Saturday, September 15, 2012

Perfidious Obama, Assaultive Obama

It goes without saying that if you're trying to unseat an incumbent, you have to portray that opponent as having failed in fundamental ways -- pursued policies that were ineffectual or counterproductive, wasted resources, wounded relationships, shown lack of resolve or energy, etc. etc.

For the past twenty years, Republicans, schooled in large part by Newt Gingrich, never stop there. Opponents in their portrayal are always depraved, malevolent, disloyal, craven, fundamentally hostile to real Americans.  

Greg Sargent, Steve Benen, Jamelle Bouie and others have laid out with precision the ways in which Romney taps into birther and Manchurian candidate fantasies about Obama to portray him as unAmerican, socialist, committed to "European' values, sympathetic to or submissive before aliens of various stripes, hostile to the upstanding businessmen who make America great.  I want to paint with a broader brush for a moment.  It seems to me that Romney's cartoon villain Obama has two main sets of vices.

There's perfidious Obama, operative mainly abroad, who sympathizes with enemies, betrays American interests, and therefore shames and disgraces the U.S. before the world. And then there's aggressive Obama, more active at home, who kicks, guts, attacks, and denigrates the middle class, small businessmen, the country as a whole, and our dearest aspirations. The categories bleed into each other, as aggressive Obama tends to sucker-punch, i.e., betray those he should support and protect, and both Obamas operate at home and abroad, albeit in different proportions. That said, here's a loose compendium.

Perfidious Obama

1. September 11, 2012, "Statement On Developments In Libya and Egypt"

 "I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
2. August 30, 2012, nomination acceptance speech, RNC 2012
President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus, even as he has relaxed sanctions on Castro's Cuba. He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments, but is eager to give Russia's President Putin the flexibility he desires, after the election

3. May 3, 2012,  comment on the release of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng from the U.S. embassy to a Chinese hospital, from whenc he expressed fears of further oppression of self and family, May 3:

'The reports are, if they are accurate, that our administration wittingly or unwittingly communicated to Chen an implicit threat to his family and also probably sped up or may have sped up the process of his decision to leave the embassy," Romney said. "If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom, and it's a day of shame for the Obama administration."

4. March 22, 2010, statement upon passage of the Affordable Care Act (rendering Romneycare a blueprint for national health insurance, fulfilling a hope that Romney had publicly expressed on several occasions).
America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power. President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation — rather than bringing us together, ushering in a new kind of politics, and rising above raw partisanship, he has succumbed to the lowest denominator of incumbent power: justifying the means by extolling the ends. He promised better; we deserved better.

Aggressive Obama

July 17, 2012, speech, Irvine, PA
President Obama attacks success and therefore under President Obama we have less success and I will change that....
Romney said that Obama is “changing the nature of America,” and denigrating success and achievement."
July 10, 2012, speech, Grand Junction, CO
Mitt Romney on Tuesday told voters in western Colorado's largest city that the president's tax plan is a "kick in the gut" for a nation that fell further behind under the liberal policies of his administration.
July 6, 2012, press conference after poor jobs report June unemployment numbers
WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- Mitt Romney called a rare press conference this morning to respond to June's tepid jobs report, calling the unchanged unemployment rate "unacceptably high," and repeatedly referring to the numbers as a "kick in the gut."
January 21, 2012, victory speech after Florida primary:
Like his colleagues in the faculty lounge who think they know better, President Obama demonizes and denigrates almost every sector of our economy.

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