Obama Gets Tough, Finally

Exclusive: President Obama looks ready for a political fight, telling his supporters “Let’s go get ‘em. It’s game time.” But is the U.S. political/media system ready for a Democrat turning the tables on the Republicans in terms of toughness – after decades of Republicans playing the bullies – asks Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Over the past four-plus decades, one of the biggest differences between the two major American parties has been how they have approached the practice of politics. Democrats have mostly played nice and Republicans have played rough, which is why the pugnacious style of Barack Obama’s reelection campaign is so striking.

In big ways and small, the President has made clear he is not going to take what deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter bluntly called “their BS.” On Saturday at the official start of his reelection bid, Obama offered a rousing backstage pitch to his supporters before, seamlessly, heading out to give his stump speech.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greeting supporters at his opening campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, on May 5, 2012. (Photo credit: barackobama.com)

“Let’s go get ‘em,” Obama said as he turned to head onstage. “It’s game time.”

Over the past couple of weeks, Obama has shown this readiness to take risks and “go for the throat,” in political parlance, whether that meant “slow jammin’ the news” about college loan rates with late-night host Jimmy Fallon or citing a 2007 comment by Republican candidate Mitt Romney that “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch” Osama bin Laden.

On the anniversary of the U.S. Special Forces operation that killed the al-Qaeda leader, Obama even invited NBC News into the White House Situation Room to film interviews with the President and other senior officials who participated in the decision.

Obama’s aggressive style has left Republicans and the Right’s media sputtering with rage about the unfairness of it all, the lack of presidential decorum, “politicizing” the Situation Room. And, without doubt, there is something strange about watching a Democrat take it to the Republicans when the process has usually been the reverse in recent political history.

One can trace the current era of Republican hardball politics at least back to 1968 when Richard Nixon was so determined not to suffer another narrow defeat that his campaign secretly schemed with South Vietnamese leaders to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks. Nixon’s “October Surprise” operation made the safety of a half million U.S. soldiers then in the war zone secondary to his winning an election.

Even though Johnson learned of Nixon’s “treason” before the election, LBJ and his top advisers agreed to stay silent for “the good of the country,” fearing that disclosure might tear the nation’s political fabric apart. Nixon narrowly defeated Hubert Humphrey and the war continued for four more years at the cost of 20,000 additional American lives and countless Vietnamese. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason.’”]

In Campaign 1972, Nixon was back at it with a clandestine operation to undermine and spy on his Democratic rivals, all the better to win a second term. Whether it was “rat-fucking” the most formidable Democratic contenders or bugging the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate, Nixon and his team were ready to do what was necessary to win – and they did.

Even the setback of the Watergate scandal did not alter the Republican commitment to win at all costs. After Nixon’s resignation in 1974, the Republicans and the Right simply redoubled their efforts to build a political/media infrastructure that would prevent a Republican president from suffering “another Watergate.” This well-funded apparatus also served as a platform for bombarding Democrats and liberals.

To regain the White House for Republicans in 1980, operatives for Ronald Reagan’s campaign apparently conducted their own “October Surprise” operation by undercutting President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to negotiate freedom for 52 American hostages then held in Iran, according to the evidence now available. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “New October Surprise Series.”]

Investing in Media

In the decade that followed Reagan’s victory, the Right invested even more heavily in media outlets, think tanks and attack groups that, collectively, changed the American political landscape. Because of Reagan’s sweeping tax cuts favoring the rich, wealthy executives, like the Koch Brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife, also had much more money to reinvest in the political/media process.

That advantage was further exaggerated by the Left’s parallel failure to invest in its own media. Thus, the Right’s outreach to average Americans won millions of middle-class voters to the Republican banner, even as the GOP enacted policies that devastated the middle class and concentrated the nation’s wealth at the top.

Whenever power was at stake, the Republicans – bolstered by these media capabilities – got tough while the Democrats mostly fell back on the defensive and took it in the chops. The 1988 race was particularly instructive as George H.W. Bush – in what he called “campaign mode” – pummeled Michael Dukakis as soft on crime, unpatriotic and vaguely foreign.

During this era, the Republicans also put vast sums toward negative campaign commercials, a development that convinced Democrats that they needed their own corporate funding and thus should adopt more corporate-friendly positions.

