Remember when President Obama lectured the nation on civility in its political discourse?
In January 2011, following the shooting of then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, President Obama told an audience at the University of Arizona in Tucson, “It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”
Unfortunately, his words ring hollow. President Obama’s counsel was not directed at himself or those who work at his behest. The rules of civility as decreed by President Obama (and enforced by the mainstream media) apply only to conservatives and to anyone else who has the temerity to disagree with the Obama Administration. It is a classic case of “do as I say, not as I do.” When it comes to civility, President Obama has granted himself, his administration and his re-election campaign a waiver.
Amongst those covered by Obama’s civility waiver is Stephanie Cutter, his Deputy Campaign Manager. During a conference call with reporters late last week, Cutter spoke about the Obama’s campaign dispute over when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital. Cutter said:
Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony. Or he was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the American people to avoid responsibility for some of the consequences of his investments [such as layoffs and outsourcing].
Does Ms. Cutter have evidence that Romney committed a felony offense? If she does then she should submit this evidence to the SEC and to the Department of Justice. If she doesn’t then she should do all of us a favor and shut up.
Oh! How uncivilized of me to tell Cutter to shut up. But anyone who publicly accuses someone of committing a crime without the evidence to back up that claim deserves to be severely admonished. Since President Obama won’t admonish Cutter, then I will.
Indeed, not only has President Obama not taken Cutter to task but in an interview with Charlie Rose on the CBS This Morning, he proclaimed that his campaign’s attacks on Romney are “entirely appropriate.”
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, David Axelrod told Candy Crowley that Cutter didn’t call Romney a felon but rather that he may have committed a felony. And what word is commonly used to classify someone who has committed a felony?
For her part, Cutter did not repeat her claim when she appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation. However, she did not apologize for asserting that Romney had committed a felony and called upon Romney to “stop whining.”
So let’s review. President Obama and his campaign staff don’t know for certain if Mitt Romney has committed a felony. Yet this uncertainty has not prevented them from asserting that Romney might have committed a felony. Despite not having a factual basis for these assertions, why would they take this uncivilized tone towards Romney? Well, let consider something else Axelrod said during his interview with Crowley:
Now it may be that he’s misleading people now when he says I had nothing to do with it. So I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say those documents are accurate and what he’s telling the American people now is not. I’ll give him that. But neither is a recommendation to be President of the United States.
So when it comes to Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign is talking to the American people in a way that wounds, not heals. The Obama campaign is clearly trying to wound Mitt Romney by suggesting he has committed a crime. By making that suggestion they make the further suggestion that Romney is not fit to be President of the United States.
Politics is, of course, a rough and tumble affair and always will be. As long as there have been elections there have been candidates have been willing to say about anything to prevent their opponent from being elected to office. This is where President Obama finds himself. After 3½ years in office, he has accomplished little and what little he has accomplished is not to the liking of the electorate. Mitt Romney has a solid, stellar reputation and that is a threat to Obama’s hold on power. So the only way President Obama can secure re-election is by destroying Mitt Romney’s solid and stellar reputation.
But the Obama campaign isn’t going to be content with merely wounding Romney’s solid and stellar reputation. As one Democratic strategist aligned with the Obama Administration put it last August, “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.” Well, nearly a year has passed. Things haven’t changed for the better and Obama still can’t run on his accomplishments. Operation Kill Romney has been launched and is operating at full speed with no signs of slowing down.
Stephanie Cutter is right about one thing. Mitt Romney can’t whine. All he can do is fight back more assertively and more forcefully. If Obama hits Romney then Romney has to hit back ten times harder. Romney will also have to go on the offensive. When they do hit back or launch an attack of their own, look for the Obama campaign to bemoan Mitt Romney’s lack of civility. After all, Romney isn’t eligible for Obama’s civility waivers.