Obama Camp: Look, This Platform Mess Isn't the President's Fault

Posted: Sep 06, 2012 1:17 PM

Nothing ever is, it seems.  Here are David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett contradicting Politico's reporting on CBS this morning by stating that Obama just found out about the DNC's platform foibles yesterday, then bravely blaming the snafu on "others." 

Someone isn't telling the truth here.  As we reported earlier, Politico's sources said Obama reviewed the platform's controversial language prior to its adoption and didn't object:

Things got so bad that President Barack Obama was forced to personally intervene, ordering language mentioning God and naming Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel be added. Obama had seen the language prior to the convention, a campaign source said, but did not seek to change it until after Republicans jumped on the omissions of God and Jerusalem late Wednesday. And even then, it had to be forced through a convention hall full of delegates who nearly shouted down the change.

Team Obama now rejects those reports and says Obama -- and by extension, his campaign -- wasn't aware of what his party's top policy document actually said.  Let's call it a "you must adopt this platform to find out what is in it" approach.  This, always and forever, is Obama's modus operandi.  Good things are entirely his doing.  Bad things are not.  Ever.  Bill Clinton's speech last night was an elaborate attempt to reinforce this point:  Obama was dealt a terrible hand, America -- external headwinds and obstructionist Republicans made it very hard to turn things around, but he'll get it done if you give him another four years.  That's the pitch.  But Obama knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he applied for this job.  He saw an opening with Americans experiencing heavy-duty Bush fatigue and jumped into the presidential race, even after he said he wouldn't.  When the socially-engineered housing bubble burst and bottom dropped out of the economy that September, he skated to victory.  Along the way, he made huge promises, and voters believed him.  "Change we can believe in," and all that.  If he'd set lower expectations, he might not find himself in quite as much trouble today.  But his 2008 win might have been much narrower, if it happened at all.  People wanted soaring hope and brighter skies, and he eagerly obliged with his rhetoric.  Four years later, he's reaping that legacy.  The Washington Examiner's Phil Klein calls it the overpromising effect:

During the campaign, Obama promised Americans that he wouldn't raise taxes on anybody making less than $250,000 a year. He broke that pledge weeks after taking office, when he signed an increase in cigarette taxes, which fall disproportionately on those with lower incomes. His health care law included a litany of tax increases, including the individual mandate -- which the Obama administration argued successfully before the Supreme Court represented a tax on those who don't purchase health insurance. The mandate penalty does not exempt those making less than $250,000.

Weeks before Obama took office, his economic team issued a report projecting that if his recovery plan were adopted, unemployment would be about 5.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012. In a February 5, 2009, op-ed for the Washington Post, Obama warned that if Congress didn't act on his plan, "Unemployment will approach double digits." The plan passed, the unemployment rate reached double digits anyway in October 2009, and it remains at a stubbornly high 8.3 percent today.

Speaking at the White House Fiscal Responsibility Summit on February 23, 2009, Obama stated, "Today I'm pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office." He reiterated this at a July 20, 2010, press availability, saying, "We are on the path to cutting our deficits in half." The deficit stood at $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2009, according to the Congressional Budget Office. It is projected to be $1.1 trillion this fiscal year (which ends later this month)...Whatever disagreements people have about the deck Obama was dealt when he was sworn into office, it's hard to argue with the fact that he overpromised and underdelivered as president.

Republicans are seeking to play on voter dissatisfaction by using Obama's words and sundry pledges against him.  That's the theme of a new ad from the RNC, entitled "The Breakup:"

The ad underwhelms on production values and seems a little corny to me, but I'd bet the RNC focus-grouped the heck out of its messaging.  It's obviously targeting disenchanted Obama voters and women, with whom at least one poll says the president faltering.  Republicans are asking people to break up with Obama not out of anger, but out of disappointment and a sense that the sizzle has faded while the importance of ordinary life issues has increased.