Charlie Leonard: Inalienable Rights
August 23, 2012
An extraordinary “real-time e-book” was published this week.
According to the publishers, “Obama’s Last Stand” follows the president’s reelection campaign of President Barack Obama as it struggles to find the winning formula in a political landscape that has changed dramatically since his history-making victory in 2008.”
The book was written by a senior writer for Politico, an online news publication that’s dedicated exclusively to politics and elections. It’s also widely respected by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Like several insider campaign books that have been written before, the writers of “Obama’s Last Stand” gained extraordinary access to the people running the president’s re-election campaign. What makes this book so unique, however, is that it was published before, rather than after, Election Day.
What’s more, the writers themselves seem genuinely surprised at how willing the president’s men and women were to tell them, for publication, exactly what the president has said in private about his record, his opponent and the tenor of his campaign.
Most of the news coverage of the book in the last 48 hours has focused on a number of excerpts in the book where the president goes on rants with his aides about how much he personally dislikes Mitt Romney.
But the one passage that really got my attention was early on when the president was letting off steam with several of his aides about what troubles him most should he fail to be re-elected.
According to the authors, “Some advisers saw in the president a deep uneasiness, bordering on anxiety, that Romney would win and steal credit for all of Obama’s hard work. If the former Massachusetts governor won, he told people around him, Romney would reap the political benefit for the inevitable economic turnaround he foresaw in the middle of his second term.”
Shortly thereafter he repeated his concern to a group of White House visitors: “I’m not going to let him win … so that he can take all the credit when the economy turns around.”
And later in the book there’s more about how the president and his team keep repeating how they saved the economy but people would never understand or give him them the credit they deserved – which is why they chose instead to run a campaign that would try to discredit Romney rather than talk about the president’s accomplishments.
Here, in his most private moments, we have the president of the United States saying he believes he saved our economy from ruin and that his policies are about to unleash an economic recovery. Maybe a year from now, maybe a little longer, but the president believes it’s coming. And, by the way, he wants to be there when it happens so that he gets the credit.
Nowhere is there any second-guessing on the president’s economic policies, or how he might change course if things don’t improve soon. In this most up-to-date account of the president’s opinions about the economy, you find no sense that he believes he needs to do more to reverse our 3 1/2 years of record unemployment, the housing collapse, our economic stagnation or his record deficits.
If you believe what has been reported in this book – and I do – the president believes that an economic recovery is inevitable, it’s imminent and it’s the result of his policies.
That’s when I went on the president’s re-election website to learn more about why he feels this way.
It’s also worth noting that the president’s campaign website is filled with pages and pages of information – more than a dozen about Mitt Romney’s career – but just one page titled: “Jobs and the Economy.”
At the top of the page it says, “When president Obama took office, he both addressed the immediate economic crisis and laid the foundation for a U.S. economy that’s built to last.” And it continues by saying, “The president is taking aggressive steps to put Americans back to work and create an economy where hard work pays and responsibility is rewarded.”
That lead really got my attention so I decided to read the whole page that his team had devoted to the president’s economic accomplishments.
Here’s what it says: It says the president saved the auto industry, that his stimulus plan is creating jobs, that he’s protecting consumers from financial service companies, that he’s regulating Wall Street, investing government money in new energy technologies and, finally, that he’s helping small businesses by giving them 18 different tax breaks and more affordable health-care choices under Obamacare.
I kid you not. That’s all of it. That’s everything the president has to say about jobs and the economy on his watch and presumably why he thinks our recovery is just around the corner.
Elsewhere on his website you can learn about how in his next term the president intends to increase taxes, adopt new regulations on the energy and financial sectors and continue expanding unfunded government entitlement programs. But I guess those things have nothing to do with jobs and the economy.
After all, as we learned in Politico’s book this week, the president has already fixed those things. Now it’s just a matter of who gets the credit.