It’s a flawed strategy. George W. Bush is, today, according to a few national surveys, just about as popular as Barack Obama. Moreover, and with no disrespect intended, Bush is the past. America is concerned about its future.
This has not stopped the president, his surrogates, and his friends on the left from picking up the lance and going after the GOP and Bush, in the persons of former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, who have been active this campaign cycle raising money and helping candidates where and how they can.
For their troubles, they are now showing up in television ads suggesting misdeeds are afoot because the Republicans, in a few cases, will not disclose where their money is coming from. What the Democrats really want is for the GOP to hand them the bullets they will use to shoot at them over the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Rove and Gillespie are not the only targets. Following the lead of the liberal blogosphere the White House and MoveOn.org recently took direct action against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of illegally using foreign contributions to pay for political ads and election activities.
Asked by CBS’s Bob Schieffer to defend the charge on Face the Nation, senior presidential adviser David Axelrod responded, “Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not?”
By Axelrod’s standard the chamber is, apparently, guilty until it chooses prove it's innocent--to his satisfaction.
There is also the matter of Charles and David Koch, two wealthy midwestern businessmen who have for years contributed generously to the U.S. free market movement. Never mind that their philanthropic activities dwarf what they spend on issue-related politics; a prominent, elite magazine recently published a lengthy profile on their activities declaring, in effect, that it was open season on the Koch Brothers.
If that were all there was to it this might not be such a big deal--just media politics as usual. However, the release of the profile dovetailed quite nicely, for political purposes, with an alleged leak during a conference call with reporters from a senior administration official--identified elsewhere as Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee--suggesting the brothers’ privately-held company, Koch Industries, paid no corporate income tax.
White House officials deny Goolsbee leaked anything, rather that he was simply repeating information gathered from an outside source--not from tax returns--that was, in fact, false. Nevertheless, after senior Republican congressional leaders began to push the issue, the Treasury Department opened an investigation into the incident.
It’s probably nothing. Then again, we know that FDR, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon used the IRS as a weapon against their political opponents. And we know the Clinton White House, as the Washington Post put it in 1996, “improperly collected hundreds of confidential FBI background files in 1993-1994” belonging to Republicans, an activity members of the GOP alleged were an effort to dig up political dirt. And folks at the Bush 41 State Department did go through Bill Clinton’s passport files. So maybe there is some kind of nefarious activity going on at the White House. It’s a fair question to ask and, using the same standard Axelrod has for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, can anyone there prove there isn’t?