2012 Tuesday: When Obama attacks, which Republican can answer him?

This quote from an Associated Press story about President Obama’s “modest American Dream” summarizes the whole general election in my view:

“He can’t run on change because he’s the incumbent, and he can’t paint too rosy a scenario because things aren’t that rosy,” said John Geer, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University. “He’s got to come up with a theme that appeals to voters, especially middle-class voters, alleviates their fears and gives them reason to believe the future will be better.”

That’s the whole game this fall. If you can’t run on change anymore, you have to run on staying the course. But do most Americans believe we’re on the right course when things, as Greer noted with understatement, are not that rosy?

The Obama strategy appears two-fold: Spend tax money to convince Americans he can be considered one of them, and brand his Republican opponents as people who can’t.

To the latter end, Obama supporters paint Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch 1-percenter and Rick Santorum as a zealot bent on imposing his beliefs on the country.

I’ve written before about Romney’s challenge of talking about his private-sector experience and wealth in a way that resonates with Americans (at least those not residing in an Occupy tent). Santorum, the latest frontrunner, now faces a challenge of his own. He can’t run away from his beliefs, as the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn explains, in part because he’s made his career as a conviction politician, but also because “the media won’t let him”:

When Mr. Obama used a prayer breakfast earlier this month to suggest that the Gospel of Luke was a call for raising taxes on the wealthy, the press corps yawned. When Mr. Santorum complained about the “phony theology” behind the president’s worldview, suddenly it landed on every front page and lead every news show.

So what’s the answer? The answer is that when Mr. Santorum discusses these issues, he needs to fold them into his larger narrative about the free society. That narrative has to do with pointing out the dependency that comes with an expanding federal government, the importance of family, and the threat to freedom when, say, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or a Health and Human Services secretary can substitute their own opinions on these issues for the judgment of the American people.

I think that’s sound advice. Republicans ought not bother trying to nominate someone who can’t be attacked — no such candidate or person exists — but rather someone who is capable and willing to answer the charges. As much as anything, that is the ability primary voters ought to be seeking in the remaining candidates.

– By Kyle Wingfield

260 comments Add your comment

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 21st, 2012
12:22 pm

In orde of decreasing effectiveness:

Gingrich
Santorum
Romney

Karl Marx

February 21st, 2012
12:28 pm

Face it Republicans have no nobody. My prediction considering what the Republicans have to run is Obama wins reelection.

ragnar danneskjold

February 21st, 2012
12:28 pm

McGurn is consistently thought-provoking, think he is right on this one too. Santorum has a “nice guy” factor that makes the false allegations seem implausible, think that works strongly in his favor too.

Just saying..

February 21st, 2012
12:52 pm

Dow >13,000.
Not certain Obama needs to attack anyone. Certainly not any of the four left on the Republican stage, busy attacking each other.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
12:52 pm

The majority of this country will never vote for a social conservative theocrat, so no matter what the narrow-minded GOP primary voters think, nominating Santorum will be akin to Barry Goldwater – Part Deux come November

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 21st, 2012
12:54 pm

Marx, you’re forgetting that the Republican will be running against Obozo and his failed economic policy, trillion-dollar deficits, Obozocare, and record numbers on the dole.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
12:54 pm

The Dow no longer has any relevance to the overall health of the American economy, nor of the mindset of the average voter as to it’s level.

ByteMe

February 21st, 2012
1:01 pm

Spend tax money to convince Americans he can be considered one of them, and brand his Republican opponents as people who can’t.

Who actually allocates the tax money to be spent? Oh, right, the REPUBLICAN-held House is involved in that, aren’t they? I’m not convinved your statement is correct.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
1:11 pm

ByteMe, the majority of the money allocated for stimulus spending was voted on by the DEMOCRAT-controlled House before 2011 when the GOP took control.

Epic failure on your part, and a poor deflection at best.

philosopher

February 21st, 2012
1:18 pm

None of these! They are all irrelevant, embarrassing buffoons…why can’t the GOP bring forth some intelligent, articulate, relevant leaders? I have no doubt there are plenty out there.

Logical Dude

February 21st, 2012
1:22 pm

Quoting: ” Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch 1-percenter and Rick Santorum as a zealot bent on imposing his beliefs on the country.”

And I have not seen either make me think that they are any different than your description, Kyle.

Pizzaman

February 21st, 2012
1:29 pm

Not so philosopher. If the Republicans had such a person they’d e out there. Reagan’s been dead a long time. And there isn’t another Republican that comes close.

Linda

February 21st, 2012
1:34 pm

If Obama can’t run on Hope & Change any longer, maybe he can run on Cope & Pain.

