Friday, 16 March 2012

GOP Mocks 'Achievements' in Obama Campaign Video

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ObamaTime truly flies on the Internet, and political campaigns may sometimes lead to strange alliances, both real and fanciful. By the time the Barack Obama campaign released its much-publicized YouTube video, The Road We've Traveled, Thursday night, the Republican National Committee had produced a poster that, while not exactly promoting the "docuganda" (what the Washington Post dubbed the combination documentary and propaganda production), it did call further attention to it.

"After Four Years The Only Bad Thing About Their Time in Office Was That It Was Just Too Good," the poster proclaims in a paraphrase of a statement made by the video's director, Davis Guggenheim. Under the title of the video, the GOP, in apparent reference to the President's nearly $800 billion economic stimulus program, says the production "Wasn't shovel-ready and wasn't even paid for." Noting the starring roles of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the poster notes that the video is "not starring 13 MILLION UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS, THREE RECORD DEFICITS and A COHERENT ENERGY POLICY."

In an interview about the campaign video Thursday, CNN Piers Morgan grilled Guggenheim, an Academy Award-winning director, about the absence of any negative aspects of the Obama administration.          

"Most documentary makers balance these movies with the negative as well as the positive," Morgan said. "What are the negatives in your movie about Barack Obama?"

"Well, I mean the negative for me was there were too many accomplishments," Guggenhem replied. "I had 17 minutes to put them all in there."

"Oh, come off it!" Morgan objected. "You can't say that with a straight face. Come on." The director insisted his face was straight and his portrayal of the Obama presidency was accurate. He took "a cut in pay" to direct the video, he said, because he admires Obama as a leader. 

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"The only negativity about Barack Obama is there are too many positives?" asked the incredulous Morgan, who appeared to miss the point of a campaign video and seemed to be confusing it with a news documentary. Political campaigns do not hire high-priced talent like Guggenheim and actor Tom Hanks, who narrated the video, to advertise their negatives. So the Obama campaign is not likely to expend any part of its impressive advertising budget to tell us about the budget deficits of the past three years, any more than the Republican National Committee will remind us that the records Obama broke to establish new record deficits had been set by the previous administration, headed by Republican George W. Bush. And The Road We've Traveled, while boasting of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the renewed focus on the war in Afghanistan, says nothing about civilians killed by U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Middle East, or the deteriorating relationship between the United States and Afghanistan as evidenced by anti-American riots and assaults by Afghan people on U.S. and NATO troops there.

Nor is there any mention of recent controversies like the policy of targeted killings of American citizens suspected of plotting or participating in attacks against the United States, or the administration's conflict with the Catholic bishops over a mandate for contraceptive coverage in all employee health plans, including those for employees of religious-affiliated institutions. And while Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats criticized the Bush administration over violations of civil liberties, they are silent now about the President Obama's New Year's Eve signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the President to use the military to arrest U.S. citizens as terror suspects anywhere, including "the homeland," and imprison them for an indefinite time without charges or trial.

The fast-paced video moves swiftly through events of Obama's first three years in the White House, including the rebuilding of roads and bridges under the economic stimulus plan and the government bailout of the auto industry. A brief close-up of the headline and byline of an op-ed by GOP rival Mitt Romney, entitled "Let Detroit go Bankrupt," was included, though Romney has argued that the kind of bankruptcy he described was little different from the restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler imposed in the government rescue.

The time allotted to Obama's signature achievement, the healthcare plan passed in 2010, is brief, but long enough to include fleeting sights and sounds intended to convey the intensity and strident nature of the opposition. Footage of Tea Party demonstrations is shown, with picketers chanting "Kill the Bill" and signs directed at the President, including one that says, "You Lie," and another that depicted Obama crawling out of a coffin with the letters, "RIP" on it. "It'll be a cold day in hell before he socializes my country," one opponent is heard saying.

The video features Vice President Joe Biden's and former President Bill Clinton's praise of Obama's decision last May to send Navy SEALS in to get Osama bin Laden at the al-Qaeda leader's secret hideaway in Pakistan. It ends with a boast of more than 3.5 million private-sector jobs added, billions in new investments by General Motors and 17 million children who cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.

"Let's remember how far we've come," Hanks says in his narration, "and look forward to the work still to be done." President Obama and his campaign team won't be the only ones working on the theme of The Road We've Traveled, and the claims it makes for the President. Republicans and independent fact checkers are doubtless already scrutinizing the content for errors and misstatements, intentional and otherwise, and scrutiny will undoubtedly find many problematic areas in Obama's policies, as already documented by The New American.

Photo: Screen-grab from The Road We've Traveled