More on the Obama of conservative imagination

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

22 May 2012


Steve Benen argues that conservatives are trying to fight the 2008 campaign again, but it won't work. Americans know Obama too well now:

Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) took on President Obama's record, arguing, "President Obama hasn't run anything before he was elected President of the United States. Never ran a state, never a business, never ran a lemonade stand."

The focus groups must have loved this, because Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus argued yesterday:

"[N]o matter what David Axelrod may say, President Obama's private business experience hasn't seen the inside of a lemonade stand."

This is a pretty standard criticism for any presidential candidate whose background is legislative work. Recent major-party nominees like John McCain, John Kerry, and Bob Dole — none of whom served as a governor or business leader — faced similar critiques.

But as we've talked about before, these criticisms of Obama's record were made four years ago. Since early 2009, he's been president of the United States during a time of foreign and domestic crises. Obama may not have led a state or a business before getting elected, but he led a nation after getting elected.

I understand the urge the right has to re-examine what they dislike about Barack Obama before he became president, but Benen is right. It won't work. Republicans can criticise Obama for what he's done. They can criticise him for what Americans believe he has done. But they can't credibly criticise him on the grounds of experience any more. As much as they'd like to tee off anew, Republicans are only going to win this election if they play the ball as it lays.

Previously on this topic: here, here, here, and here.

Tags: Barack Obama, Bobby Jindal, Conservatism, Election 2012, Reince Priebus, Republican Party

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