May 29, 2012

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Marc Thiessen says forget about Bain, the real scandal is Obama’s public equity investments.

… Amazingly, Obama has declared that all the projects received funding “based solely on their merits.” But as Hoover Institution scholar Peter Schweizer reported in his book, “Throw Them All Out,” fully 71 percent of the Obama Energy Department’s grants and loans went to “individuals who were bundlers, members of Obama’s National Finance Committee, or large donors to the Democratic Party.” Collectively, these Obama cronies raised $457,834 for his campaign, and they were in turn approved for grants or loans of nearly $11.35 billion. Obama said this week it’s not the president’s job “to make a lot of money for investors.” Well, he sure seems to have made a lot of (taxpayer) money for investors in his political machine.

All that cronyism and corruption is catching up with the administration. According to Politico, “The Energy Department’s inspector general has launched more than 100 criminal investigations” related to the department’s green-energy programs.

Now the man who made Solyndra a household name says Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital “is what this campaign is going to be about.” Good luck with that, Mr. President. If Obama wants to attack Romney’s alleged private equity failures as chief executive of Bain, he’d better be ready to defend his own massive public equity failures as chief executive of the United States.


Politico reports on Obama’s shaky start.

Noting inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger — the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private.

So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012.

That’s the unmistakable reality for Democrats since Obama officially launched his reelection campaign three weeks ago. Obama, not Mitt Romney, is the one with the muddled message — and the one who often comes across as baldly political. Obama, not Romney, is the one facing blowback from his own party on the central issue of the campaign so far — Romney’s history with Bain Capital. And most remarkably, Obama, not Romney, is the one falling behind in fundraising.

To top it off, Vice President Joe Biden has looked more like a distraction this month than the potent working-class weapon Obama needs him to be. …

… Romney has surprised his many critics with a clear and consistent focus on the economy, hands down the issue of the race. After months of missteps, the guy looks steady and disciplined again, much like he did in the early days of the GOP primaries. By playing to his strength, he has masked his weaknesses — for now.

By contrast, Obama has looked unsteady. Some Democrats have watched with dismay as the focus of Obama’s public comments bounced from student loans, to tax cuts for the rich, to trade, to Bain Capital.

Bain has turned into pain this week. For the first time, some top Democrats are questioning the strategy coming out of the reelection campaign’s Chicago headquarters, with some agreeing with Newark Mayor Cory Booker that Obama is making it too easy to paint him as anti-business. Ed Rendell and Steve Rattner also have publicly voiced concerns, echoed by many others in private conversations. The result has been a minor but very public split in the party on an issue Obama’s camp hoped would tag Romney with a series of crippling labels: elitist, mean-spirited, anti-worker. …

… Some key Democrats say they have been dismayed watching Obama become a divider not a uniter, trying to incite anger among women, students and older voters. It’s striking how, in private conversations with Obama advisers, they openly talk of chucking the feel-good politics of 2008 for a very conventional form of political warfare this time around. A low-grade friction has emerged among advisers on whether the hack approach is damaging the brand. …


John Steele Gordon suggests if Obamaphobes think the president is a dim bulb, they’re making a mistake.

Daily Caller posts on David Brooks’ dislike of Obama Bain Strategy.

Brooks called one ad, which blamed Romney for a steel plant closing, little more than “a whole series of falsehoods.”

“And, finally, I just think the Obama administration, or the campaign has demeaned itself with a series of falsehoods. They released this ad which had a whole series of falsehoods. The one was that this steel company, GST, was a healthy company until Bain took it over, which the ad suggests — completely untrue.”

Brooks added that some of these attacks blamed Romney for Bain’s activities long after the former Massachusetts governor had left the company.

“Second, [the idea] that Romney was part of throwing people out on the street when they finally did have to close this failing company,” he continued. “He was long gone from Bain. And then, finally, that these private equity companies load debt onto businesses. There is a study, though, reported in my newspaper. There is no more debt, no more default in these companies than in other comparable companies. So, it’s this whole series of things which were untrue, which make Obama seem much more like a conventional politician.”


Howard Kurtz reports on a biography of Walter Cronkite.

In the early 1970s, the most trusted man in America did a very untrustworthy thing.

Unbeknownst to the millions who tuned in religiously to the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite cut a deal with Pan Am to fly his family to vacation spots around the world. Together with a handful of friends, they roamed from the South Pacific to Haiti, with Cronkite snorkeling, swimming, and drinking, thanks to a friend at the airline. According to Douglas Brinkley’s sweeping and masterful biography Cronkite, the news division president, Dick Salant, was upset at what he deemed a blatant conflict of interest, but took no action against his star anchor.

This was not the Cronkite I grew up admiring from the time I watched his image flickering on a small black-and-white set, the voice of authority in an age when we still revered, without a trace of cynicism, those who spoon-fed us the news.

I got to know Cronkite after his anchoring days as a charming, hard-of-hearing, slightly stodgy spokesman for old-fashioned news values against the encroachment of tabloid entertainment. There was a certain sadness about him, an old warrior who sorely missed being in the trenches. He was a creature of a simpler time, telling me in 2002 that the network newscasts should be all headlines and no features, seemingly ignoring the rhythms of the Internet age.

In reading this first major biography of Cronkite, I came to realize that the man who once dominated television journalism was more complicated—and occasionally more unethical—than the legend that surrounds him. Had Cronkite engaged in some of the same questionable conduct today—he secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 GOP convention—he would have been bashed by the blogs, pilloried by the pundits, and quite possibly ousted by his employer. That he endured and prospered, essentially unscathed, until his death in 2009 reminded me of how impervious the monopoly media were in those days, largely shielded from the scrutiny they inflicted on everyone else.

“Nobody wanted to go after Walter Cronkite,” Brinkley says. Within CBS “he became a force of nature. He could almost dictate anything he wanted. He was the franchise.”

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