We knew Obama would go negative in this campaign. We didn’t expect that his first target would be Rutherford B. Hayes.
The fatal encounter of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., left Martin shot to death, Zimmerman in hiding, and the Occupy movement joining Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the streets. If Zimmerman, the neighborhood-watch volunteer who killed Martin, committed a crime beforehand — e.g., assault, which he might have committed by following Martin in a threatening manner — then the state’s “stand your ground” law, which allows armed Floridians to shoot in self-defense even outside their own homes, does not apply, even if Martin attacked in turn. But we do not yet know what happened, apart from the tragic denouement. That’s why we have investigations. Prodding the investigators is one thing. But now we are in the court of spectacle, as Spike Lee retweets Zimmerman’s purported address (which turns out actually to belong to a bewildered elderly couple), the New Black Panther party offers a $10,000 reward for his “capture” (“an eye for an eye,” a spokesman explained), and the New York Times debuts a new racial category, “white Hispanic” (Zimmerman’s mother was Peruvian, but that disrupts the racial narrative). President Obama commented on the case, perhaps fearing that Sharpton would call him a white black if he did not. We say, let justice be done.
The second anniversary of Obamacare’s enactment passed without fanfare from the administration. The Supreme Court marked the occasion with lengthy oral arguments about its constitutionality, concerns about which Democrats had dismissed contemptuously during the legislative debate. Republicans crowed about the act’s unpopularity, with at least two polls finding that the number of people “strongly” opposed to the act matched the total number of strong and weak supporters. This law, ambitious to the point of hubris, was jammed through Congress against the wishes of the public and the commands of the Constitution. May its second anniversary be its last.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a top adviser to Mitt Romney, was asked on CNN whether the primary campaign had placed his candidate too far to the right to win in November. He answered, “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” Democrats seized on the comment as a confirmation that Romney has no fixed principles; his Republican critics warned that he intends to abandon conservatives once he has the nomination. The Romney campaign maintained that Fehrnstrom was merely saying that voters give a candidate a new look once he has won the nomination. There is nothing scandalous in a candidate’s use of different themes, arguments, and emphases to appeal to different audiences, so long as there is some consistency, both in logic and tone, to his entire campaign. Romney has managed to become identified as a moderate Republican while adopting conservative positions on issues from judicial appointments to Medicare reform. It is a good design — and if Romney shakes it up too much, his candidacy may disappear.
President Obama’s off-mic moments, like his derisive comment about Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, often only confirm what we already know or suspect. When he thought he was conversing sub rosa with Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, he suggested that, “on all these issues, but particularly missile defense, . . . after my election I have more flexibility.” We hope that after the election he will have the flexibility to take any position he wishes, with no consequence for the standing of the U.S. in the world.
Rick Santorum was judged to have stepped in it badly when he discussed Internet porn on the campaign trail. These are scary economic times, went the criticism, and what does government have to do with pornography anyway? What Santorum did, in fact, was point out that the Obama administration has been lax in enforcing laws on the books. Under the previous president, there was an Obscenity Prosecution Task Force in the Justice Department. Under the current president, that was disbanded. Santorum is pointing out the harm that pornography is doing to men, women, and children, and to our society at large. He knows that there is more to a healthy and decent society than solvency. Good for him.