Mr. Obama’s Enemies List — First Since Nixon

10 days ago, Kimberly Strassel wrote about a short list Obama had compiled of people that had donated money to the Romney campaign. Basically, her article states this “enemies list” was the first of its kind since the Nixon years (David Parker also cited it here).

One of those Romney donors was Tom O’Malley of Florida. He wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal that the Journal published today. It is is very brief:

Kimberley Strassel’s April 27 Potomac Watch “The President Has a List” reports some serious allegations. I have not made too many lists in my more than 50 years in business, so I was quite surprised to see my name on President Barack Obama’s “enemies” list.

My most recent business venture, PBF Energy, bought the closed-down Delaware City Refinery, spent $400 million to fix it and reopened it with a United Steel Workers unionized work force. More than a thousand high-paying jobs were created in a state where unemployment had become a real problem.

PBF also bought a refinery in Paulsboro, N.J., one that was scheduled to close. Thus, more high-paying unionized jobs were saved in New Jersey.

If this gets you on the enemies list, it would be good for the country if the list were expanded. It would seem that I got on the list because I gave to the Romney PAC. I have also run a fund-raiser for New York’s own senator, Chuck Schumer, who I believe is still a Democrat. I hope this doesn’t get me on another list, because the amount involved exceeded the Romney contribution.

I can’t believe that the president has authorized such a self-destructive strategy and can only suggest that he and his administration may want to disown the author of the list, whoever that may be.

Tom O’Malley, Executive Chairman, PFB Energy, West Palm Beach, Fla.

Nixon was desperate when he maintained an enemies list. So is Obama.



Governor Mitt Romney is Keeping President Obama Off Balance

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

By all assessments, Governor Romney has surprised all political experts. The general election officially started last Tuesday and just one month ago, politicos of all stripes were predicting a Mt. Everest campaign for Governor Romney because of how he had been “damaged” from the primary battles. And guess what? All credible polls have Mr. Obama and Governor Romney at dead even odds — those surveying “likely voters” have Romney ahead. For perspective, at this exact point in the campaign in 1980, Reagan trailed President Carter by eight points.

So? The point is that Governor Romney is doing a lot right! As we have said many times here at MRC, Governor Romney is an outstanding strategist and planner. He has surrounded himself with some of the best advisers any candidate could hope for. Even so, we will see journalists, politicos, pundits, and editorial boards attempt to shape or influence his campaign strategy and message right up to the November election. They are Americans too and they want what’s best for our nation as well.

The following from the WSJ is one example. I have read many other articles in which Romney advisers have indicated he will be outlining key policy positions as the campaign progresses, so these suggestions below were internalized long ago. It seems obvious to me that one of Gov. Romney’s strategies is to keep Mr. Obama off balance, of which he is doing a masterful job!

Last Thursday, The Wall Street Journal editorial board published their central opinion piece titled, “The Romney Opportunity — Running on biography and the economy won’t be enough.” I recommend reading the entire piece by clicking the link just above.

With Newt Gingrich finally leaving the GOP Presidential race, Mitt Romney is now closer to realizing the ambition he has so long pursued: He has an even-money chance to become America’s 45th President. He’s more likely to fulfill that ambition if he overcomes his cautious nature and runs a campaign that is equal to America’s current political moment.

***
This will not be the instinct of Mr. Romney or his close-knit group of advisers. Looking at the polls, they see a nearly even race, with President Obama below 50% despite the beating Mr. Romney took in the primaries.

The temptation will be to assume the public has decided to fire the incumbent and so run a campaign to become the safe alternative. Take no policy risk, stress Mr. Romney’s biography, his attractive family and the seven habits of highly effective businessmen, and then hammer away on the economy.
[...]
On the economy in particular, such a larger argument would fit the country’s current mood. The public’s anxiety isn’t merely about the failures of the last three years, as important as it is for Mr. Romney to score this Administration for its failed stimulus, crony capitalism, hyperregulation, soaring debt and ObamaCare.

Americans are more deeply worried than at any time since the 1970s about their country’s long-term prospects. Why aren’t middle-class incomes rising? Why are nonmilitary public institutions failing—from K-12 education to entitlements?