Still, the Right continued to build on its political/media advantages. So, even as American workers struggled in the face of globalization and suffered under GOP hostility toward unions, the Right convinced many middle-class whites, in particular, that their real enemy was “big guv-mint.”

It became harder and harder for liberals to make the case for an economic role for government, as they were marginalized in the national debates.  Many Democrats repackaged themselves as pro-business centrists, triangulating toward some “third way,” an approach that had some superficial appeal even as it further alienated and isolated the party’s liberal “base.”

For Democrats to win in this hostile political/media climate, they needed a number of outside factors to break their way. In 1992, for instance, Bush-41 was staggered by a severe recession, burdened by a record federal debt and undercut by independent candidate Ross Perot, who siphoned off a share of conservative votes.

Still, Bush-41 ran a competitive reelection race largely by smearing Democrat Bill Clinton with innuendos suggesting Clinton may have tried to renounce his citizenship as a young man or may have betrayed his country during a student trip to Moscow. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

The War on Clinton

Despite Bush’s loss, the Republicans and the Right recognized that there was still a promising future in taking advantage of their lead in media outlets and attack groups.

Rush Limbaugh and dozens of other right-wing radio voices demonstrated their new muscle during Clinton’s first term, escalating the personal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton, while Rep. Newt Gingrich and his hyper-partisan Republican allies savaged the ethics of the Democrats in Congress.

By 1994, these assaults had broken down the walls of the Democratic Congress, leading to Republican control and leaving Clinton to insist that he was still “relevant.” Though the President managed to win reelection in 1996, the GOP war against him led to the impeachment battles of 1998-1999.

Though Clinton survived that humiliation, the Republicans and the Right applied similar tactics in Campaign 2000 against Al Gore, who was mocked as “Lyin’ Al.” To prove the point, apocryphal quotes were put into his mouth, such as his supposed claim to have “invented the Internet.” The mainstream media merrily went along.

By this stage in the Republican evolution toward being the party of nasty, many U.S. media figures had shifted to the GOP side, partly for survival against right-wing attacks on “liberal” journalists and partly because there were so many lucrative career opportunities in the Right’s burgeoning news media, which now included Fox News.

So, joining in bashing Gore was a win-win for many reporters, including those at the New York Times and the Washington Post. You could shed the career-threatening tag of “liberal” journalist and you could position yourself for monetary gain as a TV pundit.

Still, Gore benefited from the booming economy in 2000 and managed to eke out a narrow victory in the national popular vote. But Bush held a tiny lead in Florida, whose electoral votes would decide the outcome. Gore pressed for an examination of votes that had been rejected by counting machines. He asked the state courts to enforce Florida’s laws allowing for recounts in close elections.

At this key juncture, the two parties again showed their contrasting approaches to winning. Gore urged his supporters to stay out of the streets and trust the rule of law, while Bush’s campaign recruited political operatives in Washington and flew them to Florida, where they rioted in Miami to prevent the counting of votes.

Ultimately, five Republican partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court handed Bush the victory, while suggesting that their ruling was influenced by the need to keep the political peace. After all, Republicans had shown a readiness to resort to violence and hooliganism if they weren’t pacified by being given the White House. Democrats politely accepted Bush’s “legitimacy.” [For details, see Neck Deep.]

Bush’s Hardball

While in office, President George W. Bush continued to play hardball, especially after the 9/11 attacks. He exploited the nation’s fears during the 2002 elections by portraying the Democrats as soft on terror. Then, on May 1, 2003, after the initial U.S. victory in Iraq, Bush flew onto the aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, in a flight suit and spoke under a giant banner reading “Mission Accomplished.”

In 2004, the Republicans again showed their audacity when they and their right-wing allies smeared Vietnam War hero John Kerry as a coward for allegedly exaggerating his bravery and faking his wounds. The right-wing-funded Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacked Kerry as a phony, while – at the Republican Convention in New York – GOP operatives passed out purple-heart band-aids to make fun of Kerry’s war wounds.

Rather than confront these smears directly, Kerry maintained a polite silence during the Republican convention. (By contrast to the GOP Convention, Kerry had ordered the Democratic Convention to mute any criticism of Bush and assigned the keynote address to a young Illinois state senator, Barack Obama, who talked about national unity and didn’t mention Bush at all.)

