Obama’s Strong-Arm Tactics

Kim Strassel adeptly encapsulated the White House’s treatment of those who dare to disagree with their policies – talk radio, Fox News, politicians of both parties, and the Chamber of Commerce to name a few.  To wit:

What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.

The Oval Office might be more concerned with the long term. It is 10 months in; more than three long years to go. The strategy to play dirty now and triangulate later is risky. One day, say when immigration reform comes due, the Chamber might come in handy. That is if the Chamber isn’t too far gone.

White House targets also aren’t dopes. The corporate community is realizing that playing nice doesn’t guarantee safety. The health executives signed up for reform, only to remain the president’s political piñatas. It surely grates that the unions—now running their own ads against ObamaCare—haven’t been targeted. If the choice is cooperate and get nailed, or oppose and possibly win, some might take that bet.

While these smear campaigns and freeze outs may yield fruit in terms of rallying the liberal base, I can’t see it doing any long-term good with the bulk of voters.  Ms. Strassel is completely correct in her speculation that the president will likely want, or need, the help of some of the very people he’s chosen to vilify.  It may be easy for Obama and company to say one thing one day and then completely change course the next, but the memories of most are at least a bit longer.  He’s won the presidency.  It’s time to do a little more presiding and a little less campaigning.  Of course, the fray between the Obama team and Fox might also serve as a smoke screen of sorts to divert the public’s attention from the proposed health care bill.

I will give a tip of the hat to the major network’s and CNN for standing up to the White House and thwarting their plan to keep Fox from interviewing the “pay czar”  while allowing the others in the media pool time with Mr. Feinberg.  Go here to read more on that.  Whether you like Fox or not, the actions of the White House in limiting them access are way out of line.  It’s a far cry from the openness espoused by President Obama during his presidential campaign.  At least, the other major media outlets seem to be recognizing this now.

If Fox can be frozen out, the same tactics can easily be applied to other networks and journalists.  Either they stand up now or risk being pawns of the Obama team for the duration of the next four years.  Cowhering from a bully generally doesn’t result in a viable outcome for the one being bullied.  I wish “progressives” felt more of a call to bully those who want to destroy the United States (Iran comes to mind) instead of focusing their scorched earth techniques on domestic opposition (and perceived opposition) to their ideology.  What’s so “progressive” about wanting to squash civil debate, anyway?

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