Linda

February 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

Referring to extending the payroll tax cuts, Obama said, “And when gas prices are on the rise again – because as the economy strengthens, global demand for oil increases – and if we start seeing significant increases in gas prices, losing that $40 could not come at a worse time.”

Instead of contributing to social security, employees take home more money to pay for gas. Looks like the social security trust fund is now being used to subsidize the oil companies. Novel!

@@

February 21st, 2012
1:43 pm

The media is doing the same thing to Santorum that they did to Palin.

Couric: But ideally, you think it should be illegal for a girl who was raped or the victim of incest to get an abortion?

Palin: I’m saying that, personally, I would counsel the person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in. And, um, if you’re asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anyone end up in jail for having an … abortion, absolutely not. That’s nothing I would ever support.

Couric: Some people have credited the morning-after pill for decreasing the number of abortions. How do you feel about the morning-after pill?

Palin: Well, I am all for contraception. And I am all for preventative measures that are legal and safe, and should be taken, but Katie, again, I am one to believe that life starts at the moment of conception. And I would like to see …

Couric: And so you don’t believe in the morning-after pill?

Palin: … I would like to see fewer and fewer abortions in this world. And again, I haven’t spoken with anyone who disagrees with my position on that.

Couric: I’m sorry, I just want to ask you again. Do you not support or do you condone or condemn the morning-after pill.

Palin: Personally, and this isn’t McCain-Palin policy …

Couric: No, that’s OK, I’m just asking you.

Palin: But personally, I would not choose to participate in that kind of contraception.

It’s the liberal media’s “GOTCHA” approach. Personal preference doesn’t necessarily extend into public policy.

According to the AJC’s leftists, Palin was for abstinence as the only means of contraception and, under no circumstances, would she support abortions.

Too many democratic voters are easily misled by a leftist media.

Just saying..

February 21st, 2012
1:44 pm

Tib @ 12:54: “The Dow no longer has any relevance to the overall health of the American economy, nor of the mindset of the average voter as to it’s level.”

I get that there’s a difference in who makes real money with a rising Dow, but better 401 statements are relevant, and helpful, to any incumbent President.

@@

February 21st, 2012
1:45 pm

Oops! Too much slant in my comment.

schnirt

Karl Marx

February 21st, 2012
1:54 pm

Lil’ Barry I’m not forgetting but the Repub’s have no one running that hasn’t done something similar. I don’t want to see Obozo back either but the Republican party may make it happen anyway. Look at what we have. Romney which is Obozo lite, Gingrich who make mistakes by supporting Pelosi. Saint Santriney who wants to run for pope not president and Ron PORK Paul who is a nut case. Out of everyone including Obama I’d bet if “None of the Above” was a choice it would get the most votes.

St Simons - we're on Island time

February 21st, 2012
2:00 pm

which Republican can answer?

I think Hank WIlliams Jr is articulating your positions pretty well
and Mark Hatfield
and Neal Boortz

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

February 21st, 2012
2:03 pm

No Republican has ever presided over, much less proposed, trillion dollar deficits.

Three years. Five trillion in new debt.

Moron Obozo receptacles think that’s sustainable.

I guess it is if you’re one of the 50% who pay no income taxes.

Pay your fair share, Democrats.

Mr. Holmes

February 21st, 2012
2:05 pm

The media is doing the same thing to Santorum that they did to Palin.

Yeah, “the media” is weird about, y’know, like, printing what people actually say, rather than what they tell you they were trying to say. Santorum, verbatim: “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. Many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s OK, contraception is OK. It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

But please, don’t let me get in the way of your scapegoating.

MarkV

February 21st, 2012
2:09 pm

As long as the economy will keep showing a positive trend, the Republicans will loose. They cannot keep arguing that the economy is bad because of Obama, because they cannot prove that it would be better with anybody else in the Oval Office. It would be as if the Greeks yelled at Pheidippides: “Your running time is not good, you should have run faster.” And he would answer them: “I was elected to make this run, I had to overcome the obstacles on the way, and this is the best that I could do. You were not selected, you have not made this run, and you cannot prove that you would have run faster, so shut up.”

Just saying..

February 21st, 2012
2:10 pm

Election 2008: Without the consequences of eight years of Bush, there is no President Obama.

Election 2012: With Republican Party leadership, we are given Obama’s second term.

MarkV

February 21st, 2012
2:13 pm

Should have been “lose,” not loose.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
2:18 pm

“They cannot keep arguing that the economy is bad because of Obama, because they cannot prove that it would be better with anybody else in the Oval Office.”

