POLITICIZING THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE by Tara Wall
Move over Karl Rove, you’ve got nothing on Rahm Emanuel and the new Obama White House. Political Campaign Strategy 101 has been redefined and is setting up shop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.[# More #]
There’s no doubt that President Barack Obama, a diehard liberal Democrat with socialist tendencies, is willing to befriend a few Republicans in order to get the short-term sign off he needs by way of a stimulus — he’s going to need to some fall guys (and gals) when his economic chickens come home to roost — and long-term capital for the next political campaign. The political reality is that Obama wants to get reelected, no doubt by bigger margins the next time. Yet, as left leaning as he is, the country is not. While he may have “won” with voters, big government bailout policies, have not. Taxpayers know better and the polls reflect it. But it seems, even Obama knows the game better than we give him credit for. And if he plays his cards right, he could not only win reelection by politicizing the people’s house, but single-handedly installing one of the biggest political apparatuses we’ve ever seen in the process.
How he’s reframed the stimulus debate is one case in point. CNN.com pointed out the obvious today: “Taking no chances, President Barack Obama is exerting last-minute pressure on Congress to approve his stimulus plan by highlighting stories of people affected by the economic downturn. The Democratic National Committee and Obama’s Organizing for America will use Obama’s vast e-mail list [emphasis mine] Friday to contact the president’s political supporters and point them to a new Web page where several of these stories can be viewed.” It doesn’t take a nuclear scientist to recognize that “Obama’s Organizing for America,” will turn into his “Organization for Reelection.” It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t have bipartisan support for a pork-laden plan the public can’t stomach. At the end of the day, it only matters that he appeared to consider Republican input and made the public feel good about his attempts to reach out.
We know that Obama has masterfully turned his YouTube, Facebook-loving friends into an instant email database ready to be mobilized. He’s capitalized on his charismatic popularity to turn the country’s economic turmoil into town hall photo ops. He’s got his Cabinet and staff chock-full of political operatives at the ready with an eye toward 2012. And he’s not trying to mask it.
The White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives (WHOFBI) now renamed and transferred to the Executive Office of the President, is being run by a 26-year-old campaigner who just met Obama a little over three years ago, Josh DuBois. The previous two directors under President George W. Bush were an accomplished professor and a lawyer who had experience (other than simply running a political campaign) working with faith-based charities. The “clinging to religion” folks DuBois will interact with are who Obama will need to combat the Republicans’ conservative base. Ginning them up with grant-filled goodies should keep them satisfied and ready for action come reelection. Ironic, this is the very office liberals and the media lambasted as? being “used almost exclusively to win political points with both evangelical Christians and traditionally Democratic minorities,” said MSNBC in 2006.
The appointment of Sen. Judd Gregg as Secretary of Commerce, while odd, seemed harmless enough. An olive branch from the liberal Democrat leader to a conservative out of-the-box Republican was a noble attempt to “reach across party lines.” Except the president’s extended hand got cutoff when he was reminded that Commerce oversees the all important upcoming 2010 Census count. A Census that will redraw the congressional map. Oops. Can’t put a token Republican in charge of that, so Obama (once again) redirected another department (this time the independent Census agency), into the White House and under ubber-partisan chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel’s purview. No wonder Gregg quit. There’s a blatant case for politicalization of a department if I’ve ever seen one. Many leery conservatives are, rightly, calling foul. PajamasTV editor Rick Moran blogs that: “The issue of the Census director reporting directly to the White House means that Gregg, as commerce secretary, would lose control of one of the major programs in the department.” By, in effect, politicizing the Census, the Obama administration is throwing down the gauntlet and risking an all out war with congressional Republicans over the fruits of the national head count; redistricting the 535 congressional districts to reflect changes in population and the allochttp://www.tarawall.comation of billions in federal spending,” Moran said.
There are new government rules for lobbyists that don’t apply to many of Obama’s new appointees. There’s the no-intelligence-experience appointment and confirmation of Leon Panetta to the CIA. And then the Washington Times exclusively reported this week that an opposition research “dirt-digger” (Shauna Daly) has been hired as Obama’s White House counsel research director, though she has no legal experience or law degree only political mastery. It all seems to suit the Obama administration, Congress and mainstream press corps just fine.
President Bush should’ve been so lucky, having been roundly criticized for politicizing everything from foreign policy and faith, to the judicial system and even science! Tirades from the left included accusation of Bush’s “agencies of mass politicization,” to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle “Blast[ing] Bush For Politicizing National Security,” as Fox News put it. And it was just last May that a campaigning Obama accused President Bush of the “politicalization of foreign policy,” when Mr. Bush had the audacity to warn against appeasing terrorists. How dare he.
For all the talk about a new era in Washington politics, once again the public is being snowed by smoke and mirrors. It’s a new era, alright. A new era for political operatives running rough-shod over the White House. While Republicans ready for a battle royal, “we the people” should be outraged.
Tara Wall, a former newscaster and GOP spokesperson, is a conservative columnist, CNN political contributor and deputy editor for The Washington Times. Tara writes about.. party politics, liberal media bias, faith in the public square, racial double-standards and national policy under the newly anointed.. err appointed administration.? You can also read her blogs at: www.tarawall.com http://www.tarawall.com