Political Animal


June 11, 2012 5:20 PM Heads We Win; Tails You Lose

By Ed Kilgore

Gotta say, the endless profusion of concern-troll “advice” to President Obama from Republicans is beginning to fascinate as well as baffle me. I mean, here’s this man whom they’ve demonized from the day he was elected, relentlessly calling him a crypto-Marxist who hates the private sector and religion, and is seeking to bribe and steal his way to re-election, and also a buffoon who got through life as an affirmative action baby and couldn’t find his own butt with both hands. Yet they somehow appear to believe he is going to (a) take their advice to (b) change everything he’s saying and doing.

The latest concern troll is the often-wrong, never-in-doubt lifetime achievement award winner, William Kristol, who has a long Weekly Standard post telling Obama in detail what to do to win re-election. He identifies five major “problems” Obama is facing. Four of them can be boiled down to: he is not governing and campaigning as a Republican (you know, supporting permanency of the Bush tax cuts, abandoning “class warfare” rhetoric and criticism of Republicans, yadda yadda). The fifth, and I love the way it is formulated, is that Obama has “[t]urned his most leftwing backers into heroin addicts in terms of the demands they are making on him.” In other words, his base is disgruntled (never mind his current 89% job approval rating from self-identified “liberal Democrats,” according to Gallup), and it’s all Obama’s fault.

Kristol offers Obama six things he could do to turn things around. Three involve governing and campaigning more like a Republican. Two require big mea culpa firings (of “senior campaign aides” and of the Vice President). And one is composed of cheerleading for the eurozone, which is presumably what Kristol would expect a President Romney to do.

Maybe the whole idea here is simply to encourage scenarios where Obama either loses or helps move the entire political system to the right—which again, makes no sense if you are simultaneously describing him as hellbent on erecting a dictatorship of the proletariat. Or maybe people like Kristol are pulling an even dumber stunt by offering Obama advice they know he won’t take so that they can then encourage the “objective” parts of the MSM to describe him as blindly following a sure political death spiral. I really don’t know.

But I sure don’t see any Democrats wasting time offering Mitt Romney constant advice to abandon his many promises to conservative activists. If anything, they’d prefer he be more honest about his agenda instead of complaining about “distractions” any time his own plans as president are mentioned, as though it’s unfair to compare the two candidates instead of treating the election as a up-or-down referendum on the performance of the economy under Obama.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • citizen_pain on June 11, 2012 5:43 PM:

    I've always been confident that Obama's chances at re-election are pretty good, but with the way the news cycles have been turning lately, it appears that there is an outside chance that R-(Money) may be able to pull off a win.
    I just have a bad feeling that the fix may be in. Never before have so many powerful forces been aligned against a president.
    The main theme is of course that the economy is struggling, and it's Obama's fault. Never mind the fact that the poor economy is due to republican intransigence, obstruction, and in my opinion treason.

  • DJ on June 11, 2012 6:04 PM:

    Kristol is a smug prick with no basis to be either. Based on his track record, any advice he gives Obama should be scorned and ridiculed.

  • AK Liberal on June 11, 2012 6:05 PM:

    Ed, none of this is sincere, as you know. I think the idea is to sow seeds of doubt and dissatisfaction among low-info voters. It's a disinformation campaign.

  • Doug on June 11, 2012 6:22 PM:

    As Kristol's record re prognosticating is abysmal, I'm tending towards AK Liberal's disinformation campaign idea. Or maybe it's just the various Republican pundits' stupidity bursting forth?
    It's not as the two are mutually exclusive...

  • Diane Rodriguez on June 11, 2012 6:44 PM:

    Isn't Kristol one of the titans of political brainpower that found and recommended Palin for VP? He's certainly an easy mark for a huckster with legs and false eyelashes, but really nothing else need be said on his Presidential election expertise.