Thank you, Captain Obvious. :roll:

In case you didn’t know, this is the same argument that could be made by EVERY incumbent, MarkV. The “You can’t prove . . .” argument is the lamest on the planet, which is why it is discounted in every debating class in the world.

In politics, for every argument there is a corresponding counter argument. It just needs to be focused and articulated to appeal to the dumb masses.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
2:20 pm

“Election 2008: Without the consequences of 30 years of failed economic polices of Democrats, and inattention of Republicans, there is no President Obama.”

Fixed your typo. No thanks needed.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
2:24 pm

Santorum is displaying a severe case of “Open Mouth” disease. He can’t help himself in portraying himself as the theocrat he really is.

Plays well to a limited portion of the GOP base, which might be enough to get him the nomination, but will turn off many in the General election.

That being said, the media is more than willing to harp on his every word at this point, if only to derail any chance for Romney to get the nod.

MarkV

February 21st, 2012
2:24 pm

Kyle, you wrote that “the press corps yawned” when Obama talked about Gospel of Luke, but Santorum’s complain about “phony theology” was newsworthy. You would not consider it newsworthy if Santorum considered Gospel of Luke “phony theology?” I am not saying that Santorum meant that – it is you who have put it in that context.

carlosgvv

February 21st, 2012
2:28 pm

Happy Black History Month, Kyle!!!!!!!

Just saying..

February 21st, 2012
2:33 pm

Tib @ 2:20

I’m beginning to understand why you hang out on this blog:

In person, people can see you coming.

@@

February 21st, 2012
2:33 pm

Mr. Holmes:

Take 9 minutes to listen carefully.

“This [abortion] is a decision that should be made by the people of this country. It should not be usurped by unelected judges.”

His objection is to the judicial process used.

I’ll bet you’re one of those leftists who repeated misinformation regarding Palin, aren’tcha?

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
2:34 pm

I think the dichotomy Kyle is pointing out is that when the current Disaster-in-Chief uses a religious reference to pursue his own agenda he gets a pass, but when Santorum mentions even a whiff of theology in a remark, his gets played ad nauseum and he gets hammered for it.

Both were stretching in their overreach, but it is the current Disaster-in-Chief who gets the pass.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
2:35 pm

Not even sure what your 2:33 means, Just saying . . .

jconservative

February 21st, 2012
2:36 pm

My 2 cents.

President Obama is not going to run for anything. He is going to run as “the lesser of two evils”.
He will run a negative campaign against the Republican nominee. He will make the campaign about the Republican challenger.

The President will get the 46% of voters who are democratic/left in their political lean. What he will campaign for is the votes of the 8% who are the true independents, who always decide presidential elections. He will paint the Republican nominee as “out of the mainstream”. And if he gets the independent vote, he is reelected. End of story.

And at present the Republican candidates are creating hours of TV tape declaring to the world that they are more Far Right, more out of the national mainstream, than the other guy. And that small number of Republicans who actually participate in the primaries and caucuses are pushing them further to the Right. And all on tape to be replayed in negative political ads.

Since 1952 every successful Republican nominee, with maybe the exception of Reagan’s 1st election, has been a “moderate” on the national political spectrum. (And Reagan became a big government devotee as soon as he took the oath of office.) But the Republicans this cycle seem determined to break with that proven formula.

And remember the independents in 2008 voted for a liberal Obama and in 2004 voted for a rather liberal Republican George W Bush. A far right Republican nominee will not get the votes of the independents who are politically middle of the road.

My 2 cents.

Kyle Wingfield

February 21st, 2012
2:54 pm

MarkV @ 2:24: First, Tiberius @ 2:34 is correct as regards the media. Second, Santorum was not saying he “considered [the] Gospel of Luke ‘phony theology’; he was saying Obama’s interpretation of a passage from Luke is phony theology.

Mr. Holmes

February 21st, 2012
2:54 pm

@@: Perhaps you have trouble reading. I posted Santorum’s stated views on the legality of contraception, not abortion. Do you deny that, as a practicing Catholic, he has stated categorically that he believes artificial contraception is wrong? And do you further deny he has said states should have the right to ban artificial contraceptives?

I await further obfuscation from you.

Do what??????

February 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

The GOP needs someone to just go after Obama with the gloves off. Newt seems to be the only one to do that so far.

