The Strategic Failure of the Obama campaign

We are one week into Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan. A number of polls are coming out telling a variety of stories about what it means. But one thing is clear: Barack Obama’s campaign has had several significant strategic failures this summer. And they failed to define Paul Ryan out of the gate with their Mediscare tactics. And they failed to define Mitt Romney this summer with a huge campaign spend.

The Obama campaign hoped to use the summer to define Mitt Romney. They spent $25 million in May ads. Obama spent $58m in June. What effect did it have? At the end of July, Purple Strategies, a bipartisan polling firm, found (PDF) that Romney has pulled ahead of Obama, even as Obama’s favorability ticked up slightly. Obama’s out of control campaign spending yielded nothing, just like his out of control government spending yielded nothing.  Politico even described that poll as giving the Ryan pick a small bump for the Romney campaign.

But then the bombshell came. After a week of Mediscare attacks on Paul Ryan, they were not able to dislodge seniors in Florida. According to a poll, reported by the Palm Beach Post:

But two Florida polls conducted since Ryan’s selection suggest that voters who are 65 and older support Ryan and his budget plan more than younger voters do. A third Florida poll released this week doesn’t include an age breakdown, but finds the state’s voters agreeing more with Ryan’s description of his budget and Medicare plan than with Democratic criticisms that it would “end Medicare as we know it.”

The challenge for the Obama campaign is that if they can’t scare older voters away from Republicans with dishonest attacks on Paul Ryan’s proposal to save Medicare, then they are trapped. Paul Ryan turns out to be a big win. He is a candidate who is deeply connected to the industrial midwest which will be the swing region of the country this election. The Purple Strategies poll found that he helps most in Ohio. He will also help with young voters disenchanted and under-employed by the failure of the Obama economy.

So the Obama campaign has failed in the two main tests. They hugely overspent Romney to disqualify him. They failed. And they have tried for three years to attack Republicans with the Ryan budget. And the polls in Florida, the place that should be most vulnerable to attacks, show that that failed.

Chicago, you have an emergency.

Obama sells out American values and interests in Russia

I applaud House Speaker John Boehner for his letter to President Barack Obama on Russia. I also applaud him for holding fire on Obama while he was abroad at an important security summit. It much more clearly articulated Obama’s shocking behavior with respect to Russia than any other criticism to date:

The Russian government has not lived up to its obligations to support the world community in reining in the rogue nations of Iran, Syria, and North Korea.  On the contrary, Russia has at times offered support for these dangerous regimes.  And it is increasingly evident that Russia is intent on expanding its boundaries and power through hostile acts – including invading a neighboring American ally.

But there’s a broader point here. When Obama told Medvedev to be patient until after the election, he was abandoning our Ambassador and Obama’s friend, our national security and that of our allies, human rights in Syria, and our respect for democratic values. Indeed, he was abandoning his own dignity and that of our country.

What do I mean?

A month ago, two things happened with respect to Russia that should force us to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with the country. Just a month ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Russia “despicable” for defending the butcher of civilians in Syria at the UN Security Council. And the state run media compared our ambassador, Obama’s long-time ally, to a pedophile.

This ambassador isn’t just some diplomat. McFaul was an Obama advisor during his campaign and a member of the National Security Council. This was a personal insult to our Ambassador, the President of the United States, and the United States itself. Instead of defending his own friend and Ambassador, Obama goes supine and offers Russia concessions.

In fact Putin’s whole election campaign was a nationalist attack on the United States. The attack on McFaul was part of a strategy. So after months of attacking the United States and our ambassador, to win an election, Obama offers concessions.

These weren’t just any elections. These are to a government whose end is in sight after astounding levels of fraud. In the December elections, Putin’s party, United Russia engaged in “ frequent procedural violations and instances of apparent manipulation, including several serious indications of ballot-box stuffing,” according to the OSCE. Hundreds of thousands of protesters entered the streets to object to the debasement of democracy. About Putin’s own election, the OSCE said, “There was no real competition and abuse of government resources ensured that the ultimate winner of the election was never in doubt.”