Mr. Obama understands these anxieties, even if he has no new answer for them. So his diversionary re-election strategy will be a combination of class warfare, more government subsidies (free student loans!), and personal attacks on Mr. Romney for being wealthy. Mr. Romney will need allies who can rebut these attacks.

But he’ll find it easier to defeat Mr. Obama’s argument—even to transcend it—if he offers his own economic narrative that reaches back to the mistakes of the Bush Administration to explain how we got here and how he can get us out. Politically, this will help shield Mr. Romney from Mr. Obama’s inevitable attempt to link the Republican to the Bush era. Such a critique also has the advantage of being true.

Before Mr. Obama’s stimulus, Mr. Bush joined with Nancy Pelosi and Larry Summers on the blunder of “targeted, temporary” tax cuts. Mr. Bush began playing business favorites for ethanol and green energy fads. Republicans in Congress spent like Democrats and protected Fannie Mae and the housing lobby. And Mr. Bush and most Republicans embraced an easy-money Federal Reserve that favored Wall Street and asset bubbles at the expense of real middle-class incomes.

The editorial says some nice things about last week’s speech by Governor Romney.

But the speech was policy-free. To be credible, a reform agenda has to have some reform substance.
[...]
He has already endorsed enough of Mr. Ryan’s premium-support plan to have to defend it, and Mr. Obama is vulnerable with his Medicare cuts and unaccountable rationing board that are part of ObamaCare. Mr. Romney won’t win the election on Medicare, but even a draw will be a political victory. Leading on the debate will show voters he is willing to take on difficult issues and give him a reform mandate if he wins.

***
One of Mr. Romney’s trickiest challenges will be how to handle Mr. Obama’s, er, veracity. More than any President we’ve seen, this incumbent is willing to say things that aren’t in the area code of the truth. Thus he gives himself credit for the natural gas drilling boom, the deficits are still Mr. Bush’s fault, Mr. Obama has never raised taxes, and “green jobs” in his dream economy are blooming by the millions.

Mr. Romney can’t let the President get away with this, or Mr. Obama will conjure a vision of unreality that enough voters might believe. The challenger has to find a way to mock the mirage of an “economy built to last” without sounding arch or personal. He needs his version of Reagan’s “there he goes again.”

For all of his challenges, the most important political news is that Mr. Romney has a fighting chance to win. The incumbent’s accomplishments are unpopular and the economy is failing average Americans. To win the GOP nomination, Mr. Romney has shown reserves of tenacity and discipline. To win the White House, he’ll need to show a larger vision and the nerve to pursue it.

Veepstakes Speculation is Complete Entertainment

For about a month, I have been intending to write this piece but didn’t have the courage to write it until today; not until somebody smarter than I wrote what I have been wanting to.

Credit: The Economist

I acknowledge right up front that I will likely anger some people that read this. That is not my intent at all. There is no question that the choice of a vice president by Governor Romney is very important for America as that person could become president in a heartbeat. Absolutely! However, I argue here that there is almost no value whatsoever in publicly speculating and debating who that person will be, many months ahead of when Governor Romney will make the decision. It is a well accepted truth that the selection of a veep has little to no impact in a presidential contest, except in the negative (remember unprepared Palin?).

My assertion is that all public discussion and debate of who Governor Romney’s choice in a running mate will be is a complete and utter waste of time. Especially when considering the many hours a week devoted to this one topic in radio and television talk shows. That said, I believe there are two exceptions to this assertion, both of which I consider to be of minimal value. The two exceptions are:

  1. Entertainment Value
  2. Potential Candidate Response Value

First — the entertainment value. This is the main reason we see all the public speculation and discussion. We all enjoy speculating about everything. It is fun to think about who might be catapulted from a given strata to number two! I love the speculation myself. Heck, Nate developed our site’s “Veep Madness” awhile back — It is brilliant and fun! I see all the public speculation about the veep choice much like using Instagram (I just got it on my Droid). It is fun, a novelty, and a complete waste of time, except for the entertainment value. It is much like watching Modern Family. There is no value in spending time watching Modern Family except being with those you love and to laugh, right?

