Monthly Archives: October 2011

Obama Response to Romney Offers Clues to 2012

The Obama administration’s response to criticism about his decision to end the war in Iraq may offer a clue or two about the fate of next year’s presidential election.

While each of the GOP presidential contenders had harsh words for Obama, the president focused his response on Mitt Romney – acknowledging Romney’s frontrunner status and the likelihood that the former Massachusetts governor will be the Republican standard bearer in 2012.

More telling, however, was the tone of the administration’s response, delivered by Press Secretary Ben LaBolt:  “Mitt Romney’s foreign policy experience is limited to his work as a finance executive shipping American jobs overseas.”

As I wrote in an August 19 column, throughout most of his time in the Oval Office, the president has been a punching bag, absorbing hits from Republicans and occasionally from members of his own party. He doesn’t generally strike back as forcefully as he did in this response to Romney.

In that August 19 column, I was writing about the Obama administration’s quick and strong response to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments on the state’s loss of federal funding. Such displays from the president and his administration, however, been few and far between. To win re-election in 2012, Barack Obama is going to have to engage in street fight politics. That’s not how he got to the Oval Office, but if he wants to stay there, it will take more than eloquent speeches and a charismatic personality.

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Occupy Wall Street: Public Policy or Just A Public Spectacle?

More than a month has passed since an assortment of people of different ages and different backgrounds first gathered in a park in New York City’s Wall Street financial district because a common concern about America’s disparity in wealth and its impact on their quality of life.

Since then, Occupy Wall Street has become a much-discussed and debated topic — first on social media pages and eventually by mainstream news outlets. The movement also has grown with increasing numbers of participants not only in New York, but all across the nation and even beyond its borders. It also has become campaign fodder for America’s most powerful politicians.

What Occupy Wall Street has yet to accomplish, however, is to have a concrete impact on public policy. Continue reading

Sometimes, the Pen Can Still Be Mightier than the Sword

The old axiom “The pen is mightier than the sword” does not always hold true, but the “pen” still can be a powerful tool.

As Tia Goldenberg of the Associated Press reported in an excellent piece on Gilad Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity, his freedom in large part resulted from “a public relations campaign that turned the Israeli soldier into an icon, portraying him as the nation’s son with bumper stickers, billboards and TV ads.”

Read Tias’s article here.

Glad It Ain’t So, Joe

For full disclosure purposes, Joe Doria gave me my first job in government communications – as a press staffer for the N.J. Assembly Democrats when he was Assembly Speaker.

That caveat aside, it was gratifying to learn that the FBI’s July 23, 2009, raid of Doria’s home failed to turn up evidence to charge the longtime state official with any crime. And while it was a nice and unusual gesture for the U.S. Attorney’s Office to issue a letter indicating that it would not file any charges, the letter hardly rectifies an extremely unfair series of actions.

A full year and half before the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued its letter, the Star-Ledger’s Bob Braun reported that federal authorities had proceeded with the raid even though they already had learned that Doria had not accepted a bribe as had been alleged. According to Braun, a key witness had told federal authorities: “Joe Doria never saw a dime and never asked for a dime.”

Nevertheless, the FBI raided Doria’s Bayonne home and took several boxes, he immediately resigned as N.J. Community Affairs Commissioner (at the request of then-Gov. Jon Corzine), and he has lived under a cloud of sorts for over two years.

The letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office may have removed that cloud, but as another well-known New Jerseyan, former U.S. Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, said after he was exonerated of corruption charges: “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

It’s Not the Media that Got It Wrong

I was more than a bit troubled by the message contained in an October 14 fundraising appeal from the Obama campaign.

With “They got it wrong” in the subject line, the message bashed the media for reporting that small donors have been less than enthusiastic in contributing to the upcoming presidential campaign.

“Sometimes the media gets so caught up in its own echo chamber that the storyline separates from the facts,” Rufus Gifford, National Finance Director for Obama for America, wrote in the message.

The message does not contain one word about why Barack Obama deserves to be re-elected or what he has accomplished in the Oval Office. Instead, it encourages donors to open the wallets to prove the media wrong.

To make matters worse, the news story that apparently drew the Gifford’s ire was in fact an accurate portrayal of campaign fundraising status at the time it was published. He identifies it only as a story published by an unnamed “major newspaper” with the headline: “Small donors are slow to return to the Obama fold.”

The unnamed newspaper is The New York Times and the story can easily be accessed online.

Judge for yourself.