As Kerry played nice, the U.S. media gave him no credit, even mocking him for wind-surfing as if that were a less manly activity than Bush’s mountain-biking. Mainstream journalists also gave the Republicans a pass on the purple-heart band-aids; allowed the Swift Boat smears to circulate for weeks before addressing them; and went easy on Bush’s own dubious National Guard record during the Vietnam War.

Late in the campaign when a CBS News report did raise questions about Bush ducking his Guard duty, the Right’s potent media made sure that it was the CBS personnel who paid the steepest price, with several producers and anchor Dan Rather losing their jobs.

Four years later, in Campaign 2008, the Republicans rolled out their usual artillery to blast away at Barack Obama, emphasizing his middle name “Hussein” and accusing him of “palling around with terrorists.” But Obama’s rhetorical skills and the financial collapse in September 2008 blunted the effectiveness of the personal smears.

Reprising the Anti-Clinton Strategy

Obama won the election, but the Republicans didn’t change their long-running strategy. Essentially, they reprised the approach they had used against Bill Clinton in 1993-1994. They combined relentless media assaults on Obama’s legitimacy (spreading rumors that he was born in Kenya, he was a secret socialist, he was a Muslim, etc.) with a solid wall of Republican opposition to his key policies for addressing the national economic crisis.

Like previous Democrats, Obama initially responded by offering olive branches across the aisle, but again and again, they were slapped down. In mid-2009, Obama wasted valuable time trying to woo supposed Republican “moderates” like Sen. Olympia Snowe to support health-care reform. Meanwhile, Republicans filibustered endlessly in the Senate and whipped their Tea Party “base” into angrier and angrier mobs.

In a twist on the historical examples of Nixon holding the Vietnam War hostage in 1968 and Reagan holding 52 American hostages in Iran hostage in 1980, the Republicans held the U.S. economy hostage in 2012. They realized that if they could sabotage Obama’s efforts to pull the country out of the Great Recession, his failure would be their political gain.

And, early indications are that the Republican strategy is working. The GOP won control of the House in 2010 and stomped on the “green shoots” of a recovery in 2011, in part, by creating a fiscal crisis over the debt limit and blocking Obama’s jobs plan.

Republican prospects also look reasonably bright for November 2012, with the House expected to stay in GOP hands and the Senate within reach. The Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney looks to be in a tight race with Obama, even though the ex-Massachusetts governor is a lackluster campaigner and offers little more than more tax cuts for the rich and less regulation for banks and corporations.

Besides the economy’s slow growth, Romney’s prospects are also buoyed by pro-GOP “super PACs,” which will dominate the nation’s airwaves with tens of millions of dollars in anti-Democratic attack ads. On another front, Republican state legislatures are working to suppress the votes of minorities, the poor and the elderly by imposing new requirements for voter identification. Hardball is still the name of the game.

The U.S. news media is also slipping back into predictable patterns. The Right maintains strong advantages with talk radio, cable TV and print publications, while also gaining ground in the Internet. Meanwhile, the mainstream press keeps trying not to offend the Right.

Facing this difficult political/media environment, President Obama has decided to play the Democratic “role” differently. Instead of displays of passivity and appeals to bipartisanship, he is taking the fight to Romney and the Republicans. Obama is framing his campaign as a last-ditch battle to save the Great American Middle Class.

Already, Obama’s audacity has drawn howls of protest from the Republicans and the Right, which have accused him of partisanship and show-boating. They also have revived a 2008 theme that Obama is essentially a celebrity with no substance. Romney even dismissed Obama’s decision to authorize the May 2, 2011, raid that killed Osama bin Laden as an easy call that “even Jimmy Carter” would have made.

Then, when Obama’s campaign hit back, citing earlier quotes from Romney minimizing the importance of getting bin Laden, the Right’s influential news media started a debate about Obama’s “politicizing” the anniversary of bin Laden’s death. Soon, both right-wing and mainstream pundits were slapping down Obama for undermining national “unity.”

Romney also has scored points by saying that Obama has “failed” on the economy because job growth is not more robust. Many Americans seem to be responding favorably to Romney’s calls for more tax cuts and more cuts in government regulations and social programs.

