The Campaign Spot

The Dangers of Accepting an Invitation From the President

Three times, in recent months, we’ve seen prominent Republican or conservative figures who disagree with Obama agree to attend events in which the president would be speaking to an audience.

Quite a few Supreme Court justices attended the State of the Union; Obama mischaracterized their recent campaign-finance decision and accused them of believing that “American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.” The Democrats in the chamber leaped out of their seats and roared their approval of the in-person rebuke.

At the health-care summit, John McCain pointed out that the health-care bill’s creation process had not played out entirely before the C-SPAN cameras, as Obama had promised many times as a candidate; Obama dismissed his point as a losing candidate’s sour grapes, declaring, “John, we’re not campaigning anymore. The election is over.”

And now, as noted in the Corner:

Obama inserted himself into one Michigan race Thursday, taking a shot at Rep. Peter Hoekstra, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Obama welcomed Hoekstra during his opening remarks at the car battery plant here. 

“There are some folks who want to go back, who think we should return to the policies that helped to lead to this recession,” Obama said later in his comments honoring an advanced car battery factory being built by the company LG Chem. “Some made the political calculation that it’s better to obstruct than lend a hand. They said no to the tax cuts, they said no to small-business loans, they said no to clean-energy projects. It doesn’t stop them from coming to ribbon-cuttings — but that’s okay.”

There’s a clear lesson here, and it’s that Obama really likes having his arguments in venues where his opponents can’t respond. If he sits down with a Bret Baier type, there’s too much chance for a follow-up question, or counter-evidence being presented, or Obama not winning. Metaphorically, it’s much easier to win a fistfight when your opponent’s arms are pinned down.

Joe Wilson broke decorum by yelling out “YOU LIE!” during the president’s speech. But the evidence suggests that’s the only way a counterargument would ever be presented to the president.


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