German military strategist Karl von Clausewitz said that “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” The reverse is also true. Politics is the continuation of war by other means.
In a war, a battle cry is a chant taken up by members of a military unit which is designed to arouse aggreassion and esprit de corps on one’s own side and to intimidate the enemy. In politics, slogans are used for much the same reason; to rally supporters and put the opposition on the defensive. Some of these slogans are well worn, having been used for many elections.
For example, Republicans for years have accused Democrats of being “tax and spenders,” of “strangling the free enterprise system with excessive regulation,” of “bloating the size of government,” of “being soft on terror,” of “coddling illegal immigrants.”
Well, suppose none of these charges is true? Would Republicans stop shouting these slogans? In the case of the Barack Obama presidency, none of them is true.
Has Obama raised taxes? Rachel Maddow points out (1/13/12), “In February of 2009, President Obama instituted the largest tax cut or one of the largest middle class tax cuts in history . . . The administration also brags on having passed 17 tax cuts specifically for small businesses.”
In his State of the Union address (1/24/12), Obama said, “Right now our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile.”
Has Obama strangled free enterprise with excessive regulation? Maddow (1/13/12) notes, “In January of last year . . . Obama issued an executive order and wrote an op-ed in the rabidly right wing Wall Street Journal calling for government-wide pruning of unnecessary or overly burdensome regulations.”
Obama (1/24/12) stated, “I’ve ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense. We’ve already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion in the next five years.”
Has Obama bloated the size of government? Maddow (1/13/12) comments, (Obama) wants to take six different major federal departments or agencies that deal with business or trade, the Commerce Department, also the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Trade and Development Agency, all these agencies that have overlapping responsibilities for different parts of business and trade, he wants to take all of these six agencies and consolidate them.”
Maddow continues, “The White House says that consolidation would not only simplify and streamline government, it would save about $3 billion and it would cut 1,000 jobs off of the federal payroll over a period of 10 years (through attrition).”
Is Obama soft on terror? To answer this question, Maddow showed a sequence of four video clips.
“REPORTER: U.S. and Yemeni officials tell CNN it was a U.S. drone strike that killed radical Yemeni American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on Friday.”
“REPORTER: A top al Qaeda leader and potential successor to Osama bin Laden is reportedly among nine people killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwest Pakistan.”
“TV ANCHOR: U.S. drone strikes killed at least seven al Qaeda linked militants in Yemen overnight. One of those killed was Ibrahim al Bana, one of the most dangerous militants in Yemen.”
“OBAMA: Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.”
Does Barack Obama coddle illiegal immigrants? Maddow notes, “the Obama administration has deported a record number of illegal immigrants three years in a row.”
Obama (1/24/12) said, “I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer border crossings than when I took office.”
So, none of the traditional charges that Republicans make about Democrats proves to be true in the case of the Barack Obama presidency. Does that mean that the GOP will say, “Oh, excuse me, I guess we were wrong.”? Will Republicans stop making these claims about Obama? Hardly.
GOP candidates are used to making these assertions. Republicans are used to hearing them. They are part of conservative folklore about politics and Democrats. Old beliefs die hard. So, these charges will continue to be hurled at Presient Obama, despite evidence to the contrary. We can only hope that fair-minded voters will not take these charges at face value, and will look at the facts that disprove them.
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