Obama’s offer of “flexibility” was made in spite of personal insults,  insults to our country, and insults to our values. Hopefully Americans will realize the consequences of this foreign policy that takes neither ourselves nor our allies seriously.

Never let it be said that Obama takes governing seriously

Last night President Barack Obama spoke at two “star-studded” Hollywood fundraisers. And, according to Politco, he noted to a group of people who make their quite nice livings in theatrics that “people … like … poetry” rather than the “prose” of governing.

Mentioning former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s quip that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose, Obama said he’s written more of the latter than the former in his first three years in office. ”We’ve been slogging through prose for the last three years,” he said. “People, they like the poetry.”

Monday night, I did a radio show opposite a Democrat. The Democrat made very clear that he viewed the budget that the President released on Monday as an entirely political document. It made no claim to solving any long-term problems faced by the country. According to this consultant, the primary purpose of the budget was to make an argument about “fairness” and “who should pay.”

We are in the midst of poetry, I fear. And, as President Obama once said, it is all “just words.”

Fraud in signature collection for Obama and Hillary in 2008

Getting a candidate on the ballot in Indiana is not easy. I know, from first hand experience, that many campaigns struggle to do it. But it now appears that in 2008, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took a short-cut. They just cheated.

It turns out that someone appears to have forged the signature of former Democratic Governor Joe Kernan on the petition to get Barack Obama on the ballot:

Former Gov. Joe Kernan says a signature on a petition to place Barack Obama‘s name on Indiana’s 2008 primary ballot isn’t his, putting him among dozens of dubious signatures found in a newspaper’s investigation.

While that is the appealing headline that gets lots of attention, the more nefarious story is that it happened on a more systematic basis:

The Tribune first reported Sunday that it and the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter had found pages from Clinton and Obama petitions with names and signatures that appear to have been copied by hand from a petition for 2008 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jim Schellinger. The petitions were filed with the Indiana Election Division after the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office verified individuals’ information on the documents.

Copying pages and pages of names demonstrates a certain level of disregard that is a little hard to imagine. Every time I have seen a campaign doing ballot access, there is relatively continuous oversight as campaigns try to figure out whether they need to spend more money for paid collectors, where they need to engage more volunteers, etc. It is hard for me to imagine how a campaign could be so disengaged from the details that something like this would happen. Especially to two campaigns (and the only ones on the ballot, as I recall). This is important stuff. You don’t just let the local guys do it without oversight.

Especially when the local guys are Chicago and northern Indiana, where there appears to be a pattern of  systemic fraud.  I noted some precinct results from Chicago that got over 100% turnout in previous elections. Both the Alderman and his dad went to prison for misusing their office for personal gain. Chicago is notorious for ongoing problems. And Indiana had one of the most remarkable cases of election fraud in the 2003 East Chicago Democratic mayoral primary in which 32 people plead guilty to varieties of election fraud.

Fast forward to Obama’s next failure in Copenhagen

Obviously, Barack Obama had a bad day in Copenhagen today with the failure of Chicago’s bid for the Olympics. Of course, many Chicagoans were mixed. (I was negative for a variety of reasons including the inability of the South Side, where I lived for 8 years, to handle the infrastructural requirements)

But it is worth pointing out that this story will not go away. In two months, Obama will be heading back to Copenhagen for another failure, the UN Climate Conference. He will be going to Copenhagen empty handed, with no climate change bill to show. Indeed, the top story right now at the official site notes that “the honeymoon appears to be over” and compares Obama to former President George W. Bush. Indeed The Economist echoes this language, in a story dated yesterday entitled “The honeymoon between Europe and Barack Obama’s America is over.”

European Union politicians and officials are dismayed that, with a poisonous debate over health reform chewing up his political capital in Congress, Mr Obama may not secure legislation fixing binding emissions targets for America before the climate-change summit in Copenhagen in December. They also think the health-care impasse explains the lack of progress on the Doha world-trade talks. Nor did Europeans enjoy the G20 meeting that Mr Obama hosted in Pittsburgh. Despite hogging a ludicrous number of seats at the table, the EU came away with only one big Europe-specific agreement: alas, for them, it was a plan to cut their voting power at the IMF.

Today, we saw that Obama’s international celebrity is not matched by his international clout. And this message is going to get nailed home with issue after issue, whether it is Afghanistan, the next Copenhagen meeting, or whatever else happens.

It must be tough having to live with a persona and a rhetoric that has nothing to do with reality.

President Obama, maybe you could talk to your general while you are in Europe

Tonight, President Barack Obama goes to Copenhagen to lobby for Chicago to get the Olympics. And incidentally, if he succeeds, Chicago real estate developers, like many of his donors, will get zillions in development contracts from the city. The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass noted that  Obama is “asking the IOC to make Mayor Richard Daley the king of Chicago for life.”

It turns out that today, his pick to lead our troops (and all of NATO) in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, will be in London giving a speech about how to win in Afghanistan. I guess McChrystal he is allowed to tell our allies how we can win, just not Congress or the White House.

Perhaps Obama could stop by London and listen to the speech or chat with his general? But perhaps not. According to Kass, Obama told the head of NATO that he doesn’t have the time to chat about NATO and Afghanistan:

“I’ve got so much to do here,” Obama told NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen in the Oval Office on Tuesday. “So, I will sleep on the plane. I’ll land. I’ll speak. Then fly right back.”

What Obama’s tire treatment teaches us about his administration

 At 9:18 Friday night, I got an alert from the Washington Post. Barack Obama had slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Barack Obama’s handling of this issue shows several things. First, it shows a real contempt for China, trade policy, and his international relationships more broadly. As one of my liberal friends likes to point out, this action demonstrates how the Democrats really cannot be taken seriously as the internationalist party.  And it shows the implicit contradictions in much of Obama’s economic policy.

Let’s start with the time of its announcement: 9:18pm. Really? Saturday morning in China? This tells us who the audience for this policy was: the United States. It tells us that Obama is willing to subordinate trade policy — just before the G-20 meeting no less — to domestic politics that he is embarassed about. Why else release this late on a Friday night?  (note that by statute, he didn’t have to release a response to International Trade Commission recommendations until the 17th. He picked this timing)

By Saturday afternoon, China issues scathing remarks. By Sunday, they announce counter-tariffs against US chickens and auto-parts. We have a full scale trade war.  And Asian and European markets open the week down. Thanks Barack…

So Barack Obama started a trade war for entirely domestic reasons, jeopardizing the recovery, and is afraid of the headlines here, why he doesn’t care about international opinion. How does that sound?

Now, why chickens and auto parts? I don’t immediately understand the chickens, although I suspect it is a pretty good business for us, but I understand auto parts. 

US auto parts are made by the United Autoworkers, the same union that Obama bailed out when he bailed out GM and Chrysler, two companies that had becoming wards of their union pension funds. In addition to hurting the unions, this could hurt the auto manufacturers themselves, which Obama owns and which opposed the tire tariffs because it will raise their costs. First he screwed the car companies for the UAW, now USW. Perhaps this is a lesson for when he takes over the health care sector. 

So where was the logic in this? He helps his allies, with one hand, but hurts them with the other. He hurts the economy. He hurts the government run companies. And he opens a trade war just in time for the G-20 to create real structural damage to the US economy.

Furthermore, this is how he is celebrating the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. By sticking the knife in the economy.

That’s change I can believe in.

4
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

What Obama’s tire treatment teaches us about his administration

 At 9:18 Friday night, I got an alert from the Washington Post. Barack Obama had slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Barack Obama’s handling of this issue shows several things. First, it shows a real contempt for China, trade policy, and his international relationships more broadly. As one of my liberal friends likes to point out, this action demonstrates how the Democrats really cannot be taken seriously as the internationalist party.  And it shows the implicit contradictions in much of Obama’s economic policy.

