines, the Obama administration has to demonstrate it has no tolerance for this kind of behavior, has no empathy for the perpetrators, and is in control of the Federal government. Failure to contain the fallout would make it a bigger part of the presidential campaign—something the Obama campaign will desperately want to avoid because this an issue they lose.

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