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Obama: Then and Now

The shrinking president — name calling, attacks, and profanity … nothing else

by George Landrith

In 2008, then U.S. Senator Barack Obama, ran for the presidency as a transformational leader. He spoke eloquently and powerfully of changing the tone in Washington, of uniting America, and of establishing a new tone of civility.

That was then. This is now. The one-time champion of civility has become the most outrageously divisive president in modern history.

In 2012, after the first debate, it became clear that Obama’s campaign strategy was to call his opponent a “liar” without providing any proof of that serious charge. Obama expects Americans to merely accept his name-calling as fact. 

Now, with less than two weeks before election day, Obama is quoted in The Rolling Stone magazine as calling his opponent “a bullshitter.” Quite bluntly, it is curious that a man who ran for office promising that his mere election would cause both hostilities in the Middle East and sea levels to subside would have the nerve to accuse anyone of being a “bullshitter.”

Earlier this year team Obama ran a completely dishonest political advertisement blaming Gov. Mitt Romney for the cancer related death of a man’s wife. Team Obama’s theory was that Romney could not close down a failing business without accepting personal responsibility for every tragedy that occurred even years later to anyone who ever worked there.

That is an interesting standard, to say the least. And if it were applied to Obama, himself, there would be hundreds or even thousands of wives, children and fathers whose death, disease and suffering could be blamed on Obama. Interestingly, team Romney has not run such an ad — demonstrating that they have some sense of decency and intellectual honesty.

Obama’s highest campaign officials repeatedly alleged that Romney committed a felony as it tried to weave a story of intrigue about Romney’s taxes. When the media was surprised by this over-the-top rhetoric and asked the campaign if it wanted to walk back the felony charge, Obama’s campaign refused and instead doubled down on their baseless charge. Obama never apologized. They just changed the subject when it became clear they were lying and moved onto their next bogus line of attack.

Team Obama used the floor of the U.S. Senate as a backdrop as they honed their attacks on Romney claiming that an unnamed source had disclosed that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in ten years. For the record, the story was clearly a lie when it was first uttered. But that didn’t stop the shameless Senator Harry Reid from launching the absurdly dishonest attack.

Through his four years as president, those who disagree with Obama are called “enemies,” not opponents. He has called for his “enemies” to be “punished.” He describes critics as “greedy,” “unpatriotic,” and “dishonest.” He claims those who oppose his healthcare plan don’t care about the sick. Those who oppose his environmental agenda, want children to breathe dirty air and drink dirty water. He casts his “enemies” as heartless soulless creatures who tell the less fortunate, “you’re on your own,” “tough luck,” and “that’s not our problem.”

An Obama campaign plan revealed last spring that their strategy was to “kill Romney” politically. So Obama’s campaign has spent hundreds of millions of dollars painting Romney as some dark, sinister and dangerous politician.  As Romney said at least twice in the third debate, “Attacking me is not an agenda.” Interestingly, just this week, Obama finally produced an economic plan — or at least printed up on paper its website talking points and labeled it a plan.

Imagine that — less than two weeks to election day, and the incumbent just got around to printing something it can loosely call an agenda. It is stunning how devoid of substance Obama’s campaign has been.

All of this name calling and vitriol from the man who claimed he would change the tone in Washington and who lectured America on the need for civility. The irony is inescapable.

These sort of personal attacks are obviously beneath the dignity of the presidency. But sadly they are not beneath the dignity of Barack Obama. As the campaign progresses, it is becoming clear that virtually nothing is beneath the dignity of Barack Obama.

This intellectually weak name-calling approach to politics is not a new thing for Obama or his campaign. This is how Obama has run his previous campaigns — sliming his opponents with personal attacks. Only in 2008, did he transform himself into a transformational leader calling for civility and a new way of conducting business in Washington. The 2008 campaign is the aberration.

The sliming, name-calling, low brow, snarky attacks that we’ve witnessed of late are the real Barack Obama. And as the American public has grasped this fact, his personal popularity has dropped dramatically. Little wonder.

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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.