Republican candidates seem to live in an alternate reality
There is plenty that GOP candidates could use as fodder to attack Barack Obama. An unemployment rate of 9 percent for much of his presidency seems like awfully low-hanging fruit. So why in the world are they bothering to question the president on things that have little basis in reality?
Take Mitt Romney, for example. Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Forum last week, Romney said, “This president appears more generous to our enemies than he is to our friends. Such is the natural tendency of someone who is unsure of America’s strength — or of America’s rightful place in the world.”
But, in fact, Obama’s foreign policy has taken a such a hard line that he has been likened to his predecessor, George W. Bush, much to the dismay of many progressives in his own party. He has not closed Guantanamo, after promising he would; he has continued to perform renditions and moving suspects into airspace or locations so the government can perform interrogations he couldn’t attempt elsewhere; he’s used drones in lieu of putting American troops in danger.
So, who exactly are these enemies that Mitt Romney is referring to? Who has President Obama been more generous to than our friends? Obama has exerted American strength to the degree that has made many less-hawkish among us wince.
Recently asked if he’s an appeaser, he responded: “Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22-out-of-30 top al Qaeda leaders who’ve been taken off the field whether I engage in appeasement. Or whoever is left out there, ask them about that.”
The former Republican administration would have relished the opportunity to roll off a line just like that.
In the clearest example of alternate reality, Newt Gingrich refuses to acknowledge that Palestinians even exist, calling them “an invented people.” Perhaps someone should ask Newt if Americans existed as “invented people” prior to 1776. Even Romney, his fellow Republican, suggested that Gingrich should take that comment back. Gingrich declined, shaking his head at the suggestion during the latest GOP debate on Saturday evening.
Republican candidates asserting that Obama has been soft on immigration are willfully ignorant as well. In Obama’s first two years in office, he’s responsible for a record number of roughly 400,000 deportations. The controversy over massive deportations even led to a Frontline special based on a year-long investigation into extended detention and allegations of sexual abuse of immigrants put into temporary prison camps. Yet, Republican candidates don’t think he’s being tough enough on immigrants and want to deport even more. Gingrich supports some measures to try and allow some immigrants to remain, but he’s seen as one of the few moderates in the race when it comes to this issue. The fact that Gingrich is almost to the left of Obama when it comes to immigration shows how far off Republicans are when attacking the president for being soft on immigration. If anything he’s been a bit too aggressive for many Democrats.
Amidst all this, Obama’s weakest point remains. Whether he’s entirely responsible for it or not, he has been unable to fix a terrible economy. He’s even conceded that it may be impossible to fully recover within the next four years. A recent CBS poll shows only 33% of Americans approve of the way the President has handled the economy.
This is what the GOP should be attacking. If the GOP is looking for reasons to convince voters to side with their party next November, they’d be wise to steer clear from immigration and foreign policy and stick to the economy. Otherwise their presidential deficit will likely drag on for four more years.