Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, recently released a video providing a “sneak peak at 2012 strategy.” In his video, he sounds an alarm that “2012 will be different than 2008.” Messina believes it will be different because of Citizens United v. FEC, a Supreme Court decision that restored the First Amendment protection of political speech, regardless of the identity of the speaker. To listen to Messina, you would think it only benefits Republicans.
Messina is attempting to distract viewers. In reality, Citizens United benefitted all Americans. In the 2010 election cycle, it allowed organizations to present additional information to voters. Small businesses, corporations, non-profits, and labor unions were able to engage in political speech. Armed with additional information, voters chose overwhelmingly to oust incumbent politicians. This was neither a Democrat nor a Republican issue — it was a common-sense issue. The failed policies of complacent incumbents were rejected.
Because incumbent politicians fear speech, they seek to regulate it. The then-Democrat-controlled Congress tried and failed to pass the DISCLOSE Act, a piece of legislation designed to limit speech. Having failed to restrict our rights legislatively, the Obama administration has attempted an end-run around the legislative process and will implement these restrictions through an executive order. Efforts to silence political speech are contrary to our nation’s founding principles.
In his efforts to fire up Obama supporters, Messina presents a disingenuous chart to show the impact of GOP outside groups. The chart reports that no funds were raised in 2008, $70 million were raised in 2010, and $120 million are expected to be raised in 2012. This is an attempt to mislead viewers into believing that a campaign finance revolution has occurred — the floodgates have been opened. In realty, as noted in a very small disclaimer, the chart only shows the fundraising activity of one organization, American Crossroads. American Crossroads did not even exist in 2008. If it didn’t exist, of course it didn’t raise any funds! That’s like noting Barack Obama raised zero funds for a 2004 presidential campaign. It’s an utterly useless statistic used to mislead and misdirect from real issues.
This video represents a big “tell.” The reason that the Obama campaign didn’t discuss one public policy issue in their campaign strategy video is because they have nothing positive to report to the American people. If President Obama started talking about real issues, he would have to answer for high unemployment, exploding debt and deficits, and a rudderless foreign policy. Mr. Messina is right, “2012 will be different than 2008.” This time, President Obama will have to run on his record, rather than mere platitudes. Rather than demagoging Citizens United, Mr. Messina should focus his efforts on defending President Obama’s failed policies and platform. Thanks to Citizens United, we’ll be able to have a more robust debate about the issues, something the president and his advisers are clearly worried about.