The right-wing themes appear to be resonating especially well with independent voters whose early support for Obama seems to be switching to Romney, explaining why the Republican candidate has inched into a virtual dead heat with Obama in the latest polls.

But Obama is placing his bet on activating the Democratic “base” by finally taking the fight to the Republicans, as was clear in the tone of his early campaign appearances. After three-plus years of unrequited bipartisan wooing of congressional Republicans, Obama is demonstrating a pugnacious style unusual for Democrats in recent decades.

Whether Obama’s more aggressive approach can work in the existing media climate – whether pundits who have grown accustomed to Republican bullying for a generation will rise up in anger against a Democrat for being “too tough” – is another question.

[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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20 comments on “Obama Gets Tough, Finally

  1. Paul on said:

    No one can deny that Obama is a talented orator. It would be nice if he could be believed; however, his track record speaks for itself.

    Remember his original campaign, he looked pretty cool then; “Change you can believe in”. Unfortunately it turned into fraud you can believe in.

    Is he really ready to leave the Neville Chamberlain School of politics (Look up Munich Pact if the analogy is confusing)?

    If so he should study up on FDR’s speeches, and some of his off the record comments, and especially his economic policies.

    Oh yes he just signed us up for Afganistan through 2024.

    • berriesandblood on said:

      I beg to differ……how woeful you are when things look bright…
      http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/03/barack-obamas-had-pretty-damn-good-presidency

      • Paul on said:

        I read that article, mostly fluff, which is very surprising for MJ a usually excellent magazine. He has done a lot of little things which if you compile them, make him look good. But look at the major stuff, the most damaging decisions, and it’s not so great. Just look at the great work he did for Wall Street, how do you feel about indefinite detention at the President’s behest. Nixon with his “enemies list” would have loved that one. Unfortunately the election boils down to a sham vs. a total nightmare.

        • Paul on said:

          However the rest of the article, cataloging Repulsive Party sleaze is excellent; and I must compliment Consortium for always writing in a professional style that can reach those who need to be reached, rather than the “preaching to the choir” style of some other writers and sites.

    • don on said:

      Apparently you haven’t kept up with the real accomplishments of Obama. First of all Roosevelt was just as frustrated as Obama until he could get a few new justices on the court. Obama had a congress that would not cooperate even though he reached out for their input and even without it included some of the GOP stupid ideas just to get something passed.
      What were your comments about his predecessor that passed on a country ready to go over the cliff and lied and misled us into a catastrophe?
      “Politices is the art of the possible” and with all of his faults Obama is a Michelangelo.

      • F. G. Sanford on said:

        Yes, it would take the skill and artistic nuance of a Michelangelo to paint an outhouse like H.R. 347 or NDAA or non-judicial killing to look like the Sistine Chapel of Democracy. His crowning achievement in the Michelangelo department was “getting out” of Afghanistan for the liberals and “staying twelve more years” for the conservatives. For those of you that think Republican resistance proves he’s not a corporate pawn, please keep in mind that lying to the public is a bipartisan effort. It maintains what George Carlin pointed to as, “The illusion of choice”. He can study Roosevelt’s speeches all he wants, but Roosevelt had what it took to pick up the phone, call the Fed and tell THEM exactly how much capital they were going to provide to finance the ‘New Deal’. See Dr. Richard Wolf’s interview with Thom Hartman, “The Big Picture”, on RT. Sorry, but being the President is not about politics. It’s about POWER. Either you know how to use it or you don’t. Whether it’s used for good or evil is another discussion, but so far, Obama hasn’t resisted. He’s gone along. If he had resisted, with a then Democratic Congress, we could have had “Medicare for All” (single-payer, in the parlance of the terminally misleading media). The only thing he has in common with Michaelangelo is fealty to his patrons.

  2. John Puma on said:

    Obama IS the consummate campaigner. (He’s also good at roasting his political opponents at the WH correspondents dinner having destroyed the Donald’s presidential hopes in a terse, hilarious and pointed monologue.)

    But he is either incapable of delivering on his words (spinelessly incompetent) or says them only because his political calculation suggests they will get him (re)elected (reprehensible fraud.)

