Republican candidates seem to live in an alternate reality

December 12, 2011

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.


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I’m not defending the competency of any of the Republican candidates, but there’s a simple reason why they are not attacking President Obama at recent debates – they aren’t running against him right now.

Romney, Gingrich, Perry, and Bachman are running against each other right now. It doesn’t matter how well they’d run against Obama if they can’t beat out their Republican competition. During the general election, look for the attention from the Republican nominee to focus on the poor economy. But, no candidate is going to use up valuable time to attack Obama when they aren’t running against him right now. They have to win the Republican nomination first and, to win that fight, they have to argue about many of the issues you listed above.

Posted by samshank | Report as abusive

Obama isn’t shouting out loud and clear any of his accomplishments. If his people do not put any and all of these things out there, who’s going to know? I read a lot of news from various sources, and its all about the republicans all the time. I hope when the “r” nomination is set we get much more Obama in the daily news.

Posted by GreaterPliny | Report as abusive

by the time they get around to the economy it will have taken itself off the table – check out the latest excellent economic recovery data,and it only will get better, in spite of the right! and yes, my 401k looks a whole lot better now than when bush left office.

Posted by jcfl | Report as abusive

Of the entire Republican party, only two, Ron paul and John Huntsman have any credibility. It’s unbelievable how inept the Republicans are at solving problems, and how wrong they get the facts. They are dumb and desperate and will say whatever comes to mind. It’s comical to watch them debate each other becuase they act like little kids, who try to bully the next one for appeasement points. Their really a joke to watch and couldn’t imagine one of these fools as President.

Posted by schmetterling | Report as abusive

Why oh why the media continues to black out the only real candidate that is running. They continue to complain about the hypocrisy of the Republican candidates but fail to mention the one who has been consistent for over 30 years. Dr. Ron Paul. Get ready for the primaries people, we have to vote for Dr. Paul and force the media to recognize him once he wins the nomination.

Posted by CountryPride | Report as abusive

It is the democrats and the liberals who live in an alternate reality – where there are no enemies $15 trillion in debt is all Bush’s fault. Obama’s accomplishments?; economic recovery? – talk about dumb and dumber. They live in a place where relativism, equivocation and displacement psychosis rein.

Posted by Larmeister | Report as abusive