Second — the potential candidate response value. Since so many possible veep candidates are asked the question, one of them might say something really stupid like, “Are you kidding me? I would love to be picked as vice president by Mitt…I think I am the best person in all of America for that position!” So, there is a little value in the public discussion on this point — very little and that value is as a negative determinant.

Do you trust Governor Romney’s judgment in this decision? I do. What person alive has better analytic skills than Governor Romney? What about judgment? Exactly. Do you think the person he ultimately chooses will be properly vetted? Okay then. What value is there in all the public debate and speculation? There is none. It is pure entertainment value. That’s it. Am I right? Am I wrong?

Look what Karl Rove wrote in the every first three paragraphs of his latest Wall Street Journal opinion piece:

We’ve entered the silly season when vast numbers of words will be expended on who Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate should be. Since the actual announcement is likely to be made shortly before the Aug. 31 GOP convention, we’ll have to endure three-and-a-half months of pundits handicapping prospects.

This exercise is largely useless. Who thought at this point in 2000 that the vice-presidential nominees would be Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, or in 2008 Sarah Palin and Joe Biden?

The person who matters most in this decision, Mr. Romney, appears to be approaching it with appropriate seriousness, appointing a longtime trusted aide, Beth Myers, to vet possible running mates.

[emphasis added]

I think Rove is wrong on one point. The exercise is not entirely “useless.” There is entertainment value, right? I mean the sitcom Modern Family makes a lot of money and Instagram is worth $1 billion — so there is value — its not entirely useless! I love to disagree with Karl Rove! Here are two of my favorite lines from Rove’s Op-Ed:

Having played a role in this process, I know that if done well this will be a political proctology exam for each individual considered. [...] This is not an activity for the squeamish or reticent.

Entertaining! And to the point of having almost no influence whether a presidential candidate will win or lose the election?

Running mates haven’t decided an election in more than a half-century. For example, research by Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, political scientists at the University of California, Irvine, suggests that the net impact of the vice-presidential picks in 2008 was roughly one-half of one point and is generally less than one percentage point. Presidential elections are rarely that close.

So why do we all spend hours and hours speculating on something of no value? His last sentence wraps the piece well: (more…)

McGurn: Romney’s Leadership Trumps Obama’s Likability

William McGurn is an editorial writer for The Wall Street Journal — he writes the “Main Street” column for the Journal. Two days ago, he wrote “The ‘Likable’ Barack Obama”

Mr. Obama on Cloud 9 / Photo: AP


Subtext:

In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on the incompetence of Jimmy Carter, a good and decent man. That should be Mitt Romney’s strategy in 2012.

Between now and November 6th, I expect to see many comparisons to the Carter/Reagan contest of 1980; there are just too many similarities to ignore. However, I think Obama will eventually be critiqued by historians as a greater failure by comparison. That said, we can never allow ourselves to become complacent in our work to elect Mitt Romney as our next president.

There are tens of millions of voters out there that will vote on a smile, charisma, a good speech, and “likability.” Barack Obama can never be underestimated.

By WILLIAM MCGURN

How likable is Barack Obama?

Very likable, it seems, at least in contrast to his GOP rival. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released a few days ago, Americans by a more than 2-to-1 ratio say the president is more “friendly and likable” than Mitt Romney.

Look at the photo above — what’s not to like? In this American Idol age in which image is everything, it is no wonder that the casual voter will feel perfectly fine voting for the one they think they know rather than for the new guy. Especially if the new guy likes the Red Sox.

Many Republicans, and especially conservatives, can find these numbers hard to credit. Some note that the poll sampling favors Democrats and thus artificially inflates the president’s numbers. Still others have come to dislike President Obama so much that it makes them suspicious when they read numbers indicating they are in the minority.

The focus on likability is a mistake. It’s a mistake, first, for Democrats if they believe likability will be enough for Mr. Obama to win re-election come November. It’s even more of a mistake for those Republicans who believe that the only way to defeat the president is to get fellow Americans to dislike him as much as they do.

McGurn referred to “the unwitting arrogance” of Hilary Rosen and how the Obama administration trashed her in order not to appear connected to her.

