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.