Let’s start with the time of its announcement: 9:18pm. Really? Saturday morning in China? This tells us who the audience for this policy was: the United States. It tells us that Obama is willing to subordinate trade policy — just before the G-20 meeting no less — to domestic politics that he is embarassed about. Why else release this late on a Friday night?  (note that by statute, he didn’t have to release a response to International Trade Commission recommendations until the 17th. He picked this timing)

By Saturday afternoon, China issues scathing remarks. By Sunday, they announce counter-tariffs against US chickens and auto-parts. We have a full scale trade war.  And Asian and European markets open the week down. Thanks Barack…

So Barack Obama started a trade war for entirely domestic reasons, jeopardizing the recovery, and is afraid of the headlines here, why he doesn’t care about international opinion. How does that sound?

Now, why chickens and auto parts? I don’t immediately understand the chickens, although I suspect it is a pretty good business for us, but I understand auto parts. 

US auto parts are made by the United Autoworkers, the same union that Obama bailed out when he bailed out GM and Chrysler, two companies that had becoming wards of their union pension funds. In addition to hurting the unions, this could hurt the auto manufacturers themselves, which Obama owns and which opposed the tire tariffs because it will raise their costs. First he screwed the car companies for the UAW, now USW. Perhaps this is a lesson for when he takes over the health care sector. 

So where was the logic in this? He helps his allies, with one hand, but hurts them with the other. He hurts the economy. He hurts the government run companies. And he opens a trade war just in time for the G-20 to create real structural damage to the US economy.

Furthermore, this is how he is celebrating the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. By sticking the knife in the economy.

That’s change I can believe in.

4
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

What Obama’s tire treatment teaches us about his administration

 At 9:18 Friday night, I got an alert from the Washington Post. Barack Obama had slapped tariffs on imports of Chinese tires. Barack Obama’s handling of this issue shows several things. First, it shows a real contempt for China, trade policy, and his international relationships more broadly. As one of my liberal friends likes to point out, this action demonstrates how the Democrats really cannot be taken seriously as the internationalist party.  And it shows the implicit contradictions in much of Obama’s economic policy.

Let’s start with the time of its announcement: 9:18pm. Really? Saturday morning in China? This tells us who the audience for this policy was: the United States. It tells us that Obama is willing to subordinate trade policy — just before the G-20 meeting no less — to domestic politics that he is embarassed about. Why else release this late on a Friday night?  (note that by statute, he didn’t have to release a response to International Trade Commission recommendations until the 17th. He picked this timing)

By Saturday afternoon, China issues scathing remarks. By Sunday, they announce counter-tariffs against US chickens and auto-parts. We have a full scale trade war.  And Asian and European markets open the week down. Thanks Barack…

So Barack Obama started a trade war for entirely domestic reasons, jeopardizing the recovery, and is afraid of the headlines here, why he doesn’t care about international opinion. How does that sound?

Now, why chickens and auto parts? I don’t immediately understand the chickens, although I suspect it is a pretty good business for us, but I understand auto parts. 

US auto parts are made by the United Autoworkers, the same union that Obama bailed out when he bailed out GM and Chrysler, two companies that had becoming wards of their union pension funds. In addition to hurting the unions, this could hurt the auto manufacturers themselves, which Obama owns and which opposed the tire tariffs because it will raise their costs. First he screwed the car companies for the UAW, now USW. Perhaps this is a lesson for when he takes over the health care sector. 

So where was the logic in this? He helps his allies, with one hand, but hurts them with the other. He hurts the economy. He hurts the government run companies. And he opens a trade war just in time for the G-20 to create real structural damage to the US economy.

Furthermore, this is how he is celebrating the anniversary of the death of Lehman Brothers. By sticking the knife in the economy.

That’s change I can believe in.

4
Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)