Republicans ought not make this mistake with Mr. Obama. When Americans look at the president, many see a loving father with personal values they admire and an attractive wife and children. The administration understands this, which is why a recent Internet campaign ad asking voters to “help the Obamas stand up for working Americans” did so over a photo of the president, his wife and his two daughters.

I have seen this ad all over the Internet. It is most appealing. Mr. Obama is a nice guy!

Resurgent Republic, a conservative-leaning public research firm, found the same likability at work in recent focus groups of independents who had voted for Mr. Obama in 2008. The good news for Mr. Obama is that “these Obama Independents still like the president.”

The bad news for him is that “[w]hen asked what they like most about the president, participants refer almost solely to personal traits like his character and speaking skills. At best, they credit President Obama for trying.”

That helps explain why the same poll that showed the president more likable than Mr. Romney went on to report that a majority nonetheless thought the former Massachusetts governor would do a better job with the economy.

I would like to speak to one person who thinks that Mr. Obama would do a better job with the economy over Governor Romney — I have not met one yet.

Mr. Obama ought to be worried. Sixty-four percent also say the country is on the wrong track; [...] a number of Americans who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 are open to the idea that someone else could do a better job.

Now, the president’s likability doesn’t mean Mr. Romney shouldn’t go on the offensive. It does mean he ought to attack hardest where Mr. Obama is at his weakest: his failed policies. [...]

He also suggests conservatives drive home Obama’s incompetence.

Mr. Romney is hardly the first Republican presidential aspirant to take that tack against a Democratic incumbent. In 1980, Ronald Reagan zeroed in on Jimmy Carter’s competence. Plenty of Americans thought President Carter was a good and decent man too—but by election day Mr. Reagan had persuaded them that his rival just wasn’t up to the job.

The day after that election, Mr. Reagan’s pollster, Richard Wirthlin, explained the campaign this way: “We saw the opportunity for a role reversal—that is, by the end of the campaign, I think we came very close to having people look upon Ronald Reagan as more presidential than Jimmy Carter.”

Mr. Romney now has a similar opportunity. Certainly he can point out that Mr. Obama has no excuses. If ever the stars were in alignment for liberal Democratic policies to shine, it was during the first two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency, after he had handily defeated John McCain and been sent to Washington with huge, veto-proof majorities in Congress.

Mr. Romney already has the votes of those who dislike Mr. Obama. The votes he needs are there for the asking: folks who like Mr. Obama but have serious doubts about his leadership as president.

[emphasis added]

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Humor? (hat tip to Steve Miller from Wisconsin for this image below the fold) (more…)

Truthletting of Mr. Obama — One Lie at a Time

Fenway Park, Monday

What about this segment from Hannity Wednesday night? As I was thinking of a title for this short post, all kinds of descriptions came to mind. The one that kept coming to my mind was “SMACK DOWN!” — Malkin style.

We try to stick to brief video clips here on MRC, but I decided to post this 6:58 video because a) it is so good, and b) it so typifies the deception coming from the Left in this country right now.

Tamara Holder was asked by Hannity this question, “Cite to me one area of success, in the economy, where we are better off than we were four years ago?”

Holder answers the question with complete confidence. And she is totally wrong. Her answer indicates she is one of three things: 1) Ignorant, 2) Mistaken, or 3) Lying. Since her comeback to Hannity was one of absolute confidence (dare I say arrogance?), I believe she intentionally posits a lie — absolutely!

But why does she lie? Because many TV viewers believe the lie. It is happening all the time in the old media. Obama’s team knows that a large number of voters will perform no primary research to prove or disprove what they watch on television. If Obama surrogates can make false claims with impunity, it doesn’t matter if they are later proven to be false — the damage is done when the voter hears the lie in the first place.

Oh, and one of the best parts of this clip is Tamara Holder’s typical condescending rhetoric as she used this phrase, “The average person does not really understand . . . “ Oh really?

We, “the average” people, simply don’t understand what? That you Tamara are elitist and are doing everything you can to deflect and distract for Mr. Obama?

FACT: Obama took office January 2009 when unemployment was at 7.8 percent; we are currently at 8.2 percent. She answered the question by saying unemployment is lower. My recommendation to every visitor to this site is to listen very carefully to every “fact” quoted by any liberal that is blindly bidding for Obama between now and November 6th. They are not above the blatant tactics exhibited last night by Holder. BTW, see three related posts here, here, and here.

