Obama's Fact-Checkers

The Obama campaign announced Monday morning that it would launch a new initiative termed Truth Team designed to combat Republican misrepresentation of the president's record. It's the successor to the 2008 campaign's Fight the Smears website, which corrected the common myths—such as his birth certificate or secret Muslim faith—through e-mail chains that year. "The GOP candidates are spending a huge amount of time attacking President Obama—no surprise," Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "But instead of basing their attacks on our differences of opinion, they've chosen to run on claims about his record that just aren't true."

The new website is subdivided into three sections: AttackWatch, KeepingGOPHonest, and KeepingHisWord. The first blog item criticizes Romney's economic plan as one that "helps millionaires and hurts the middle class" (filed under KeepingGOPHonest), followed by a string of favorable Obama accomplishments, such as sanctions on Iran or growth in the private-sector job market. According to the announcement, the campaign has teamed with union groups, including the Service Employees International Union and United Steelworkers Union, and will be holding events in various swing states such as Colorado, Florida, and Ohio.

Establishing a network of truth sleuths might seem a little grandiose considering the president's ability to manage the facts through the power of the bully pulpit. But after spending last week at CPAC, I can see what the Obama team is concerned about. Senator Marco Rubio's comment that Obama "looks like he's a really good father, looks like he's a really good husband, but he is a terrible president," was the rare statement that suggested Obama is not the devil incarnate. Throughout the various CPAC panels, there was a sense that Obama wasn't just a president that happened to have ideological differences with Republicans but one who is, in fact, a nefarious socialist.

At any such conference, conservative or liberal, you will hear paranoid and outlandish comments from random attendees, but I was shocked by the prevalence of that kind of rhetoric from officially designated speakers.  “What he is really doing is leading an effort to define the Constitution and undermine its legitimacy as the primary document which forms the basic principles and the structures that should be followed by the executive branch as well as the other two branches,” said former Attorney General Ed Meese. Others suggested that the true intent of the Affordable Care Act wasn't to increase health-care access and was instead a malicious plan to make Americans more reliant on government services to turn them into future Democratic voters.

Liberals hated George W. Bush during his eight years as president, but few outside the far left wing believed that Bush had secret malevolent intentions. He may have led the country on the wrong path, but he did so under the belief that his actions were the best course for the country. Republicans are well within their rights to criticize Obama for representing an ideology opposite from their own and implementing policies they dislike, but the hyper-inflated rhetoric has gone too far in painting the president as a socialist radical. Let's hope that the Obama campaign's truth team can help restore a bit of sanity.

Comments

As a liberal (at least), I call BS on the following sentence:

Liberals hated George W. Bush during his eight years as president, but few outside the far left wing believed that Bush had secret malevolent intentions.

You didn't have to go far to hear that Bush launched the Iraq war for the following reason (pick one or more): 1) Upset that his father hadn't toppled Saddam and saw Saddam as somehow the thumb in his father's eye for simply existing; 2) Blood for oil; 3) We were there at the behest of Cheney and his Haliburton cronies to pad their bottom lines.

I admit. I, myself, probably half believe at least one and two, while three seems to me to be a happy accident rather than the reason for the war itself. But I certainly heard all three.

And it doesn't stop there. Why Gitmo? Ask any liberal, and s/he will tell you that Gitmo is there purely to keep our unconscionable attack on the norms of civil liberties, or even the Geneva Convention away from prying journalistic and civilian eyes on the U.S. mainland. You think that's not "secret malevolent intention"? (FWIW, I'm one of those who has protested Gitmo outside of the Obama White House as well. But with Bush, I was livid at his attack on civil liberties. With Obama, I'm merely terribly disappointed on this issue. The tone, and my willingness to ascribe malevolent intention, is different.)

I think there's a difference, but I don't think Mr. Caldwell has correctly identified a difference of kind. Merely one of degree. We said these things in whispers, among ourselves, and were bitter that we could not get the news to cover it. The right screams it on the mainstream news and gets the coverage we never did. It's hard to blame them for that.

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