Conservative Political Commentary

...usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign of Desperation? Obama’s War on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

President Barack Obama and his people are engaged in a fairly strong effort to discredit the United States Chamber of Commerce by accusing them of spending foreign money in the current election campaigns. This has brought vehement denials from the Chamber and other groups the White House has been aiming at with similar accusations.

If you were wondering whether Obama is anti-business, this should be the clincher in that debate. (See my recent article). Now, of course, “Big Business” is the bad guy, more or less in the same category, rhetorically speaking, as “Wall Street,” just greedy fat cats who will stoop to anything to promote their agenda.

As reported by Politifact,
Here's what the president said at a rally on Oct. 7, 2010, on behalf of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley:
“Just this week, we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections. And they won't tell you where the money (for) their ads comes from.”
On ABC's This Week on Oct. 10, 2010, George Will connected the dots: “Well, he won't tell us who he's talking about. He's talking about the Chamber of Commerce, which does indeed receive dues from foreign entities that are associated with American business, just as the AFL-CIO receives dues from foreign entities associated with it. And -- and the shock and awe that we're supposed to feel from this is somewhat selective.” ….
…[N]o one has offered any evidence that the Chamber of Commerce is not complying with that law [i.e., the law requiring that foreign funds be segregated.] [1]
Karl Rove rightly points out that Obama’s statements are not in keeping with a President’s proper behavior, as reported by Fox News:
“Have these people no shame? Does the president of the United States have such little regard for the office that he holds that he goes out there and makes these kind of baseless charges against his political enemies?” Rove said. “This is just beyond the pale. How dare the president do this.” …. [2]
Soon-to-depart Presidential adviser David Axelrod believes it’s OK for government officials to hurl charges and claim that the ones accused must prove they are not guilty. The Hill blogger Walter Alarkon writes:
Axelrod was pressed by CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Sunday for evidence that the foreign campaign contributions benefiting the GOP is more than “peanuts.”
“Do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” Axelrod said on “Face the Nation.” “The fact is that the Chamber has asserted that, but they won’t release any information about where their campaign money is coming from. And that’s at the core of the problem.” ….
“Don’t accuse those who are playing by the rules of somehow doing something that is unethical or illegal,” [Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed] Gillespie said on “Face the Nation.”

Gillespie added that it was “an unbelievable mentality” for Axelrod to assert charges about foreign contributions without backing them up [3]
As Fox News has noted:
“David Axelrod is either woefully uninformed or willfully deceptive and dishonest,” Gillespie said. [4]

Not even AP, usually a reliable helper for Obama, is ready to go along with these reckless accusations:
The Obama administration and its allies are going all out against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and GOP-leaning groups, accusing them of using foreign money to help finance political ads. Trouble is, they're providing no evidence …
“I challenge the Chamber of Commerce to tell us how much of the money they're investing is from foreign sources,” Biden said during a fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Chris Carney in Scranton. “I challenge them, if I'm wrong I will stand corrected. But show me, show me.” …. [5]
The AP article quotes a Chamber official as saying that no money from foreign sources is used for political purposes. [6] Also:
Bruce Josten, the chamber's top lobbyist, was even more pointed: “We are seeing an attempt to demonize specific groups and distract Americans from a failed economic agenda,” he said in a statement. [7]
Various published reports have said that the Chamber has spent $25 million for political advertising, and expects to spend $50 million more this election cycle. This is what has Obama’s forces worried, because most of that money will be in support of GOP-leaning causes. As the reader can see, there are several things the Republicans find objectionable about the president’s war on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

1. It makes a serious charge while offering no evidence.
2. It assumes guilt until innocence is proven.
3. It ignores the fact that unions and other Democratic-supporting organizations also receive foreign money and engage in political spending, but no one thus far has questioned their compliance with the law governing foreign funds.
4. It is seen as an attack on business and portrays Obama as anti-business.
5. It contributes to what businesses perceive as a hostile environment, one that discourages business expansion and hiring, through high taxes, over-regulation, and the federal government’s generally hostile attitude.
6. It is a lie and a cheap campaign trick perpetrated by people who ought to act better.

This charge could very well backfire, and open the Democrats up for more scrutiny. Remember Clinton‘s “Chinagate”? Also, voters these days are quite capable of seeing through such phoniness.

No one should be shocked or surprised at such a ridiculous charge. But, neither should anyone be ignorant of the fact that it is unsupported and hypocritical.

[1] “President Barack Obama says foreign money coming in to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be helping to fund attack ads,” 10/11/2010, Politifact. According to the website, “PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in politics.”

[2] “Rove, Gillespie Slam Obama for Spreading ‘Baseless Lie’ Over Foreign Contributions,” 10/10/10, Fox News.

[3] Walter Alarkon, “Axelrod: Chamber must prove foreign money accusations false,” 10/10/10, Blog Briefing Room, The Hill.

[4] “Rove, Gillespie Slam Obama for Spreading ‘Baseless Lie’ Over Foreign Contributions,” See [2].

[5] Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, “SPIN METER: Foreign money in politics? Not proven,” 10/11/2010, via Yahoo! News.

[6] and [7] Ibid.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

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