Note: Malkin is over the top in stating Mr. Obama is not a nice guy and for correcting Gov. Romney in this regard. Gov. Romney is a gentleman and a statesman and Malkin is angry that the old media is always giving Obama a pass in his attacks of those who are working hard for America. I forgave her.

“I always say the truth is best even when we find it unpleasant. Any rat in a sewer can lie. It’s how rats are. It’s what makes them rats. But a human doesn’t run and hide in dark places, because he’s something more. Lying is the most personal act of cowardice there is.” ~ Nancy Farmer, The House of the Scorpion

Mitt Gives Santorum a Hand (kind of) — Sarah’s Equanimity

On the eve of the Wisconsin Primary, I had to inject a little humor. If you are wondering, this is an actual photograph — and no, there was no PhotoShop effects used in this image. For details surrounding this event and to put a face to the arm, check below the fold.

Sarah Davis exchanging handshake with Senator Santorum -- Photo by Christina Davis

You may recall that Rick Santorum dropped in to the Jelly Belly Candy Co. last week for a fund raiser. Sarah just had to pay him a visit! (she has a lot more guts than I!) See second photo here ——> (more…)

What’s at Stake Tuesday, Long and Short Term

The Romance of Delegate Math

If you’re like me you find yourself looking at polling data and calculating delegate counts in your head. If Mitt takes so many delegates in DC, Maryland and Wisconsin, that puts him at a new total of X, extending his lead over Santorum by Y, and making Rick need Z percent of the future delegates to win…. Okay, maybe you’re not like me.

It may sound boring to the uninitiated, but it’s the math behind propelling the most qualified candidate in the race to his party’s nomination, step one in replacing Barack Obama.

What’s at Stake Tuesday: Long View

What Obamacare teaches us. In case you don’t think replacing Barack Obama is a big deal, reflect back on the biggest political story of this week. Okay, not the open mic incident. I’m referring to our hearing our president’s Solicitor General argue to the Supreme Court why Obamacare’s Federal mandate is constitutional. The traditionally conservative justices asked for a rationale that could possibly limit Congress’ power under the commerce clause should they accept his argument. Meanwhile, the traditionally liberal justices tried their best to supply that rationale. Based on the impressions of those reporting, the decision appears headed for a familiar 5-4 vote against the law, with the four traditional conservatives on one side, the four traditional liberals on the other, and middle-of-the-road Justice Kennedy likely voting with the conservatives. But time will tell.

Shape of the Court to come. As someone concerned about finding real limits to Congress’ power (history proving we need limits to preserve our freedom), and knowing the general police power was intended to be reserved to the states (making the difference between Federal Obamacare and state Romneycare night and day), I thank my lucky stars we had presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush to appoint the four conservative justices currently on the court. The liberal justices? Two from Clinton, two from Obama. By way of preview, the next president may have a chance to replace not only the lead conservative on the court in Scalia (currently 76 years old) and a staunch liberal on the court in Ginsburg (79), but iconic swing justice Kennedy, who has made the difference in many 5-4 decisions (currently 75 years old). In other words, who the president is matters, a lot, not just in signing and vetoing laws, but in appointing justices to the court who can protect the Constitution for a generation to come (a combined half-century now for Scalia and Kennedy).

MORE REGARDING THE SUPREME COURT AND AN ESTIMATE OF DELEGATES AWARDED TUESDAY BELOW! (more…)

Obama’s Unemployment Albatross / Romney Best as Health-care Expert / TRENDS

NOTE: See “Feelings about Mitt Romney” below the fold, at the end of this post.

Chris Wallace is one of my favorite political interviewers. He is tough and will generally stay with a line of questioning until he gets answers. Yesterday he interviewed David Plouffe, one of Obama’s senior advisers. The interview spanned a number of topics, the most important being unemployment and gasoline prices.

This video clip is over 14 minutes, but at 13 minutes, five seconds, Wallace put up a chart that shows the unemployment rate at the time three incumbent presidents lost an election “seeking another term” over the last 36 years. The implication of course being that a key reason each of these one-term-only presidents lost reelection was due to the unusually high unemployment rate.