Joe The Plumber Too

February 21st, 2012
3:03 pm

What the libs are forgetting is when all the dust settles down and a Republican Nominee is chosen, it won’t just be urkle attacking the Nominee, it’ll work both ways. The (true) attacks that will be leveled at the pretender in chief will include his re-writting bankruptcy law, the loans given to Solendra and others, the fast and furious mess and his admistrations involvement in Agent Terry’s death. His Justice Department and the stooge he put in charge of it will hurt him far more than anything else. Libs, keep believing that urkle is the only one with ammo in this fight. The Republicans have more than enough to send that egotistical fool running back to that armpit of a city he excaped from. Four and out, bring on the eviction papers, urkle and me-shell are toast.

Linda

February 21st, 2012
3:03 pm

Israel is threatening to bomb Iran & the Obama adm. is accusing Iran of not playing by the rules & not being fair. Where have we heard that before?

ByteMe

February 21st, 2012
3:14 pm

ByteMe, the majority of the money allocated for stimulus spending was voted on by the DEMOCRAT-controlled House before 2011 when the GOP took control.

Stimulus spending — check this with economists — only lasts about 4-5 quarters. After that, the effect is negligible. So you’re saying nearly 3 years later, it’s still having an effect? Poor you and your team then. Turned out you were wrong that the stimulus wouldn’t work.

ragnar danneskjold

February 21st, 2012
3:17 pm

Dear Homes @ 2:54, you deceive with half-truths. Can you possibly deny that Santorum has voted for funding for contraception? He undoubtedly does believe that contraception is wrong, and he undoubtedly believes states are sovereign entities, not subject to control by the Federal government. Why do you believe the states ought to be controlled by the Federal government? As the topic is contraception, what part of your anatomy is doing the thinking?

MarkV

February 21st, 2012
3:23 pm

Kyle Wingfield @2:54 pm: “Santorum was not saying he “considered [the] Gospel of Luke ‘phony theology’; he was saying Obama’s interpretation of a passage from Luke is phony theology.”

Funny, I have heard Santorum’s spokesman say that Santarum was referring to environmental issues, and Santorum himself confirmed that.

Jefferson

February 21st, 2012
3:24 pm

GOP supporters, again your support goes for naught.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
3:26 pm

ByteMe, Stimulus I didn’t spend half their money in the first 2 years (remember no shovel-ready jobs?). Stimulus II, III and Mini Stimulus’ IV & V are on-going.

Which is why if there is no Stimulus VI, the economy tanks again, because borrowing in the short term only gets you short-term results. Local governments even now are wondering how to pay for all those positions they didn’t get rid of as a result of Federal dollars.

Another poor effort on your part. Do you even pay attention to what goes on in D.C.?

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
3:27 pm

“Funny, I have heard Santorum’s spokesman say that Santarum was referring to environmental issues, and Santorum himself confirmed that.”

Different clarifications. Please try to keep up, will ya?

Jefferson

February 21st, 2012
3:27 pm

I mean, you have been sold a pig in a poke again.

Ernest T. Bass

February 21st, 2012
3:28 pm

Too many democratic voters are easily misled by a leftist media.

Yes. Look at what they did to Palin.

They asked her hard hitting questions like ” What magazines or newspapers do you read ? ”

Thats a tough one folks. No wonder Palin flubbed it.

Tiberius - Your lightning rod of hate!

February 21st, 2012
3:29 pm

Oh, and ByteMe? I don’t HAVE a team. I’m a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. Neither of the two main parties fit me very well, which is why you’ll see me rail against both.

Rafe Hollister

February 21st, 2012
3:29 pm

Santorum today talked about Satan coming for America. Using Satan in an argument is the same as using Hitler, the first one who does loses the argument. The GOP will be destroyed if Santorum is nominated.

Romney can beat Oblamer, if he will use his ads to attack Oblamer for the foul shape of this country and for his broken promises. If he uses his campaign funds to respond to the never ending attacks from the media, the Oblamer PACS, and the Oblamer lieutenants he loses. Barry will have more money to attack than he and he will soon exhaust all his money defending himself. Offense wins this race for the GOP, never ending, never ceasing attack ads pointing out the harm being done by this Disaster in Chief.

Hope and Change do not work this time because he now has a record of only adverse change and little hope for America if he is reelected. If he was honest, his slogan would be if you think I harmed America the first four years just wait til I get reelected.

Mr. Holmes

February 21st, 2012
3:37 pm

Dear ragnar, you are not so naive as you pretend. When we want to establish something firmly as The Law of the Land, we make it a federal law. When someone wants to repeal a federal law through the back door, they say it’s an issue best left up to states.

Has Santorum cast a vote over the years that supported funding for contraception or otherwise increased access to contraception, even marginally? Who knows, you seem to have the facts on that. But answer me this: If a Democrat were saying he personally feels handguns are wrong and that the right to bear them should be left up to states … how do you suppose conservatives would frame that person’s position on gun control?