Slime-and-Smear Politics Gets a New Lease on Life

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 25, 2012

The Obama administration has gotten predictable. Whenever anything good happens on its watch, it takes the credit. Whenever anything bad happens, it tries to find a scapegoat.

Thus, we are told that George W. Bush is still responsible for the sluggish economy, despite the fact that Barack Obama has been in office for the past three years. And we are also told that the Koch brothers are responsible for higher gas prices, despite the fact that the claim is utterly nonsensical. This kind of behavior would be shameful and embarrassing if it came from the puppet leader of a banana republic, let alone from the president of the United States. Kudos to Philip Ellender for ripping Team Obama a new one over the latter’s attempts to slime, smear, and demagogue their candidate to a second term in the White House.

Amusingly enough, the effort to claim that the Koch brothers want higher gas prices falls flat if one just looks at the facts:

The Koch brothers have long been a focus of Democratic attacks, but this email seems to contradict at least one Democratic congressman’s complaint about the Kochs.

During the Keystone pipeline debate before Christmas, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., suggested that Republicans only wanted the Keystone pipeline built because it benefited the Kochs. “[T]here’s a terminal owned by the Koch brothers, [by] one of their corporate subsidiaries, located at the beginning of this pipeline up in Alberta, Canada, and then along the proposed route of this pipleline are other Koch brother refineries that will process [oil],” Johnson said on the House floor in December. In theory, increasing oil imports from Canada would lower the price of gas by providing a new supply, insulated from shocks in the Middle East.

Why isn’t it a surprise that Team Obama and its allies in Congress don’t understand this? And let’s not pretend that Hank Johnson is the only congressional Democrat who just doesn’t get how gas prices work, though to be fair to Hank Johnson, he doesn’t get a lot of things. In fact, Hank Johnson’s confusion on this issue is significantly less worrisome than the president’s own befuddlement:

President Obama seems to think share Ellender’s understanding of the oil markets, even if his campaign manager pushes a different idea in fundraising letters. “Over the last three years, my administration has approved dozens of new pipelines, including from Canada,” the president said Thursday — apparenty defending himself from criticisms stemming from his decision to block the Keystone pipeline — during a speech on his efforts to bring down the price of gas and increase American energy independence.

Need I mention that if we had a news media that was actually interested in calling this administration on the carpet every time it betrayed either a lack of understanding regarding the issues of the day, or a lack of honesty in discussing those issues, said news media would never lack for work?

More here, including the hilarious note that the latest slime-and-smear against the Kochs is titled “They’re obsessed.” Team Obama doth project too much, methinks. Beyond all of the demagoguery, this entire spat reveals that for all of the fumbling clumsiness of the Republican party–including its presidential candidates–the Obama campaign knows that the president remains a weak candidate. He may yet win against still weaker candidates, but there remains the distinct possibility that the bad economy and the uncertain world situation will cause Americans to demand a change at the top. Thus this campaign against the Kochs; it’s easier to demonize rich people who disagree with you than it is to actually deliver on your promises of bringing about positive change. Having failed at the latter, the Obama campaign is now focusing on the former.

Previous post:

Next post: