By Cheri Jacobus - 07/16/09 05:34 PM EDT
It may have worked in last fall’s campaign, but can this recycled garbage rescue Obama once again?
Obama’s approval ratings plunged among independents in the past month, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. Even more alarming (to him) is his drop with Democrats. In the past month alone, Obama dropped eight points with independents, down to 50 percent, and Democrats’ approval of him dropped 10 points.
The Obama economic response has failed in the eyes of many Americans who were willing and even eager to give the new president the benefit of the doubt, along with their support. But the rising unemployment and disturbing rumblings of yet another “stimulus” bill after the first one failed miserably has Americans nervous. Less than half of those polled gave Obama a thumbs-up on his handling of the economy.
What is Obama’s answer to his falling approval numbers among independents and Democrats? Since he has proven himself to be incompetent in curing what ails them, Obama is harking back to his campaign days and appealing to the fears and hatreds that worked so well for him then — trot out the independents’ and Democrats’ least favorite Republican, Dick Cheney, and try to gain points for Team Obama by stirring up old animosities.
The latest shell game is to charge that the CIA, just after the Sept. 11 attacks, developed a highly sensitive and necessarily secret plan to hunt down al Qaeda terrorists before they could hunt down and kill Americans, but was ordered by Cheney not to inform Congress. The CIA program was never implemented. Now a handful of shameless Democrats claim it was never “approved” by the appropriate committee. CIA Director Leon Panetta informed Congress about the plan and dismantled it. The problem for Democrats is that Panetta’s predecessor, Mike Hayden, confirmed Cheney never told him not to inform Congress; rather, the inactive program fell substantially short of the threshold for congressional notification. The CIA did, however, brief Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on enhanced interrogation programs, which she later denied so she could more easily demonize the former president and vice president. Her refusal to address the issue further speaks volumes.
We are now faced with two very serious instances in a matter of mere weeks where congressional Democrats, and now the president, have engaged in dangerous accusations affecting national security as part of their partisan political shenanigans: once to cover a lie by Pelosi, and now not only to boost her credibility on that lie, but to shift Obama’s poll numbers with independents and Democrats to more favorable levels.
Congressional Democrats and Obama seem to be disturbingly comfortable with placing partisanship before national security and are not above manufacturing a scandal as a means to achieve their objective. Democrats hope to kill two birds with one stone — providing a boost to Pelosi after she was essentially caught in a Very Big Lie regarding the CIA, and, by demonizing Cheney, providing impetus to independents and Democrats who have lost confidence in Obama to simply hate Cheney enough to forgive Obama for his shortcomings.
Such mindless, knee-jerk hatred of all things Bush-Cheney drove the Obama campaign to a large degree. Obama needed independents to carry him over the finish line, but Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had a longstanding relationship with them from the 2000 GOP presidential primary. Obama couldn’t win over independents from McCain on merit, so he linked McCain to Bush-Cheney instead.
It may be an effective political strategy. But as a national security strategy, it is downright dangerous.
Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has managed congressional campaigns, worked on Capitol Hill and is an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. She appears on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News as a GOP strategist.