Opinion

Obama’s best argument for re-election

Photo of Lanny Davis
Lanny Davis
Former Special Counsel to President Clinton
  • See All Articles
  • Subscribe to RSS
  • Bio

      Lanny Davis

      Lanny J. Davis counsels individuals, corporations and government contractors, and those under congressional scrutiny, on crisis management and legal issues by developing legal, media and legislative strategies that are designed to best produce a successful result for the client. He has experience in securities fraud and SEC investigations as well, and has found that utilizing such an integrated legal/media/lobbying approach can lead to quicker and less expensive settlements or even successfully litigated outcomes. Senior officials of public companies have also hired Lanny and his crisis group to defend themselves successfully against "short and distort" attacks and other market manipulations. For 25 years prior to 1996, before his tenure as special counsel to President Clinton, Lanny was a commercial, antitrust, government contracts and False Claims Act litigator (both in defense as well as plaintiff). He has argued numerous appellate cases in the U.S. courts of appeals.

      In June 2005, President Bush appointed Lanny to serve on the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 2005 Intelligence Reform Act. In that capacity, he received the highest level security clearances so that he could be fully briefed and "read in" to the various anti-terrorist surveillance and financial tracking programs at the highest classified level. From 1996 to 1998, Lanny served as special counsel to the president in the White House and was a spokesperson for the president and the White House on matters concerning campaign finance investigations and other legal issues. Lanny has participated in national, state and local politics for almost 30 years. He has served three terms (1980 to 1992) on the Democratic National Committee representing the state of Maryland, and during that period he served on the DNC Executive Committee and as chairman of the Eastern Region Caucus. In Montgomery County, Maryland, he served as chairman of the Washington Suburban Transit Commission.

      Lanny has authored several books and lectured throughout the United States and Europe on various political issues. Between 1990 and 1996, Lanny was a bimonthly commentator on Maryland politics for WAMU-88.5/FM, a Washington, D.C. local affiliate of National Public Radio. He has been a regular television commentator and has been a political and legal analyst for MSNBC, CNN, Fox Cable, CNBC and network TV news programs. He has published numerous op-ed/analysis pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, he Washington Post and other national publications.

      Lanny graduated from Yale Law School, where he won the prestigious Thurman Arnold Moot Court prize and served on the Yale Law Journal. A graduate of Yale University, Lanny served as chairman of the Yale Daily News.

      Lanny is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and Connecticut and before the Supreme Court of the United States and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

(This column was preceded yesterday by one presenting Mitt Romney’s best arguments for winning the presidency in 2012. The author supports Barack Obama for re-election.)

First and foremost, President Obama must return to the themes of his 2008 presidential campaign and his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech that so inspired Americans from all walks of life, and from all across the political spectrum.

In that address, then-Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) referred to the “spin masters” and the “negative ad peddlers” who, he claimed, divided the country. And then he said to those offenders:

“Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states. … But I’ve got news for them, too: We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states, and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.”

This is the theme President Obama should repeat during his 2012 acceptance speech. He should commit to hitting the reset button and turning away from the “negative ad peddlers” who engage in personal attacks, and challenge Mitt Romney to do the same. And he should challenge Romney to debate the issues and propose specific solutions that can achieve bipartisan consensus.

He should acknowledge that Romney is a good man, a good father and husband and citizen, and that he is trying to do the right thing for the American people to solve our problems, albeit by a different approach.

Second, on the economy: Obama should admit that his policies have not worked as he had hoped — i.e., that unemployment remains at the same percentage, 8.3, in July 2012 as it was in February 2009. But then he should remind everyone about the Rule of Deep Holes:  When you are in one, stop digging.

And that is what he has done: stopped digging.

When he entered office, the nation had lost over 8 million jobs over the previous 15 months, an average of 712,000 jobs per month from October 2008 to March 2009. Over the last four years, 4.3 million new private-sector jobs have been created. The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan and respected expert, has stated that but for his stimulus program, the economic situation would be worse today.

Obama would enhance his chances to win the crucial undecided independent vote by endorsing the bipartisan recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission — increasing revenues through closing tax loopholes, cutting spending and undertaking entitlement reform. This would be in contrast to Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who oppose Simpson-Bowles. (Indeed, Ryan was a member of the commission and voted against its bipartisan recommendations, despite the fact that his fellow conservative Republicans on the commission, Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho, supported them.)