The unemployment rate today is 8.3 percent, not including those who want to work, but who stopped looking — that the government stopped counting. Following were the unemployment rates at the time of the presidential elections:

  • Gerald Ford — 7.8%
  • Jimmy Carter — 7.5%
  • George H. W. Bush — 7.4%

The future does not look good for Mr. Obama if history is any indication!

Of course, many things factor into the ability of any incumbent president to win reelection, but the unemployment rate is a very important number and Obama knows it. You can tell by Plouffe’s demeanor and answer that the Obama Administration knows it. Top that off with high and rising gasoline prices and we have a current political climate that is worse than that of President Carter when Governor Reagan beat him with a mandate. We have seen both Gingrich and Santorum become desperate in their rhetoric; I will venture a guess that their desperation will pale in comparison to Obama’s in October and November.

Kimberly A. Strassel WSJ Op-Ed

Many editorials have emerged these past two weeks basically advising Gov. Romney to get out ahead of the opposition and provide more details to illustrate how his Massachusetts health-care plan is different from ObamaCare. In my opinion, the differences are many and very important — but I believe Gov. Romney’s lack of focus on healthcare in his speeches right now is a good strategy. He is succeeding without it and the risks associated with bringing it up are not worth it right now.

That said, Ms. Strassel makes some valid points in her Op-Ed. The first half of the piece discusses how she feels Gov. Romney’s lack of clarity in describing/defending his health-care plan against charges from Santorum and others has hurt him, but then she ends the piece by arguing Romney can turn it to his benefit (see Paul Johnson’s excellent article below to compliment this point). Strassel: (more…)

Wealthy Conservatives’ Full-Court Press to Defeat Obama and Elect Majorities in the House and Senate

I don’t want to come off as presumptuous, but among my friends, family, and colleagues at least, it seems most people would rather that super PACs not exist at all and that presidential elections be controlled by the largest number of average voters rather than by the select super wealthy. That would be my preference.

Harold Simmons (photo: Amy Simmons)

Wishes aside, super PACs do in fact exist. They are reality in this cycle. And they will have an enormous influence in shaping voter perception.

Monica Langley of The Wall Street Journal wrote an excellent, thoroughly researched article about the influence of super donors in the Republican party. In particular, she examines the intentions of the 80-year old Texas multi-billionaire, Harold Simmons.

I wanted to share this article, in part, because it reveals the shear determination and will of a very powerful man to ensure defeat of Obama in November, along with his administration’s terrible policies.

Few people want to defeat President Barack Obama more than billionaire Harold Clark Simmons, who is willing to spend many millions of dollars in the quest. As it happens, campaign rules now give him the opportunity.

Watching a TV news report that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was rising in polls last month, Mr. Simmons wondered about the prospects of the former Pennsylvania senator. He called his personal political muse, Republican strategist Karl Rove.

“Is he worth investing into his super PAC?” Mr. Simmons asked. He rose from his leather recliner in the den and stood at a bay window overlooking swans gliding on a lake encircled by 17,000 tulips. “Does he have a chance?”

“Yes, I wouldn’t count him out,” Mr. Rove said. Mr. Simmons’s wife, Annette, who was keen on Mr. Santorum, promptly donated $1 million to his super PAC, cash badly needed for an ad blitz ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries.

I found it fascinating that two spouses would decide to financially support two different presidential candidates. See “Biggest Spender” chart at the end of article… (more…)

Interested Californians? March 27th in Irvine

The Orange County Register is a conservative (they say libertarian) newspaper covering southern California. They ran an article yesterday referring to the March 27th event in Irvine:

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney will be coming to Orange County next Tuesday to bolster his campaign purse, with a fundraising luncheon at a private home in Irvine’s exclusive Shady Canyon.
[...]
I’m tracking down whether Romney will hold any public events, if I can get an interview, and whether I can post the information here on how to contact the fundraiser.

No need to wait for details from The Register reporter. Just contact Amanda and she will get you all dialed in. She informs me she has a few slots left ———> CONTACT AMANDA