    The eight years of the Cheney/Bush nightmare left the country with a serious need for someone to REVERSE their policies NOT a glib Bush willing to increase deportations, crackdown on whistle blowers, step up the the use of drones, ignore a veto threat to acquire the power to detain any US citizen without due process but only on the word of the new king and request/receive Justice Dept approval for extra judicial assassination of US citizens abroad. (This is not the comprehensive list. Every time I go to compile one, the irresistible urge to spit blood jeopardizes the electronics of my computer.)

    Obama has made hope just another four-letter word.

  3. photon's feather on said:

    So Obama is finally getting tough and taking the fight to the Republicans – and it only took him three years to decide that every liberal, progressive, and real centrist has been shouting at him since before his inauguration?

    Is he also going to review and revamp his right-wing policy, such as his ‘free trade’ (i.e., offshoring jobs) agreements?

    Is it too late? Will his actions reflect his supposed change of heart?

  4. F. G. Sanford on said:

    Getting tough? Give me a break. Not only have the Dems not gotten tough, they’ve joined the other side. Lying to Congress is an impeachable offense. War crimes are impeachable offenses. Endangering national security by “outing” a CIA operative is an impeachable offense. Torture is a war crime. War of aggression is the “supreme international crime”. Subverting the election process is an impeachable offense. Draft-dodging merits jail time. There were plenty of things that could have been ‘cherry-picked’ to make an example of right-wing skulduggery. At every opportunity, the left balked…or were they just complicit?

    Forget all that. Take a look at the intellectual cowardice of all the left-wing darlings when it comes to the biggest of all the “big lies”. In 1967, a rocket accidentally fired on the flight deck of USS Forrestal. It ripped into the loaded fuel tank of a plane waiting to take off, spewing JP-5 (jet fuel) all over the deck. An immediate conflagration occurred. The steel didn’t melt. As the chain reaction continued, more fuel was released and burned. The steel didn’t melt. Nine bombs, including two 1,000 lb AN-M65′s, detonated in the conflagration, and miraculously, the steel didn’t melt. The ship didn’t sink. Of the approximately 5,000 Sailors aboard, 134 died and 161 were injured.

    Much ado has been made of the USS New York, famous for the incorporation of World Trade Center steel in it’s structure. You know, the steel that DID melt. Every liberal dandy from Dennis Kucinich to Noam Chomsky has dismissed any critical review of the official story as baseless ravings of the lunatic fringe. If nothing else, we owe it to the safety of our citizens to understand how buildings designed to withstand the impact of airliners were imploded. And those airliners were 707′s: larger, heavier and with a greater fuel payload. We owe our citizens an explanation of why NORAD failed, why intelligence failed, why air traffic control failed, and why, if the perpetrators were Saudis, we went to war in Afghanistan.

    The right-wing talk-radio noise machine has no shortage of rabid, seething hate-mongering callers who are themselves lower middle or lower class white people enraged by liberal policies, food stamps, education benefits, WIC, Planned Parenthood, the UN, health care reform, gun laws and unemployment benefits for people, “too lazy to work”. They are all for more tax cuts, because they think they are the ones who benefit.

    The truth is, the 99% doesn’t realize who they are. They think the 99% are the people on food stamps. Until the left finds the courage to prosecute just one war crime, just one act of treason, just one finance fraud, one example of gross negligence, or one act of perjury, they can’t win. They’re part of the game. Personally, I’d rather write in a vote than contribute to what will essentially be Bush’s fourth term, no matter who wins.

  5. Thomas Higgins on said:

    Put all this poseing by oBomba is just showing how great of a republican he has been for the last four years and how much more he will be a republican during the next four.

  6. rosemerry on said:

    I must agree with the other comments. Obama has been a complete Repug, giving them all they want and caring not at all for the huge majority of US citizens. Now he wants to stay in power, and is willing to be “tough” just for that.

    • photon's feather on said:

      Not ‘a complete Republcan.’ Take your RNC talking points elsewhere. Obama is a disappointment to his ignorant supporters who thought he stood for great change. The rest of us knew what he was: a neoliberal – which still beats a neoCON any day.

      While Obama’s health care reform fell far short of progessives’ hopes, it was his baby, and the Republicans hate it and are trying to dismantle it. How does that make him ‘a complete Republican’?

      If he’s ‘a complete Republican,’ why are the Republicans blocking most of his nominations to the courts? The Republicans don’t seem to see him as ‘a complete Republican.’