  • HMDK on June 11, 2012 7:07 PM:

    Kristol should be in Guantanamo.
    Well, actually, there shouldn't BE a fuckin' American concentration camp in the first place, but since americans seem to be overall okay with it, they should at least put the idiots responsible for their despair in it. It would only be futile revenge, but it would still be better than the shit-snake feasting on its own molting tail.

  • Kathryn on June 11, 2012 7:18 PM:

    Yeah Bill was infatuated with Caribou Barbie for quite a while. Haven't seen him on The Daily Show lately for his yearly take down by Jon Stewart. WIth his frozen smile and easily punctured "facts", he's no match for Stewart or probably quite a few posters to Wahington Monthly and certainly Ed could rattle him.

  • PTate in MN on June 11, 2012 7:22 PM:

    "I sure don't see any Democrats wasting time offering Mitt Romney constant advice to abandon his many promises to conservative activists."

    Well, dang, I'm a Democrat and I'd be thrilled to waste time offering Mitt Romney advice. I just wish I could do so in an elite media forum.

    For starters I'd tell him this: Mitt, you've got big problems with the American electorate. They think you're a heartless, immoral panderer who would sell your wife if there was a profit in it. Americans want to believe our government is "of, for and by the people" but, too often over the past decade, they've been deceived by politicians just like you. Guys like you act like our country is up for sale to the richest bidder.

    Fundamentally, Americans are decent, hard-working, responsible, generous, moderate people. We care about fair play, tolerance, honesty, and the well-being of our families and neighbors. We want our children to be healthy and well-educated, to grow up and form stable families and to have opportunities for jobs that will allow them to prosper in life.

    So Americans value government that watches out for the interests of the middle class. They value Social Security and Medicare, functioning schools, roads and bridges, safe neighborhoods and stable property values, regulations that provide safe food, clean air and water and stable banks. They want the legal system to be just. They like having access to birth control, and they would love not to be anxious about paying for health care. And they care about the future; they want the government to invest in sustainable energy sources (like solar, wind and geothermal).

    What they don't want are more excuses, deception or doublespeak about why the government can no longer help the majority of Americans....but can afford tax cuts for billionaires. Americans are sick and tired of being lied to, confused and exploited by the media, corporate and political elite.

    So, what you need to start doing, Mitt, if you want to be the next POTUS, is to become a good Democrat. Basically, you need to be Obama. Obama's fine. We've had a decade to experience the damage done to the US economy and society by Republican policies so shame on you all. Shame on you and other Republicans for seeking to undermine American's confidence in their institutions of self government. Shame on you for sabotaging our economy. Get the rich to pay their fair share. Support government spending to stimulate the depressed economy. Support policies that help the middle class and our children.

    So that's my advice for Mitt. But, truth to tell, even if Mitt did have a change of heart, I would never vote for him. Voting Republican is an act of treason.

  • Joe Friday on June 11, 2012 7:24 PM:

    Yesterday on ABC's THIS WEEK, Stephy read something from a column by Republican Matthew Dowd. He said, I would have thought that the Obama campaign would have prepared a single disqualifying argument and pounded it for the last five or six weeks. They have done neither.

    Sounds more like the Obama campaign's simultaneous arguments, that Romney's Bain history of being extraordinarily successful at making he and his buddies extremely wealthy while devastating workers AND the litany of Romney's failures as governor, have the Republicans worried.

  • mudwall jackson on June 11, 2012 11:53 PM:

    "Ed, none of this is sincere, as you know. I think the idea is to sow seeds of doubt and dissatisfaction among low-info voters. It's a disinformation campaign.?

    my guess is that most low information voters wouldn't know kristol from crystal.

  • stinger on June 11, 2012 11:55 PM:

    And there's nothing racist about associating "heroin addicts" with a black man, no siree.

  • veblen's dog on June 12, 2012 3:17 PM:

    Has Bill Kristol ever been right about anything? Seriously, can anyone find a Kristol "prediction" that came true?