Written by Roger Aronoff
The Obama campaign is complaining about the latest New York Times/CBS poll, because of its “methodology.” Their real complaint, however, is with the results. Whereas in April, the poll showed that in a general election match-up between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, Obama was ahead among women voters by 49% - 43%, now, in the latest poll, Romney is ahead among women by 46% - 44%, which is within the three-point margin of error, but represents an eight-point swing in one month. After the Sandra Fluke/contraception issue, and the whole “GOP war on women” theme pushed by Obama and his media allies, these numbers seemed surprising. But, in fact, they indicate that a majority of women aren’t buying it.
The part of the poll that upset the Obama campaign even more was the percentage of those polled who believe that Obama made his decision to announce his support for gay marriage for political reasons. That number was 67% versus only 24% who said they believe he did it “mostly because he thinks it is right.” That is hugely significant, and it is a gap, a credibility gap, that reverberates throughout the Obama administration.
The White House’s reliable mouthpiece, Chuck Todd, of MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” said that the poll was “a callback survey, not a traditional poll.” This point was also made by Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, in an interview with Todd. She questioned the methodology. Yet this same poll matched its highest approval rating for Obama in more than two years, 50%, except for a bump he got after the death of Osama bin Laden in May of last year.
The irony is that this poll, like so many others, is skewed to favor Obama. Of those interviewed, 27% generally considered themselves Republican, 35% considered themselves Democrats, and 34% considered themselves independent. And most do not agree with Obama that the economy is getting better. In fact, 63% believe it’s getting worse or is not getting better, and only 36% believe it’s getting better, which is actually an improvement for Obama. By a 46% to 43% margin, they would vote for Romney over Obama if the election were held now. And this is a group in which 45% have a favorable opinion of Obama, while only 31% have the same feeling about Romney. It goes without saying that polls are a snapshot in time, and will certainly move in both directions in the months leading up to the election. And there are other polls showing Obama with a double-digit lead in the gender gap. But this is significant because it comes at a time when the Obama campaign has ramped up, and made a strong push to win over women voters. The media have clearly carried their message for them.
It has been obvious for a long time that Obama, despite his public statements to the contrary, did not oppose gay marriage. But now John Heilemann, the liberal columnist writing in New York magazine, has confirmed the extent of the duplicity. According to Heilemann, “Barack Obama knew the ludicrous pretense that his views on the issue were ‘evolving’ was living on borrowed time. Surely some reporter would ask soon enough if Obama would have signed the bill were he in Cuomo’s loafers. The president informed his senior advisers that the answer was yes (duh). And thus, the only question was whether to endorse gay marriage publicly before Election Day or try to stall until thereafter. After months of internal deliberations, Obama rendered his decision early this year. ‘He was clear,’ a top White House official tells me. ‘He said, ‘If I get the question, I’m gonna have to answer it, and if I don’t, we gotta figure out the best way to do it [before November 6].’”
As a matter of fact, when they were asked about it back in late March by Greg Sargent of The Washington Post, the answer from the administration was that “The President and the President alone will come to a decision.” He obviously didn’t feel the need at that time, as Heilemann suggested, to come clean.
So for the past year, Obama now claims, he has known he was going to make the announcement that his evolution on this issue was complete. But while saying he now supported same-sex marriage, he in fact endorsed a state’s right to decide, with no plan to push federal legislation, other than a tepid call for the repeal of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. It was apparently a purely political calculation of when the time was right to make the announcement for maximum political gain. Frankly, that claim is not very credible. The more likely scenario is that he planned to announce it after the November election, but with Vice President Joe Biden’s gaffe, meaning that he inadvertently revealed his and the President’s position, Obama’s hand was forced.
So how to explain the President’s dwindling gender gap? “The answer isn’t all that complicated,” argues Jonathan Tobin of Commentary magazine. “Though some liberals may be convinced there is a GOP war on women, most aren’t buying it any more than they believe the president’s flip-flop on gays was a principled stand. Whatever their positions on social issues, most women seem to believe that the economy and the well-being of their families is their primary concern and on that score, Obama has lost their confidence. And it’s not clear that it can be won back by ginning up fake controversies that are transparent attempts to demonize Obama’s opponents.”
This credibility gap extends to many other areas as well. Does Obama really believe in the Afghanistan mission as it has been carried out, or was it another political calculation centered around Election Day 2012? At the time he announced the troop surge in Afghanistan, which fell significantly short of the numbers sought by his generals on the ground, he also announced a timetable for pulling out the troops. On top of that, during his public flip-flop on the gay marriage question, talking to ABC’s Robin Roberts, Obama stated that the troops are “out there fighting on my behalf,” rather than on the country’s behalf, again highlighting the Obama-as-narcissist theme.
Obama’s credibility was further damaged when it was discovered and publicized by the Heritage Foundation that he was inserting himself into the biographies on the White House website of nearly every president of the past century, with favorable comparisons. Specifically, at the end of the bio of every president since Calvin Coolidge, the Obama White House has added a comment under a section titled, “Did you know?” In each case it was an attempt to gain stature or political advantage for Obama by taking something that they had done as president, and bragged how he was building or expanding on it.
In the case of Ronald Reagan, Obama tried to make it seem that he would have endorsed Obama’s so called Buffett Rule that he is hoping to get passed. Here is what was added to Reagan’s biography: “In a June 28, 1985, speech, Reagan called for a fairer tax code, one where a multimillionaire did not have a lower tax rate than his secretary. Today, President Obama is calling for the same with the Buffett Rule.” Investor’s Business Daily (IBD), citing Reagan’s son Michael, called this “a bold-faced lie.” They wrote, “Rather than raising the capital-gains tax on successful investors or punishing wealthy people—which are Obama’s priorities—Reagan wanted full-bore pro-growth tax reform that would slash rates for everyone, simplify the tax system with only two brackets and eliminate tax shelters that allowed people to avoid paying any taxes at all.”
The White House attempted to explain this away through an anonymous source telling The New York Times that “We simply added links at the bottom of each page to related whitehouse.gov content, which is a commonly used best practice to encourage people to browse more pages on a site.” IBD saw it somewhat differently: “What we have here is an Orwellian rewriting of history akin to the fictional Winston Smith doing it on a daily basis for the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s novel 1984.”
It is an appalling example of narcissism and political gamesmanship, and just bad form. It is something you would expect from Hugo Chavez, or the former Dear Leader in North Korea. It is not fitting for a U.S. president to insinuate himself into other official presidential biographies for propaganda purposes when he has temporary control of the White House website. Especially when the added notations are provably false. While the liberal media are ignoring the story, the conservative media’s reaction ranges from amusement, to disbelief, to outrage.
Obama also has a credibility problem with regard to his position on Israel. As he and the State Department have evolved from supporting Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, to calling it a subject for final status negotiations; to releasing $147 million to the Palestinian Authority, overriding a congressional freeze on those funds; to making demands of Israel on borders and settlements that have never been made; to embracing the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned Hamas and other terrorist groups, many have serious questions about whether Obama is as supportive of Israel as he sometimes claims, particularly when speaking to Jewish groups. Should we expect to see increased pressure on Israel if he is re-elected in November? We know what he told Dmitry Medvedev to pass along to Russian president Putin about cooperating with Russia on their concerns about our missile defense plans: “This is my last election,” Obama said while not aware there was a live mic nearby. “After my election, I have more flexibility.”
Based on how “flexible” Obama has already been with the election ahead of him, how flexible would he be if gets re-elected?