      Anyone who thinks he is the same as the Republicans need only think of SCOTUS injustices put in by Republicans. No difference? A complete Republican? Hardly.

      The readers here are too smart to fall for RNC talking points. You’ll have to do much better.

  7. Bill on said:

    Any day of Obama is better than every day of any republican president since 1969.
    Dems forever, repugs never ever again.

    • Thomas Higgins on said:

      Better than Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush the worser, that’s not saying much.
      Yes I realize that Clinton is on that list of republicans. Clinton signed NAFTA, created Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and dismantled the FCC this allowing the rise of Murrdock, clear channel, ect, creating one voice news. Just because you believe, even if it’s true, that oBomba is the best republican does make him what’s best for America.
      Obomb’s big win?? Repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Yes that’s right his big change change what the last “democrat” did.

      • photon's feather on said:

        On the other hand, would you want the next SCOTUS justices to be chosen by Romney? Another Thomas, Scalia, Roberts, or Alito to replace each of the two soon-retiring decent justices?

        • F. G. Sanford on said:

          You’re right. If Obama gets elected, he might nominate some panty-waste like Eric Holder. That’s a real good reason to vote for him. Just what rational, reasonable, uncorrupted and enlightened jurist do you think he’ll manage to get past the Republican dominated nomination hearings? There’s talk of Judge Napolitano running as Ron Paul’s Veep. Paul’s austerity measures would be worse than Angela Merkel’s, but if Paul would nominate Napolitano to the Supreme Court, I’d vote for him in a heart beat.

          • photon's feather on said:

            Were his two appointments anything like Roberts or Alito, or Scalia or Thomas?

            Do learn to think.

  8. Thomas Higgins on said:

    PS Sad to see this kind of blather from this normally respectable news sight.

  9. Bill from Saginaw on said:

    For me, Robert Parry’s journalism is always enjoyable to read, and I deeply admire his dogged insistence on keeping alive hidden historical truths on such sheenanigans as the Nixon campaign sabotaging LBJ’s Vietnam withdrawal effort, the Reagan campaign’s October Surprize trumping of incumbent Jimmy Carter’s hostage release efforts, the connection between that skullduggery and the Iran-Contra scandal that followed, and the subsequent sleazy smear campaigns that successfully took down the presidential hopes of candidates like Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry. Re-stating and connecting those historical dots remains a worthwhile reminder of what US civics in action has really been about during the last half century of the two major party duopoly’s reign.

    That said, I feel Parry’s final conclusion is disappointingly lightweight:

    “Obama is placing his bet [in 2012] on activating the Democratic ‘base’ by finally taking the fight to the Republicans, as was clear in the tone of his early campaign appearances. After three years of unrequited bipartisan wooing of congressional Republicans, Obama is demonstrating a pugnacious style unusual for Democrats in recent decades. Whether Obama’s increasingly aggressive approach can work in the existing media climate – whether pundits who have grown up accustomed to Republican bullying for a generation will rise up in anger against a Democratic for being ‘too tough’ – is another question.”

    Yes, that is indeed another question. And a largely irrelevant one.

    Who gives a shit if Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, ABC, CBS, Wolf Blitzer, Ed Schultz, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and even Bill Moyers himself stood up to chant in unison like a great Greek chorus “Barack is a Meanie! He’s too tough and too pugnacious and too big a bully to be re-elected president!” How many undecided, or independent, or Democratic-leaning voters would turn away from supporting Obama because such a bizarre, broad-based media pout fest actually transpired? Probably not a single soul.

    If Parry is right, and Obama “is placing his bet on activating the Democratic base”, it is matters of past and future policy substance – not style, or approach, or tough sounding theatrics about taking the fight to the opposition – that might bring back those voters from the Democrats’ 2008 base who are now inactive, or have become outright alienated. And they did not become inactive or alienated because they thought Barack Obama behaved like a wimp. They became profoundly disenchanted because they sense he compromised away many substantive issues that they elected him to care about.

    The bottom line is, Robert Parry is still doing horse race depth coverage of politics as a sporting event here. Granted, it’s much more in depth and insightful coverage of many Kentucky Derbys past, but it still is giving us a play-by-play focus on tactics and strategy rather than actual analysis of what is taking place.

    Bill from Saginaw