Is the Obama campaign really incompetent?

posted at 7:31 pm on May 27, 2012 by Karl

That seems to be the developing conventional wisdom, particularly right of center. To be sure, Team Obama has had its share of problems recently. However, there is probably both more and less to these problems than meets the eye at first glance.

The two big examples cited by writers like Matthew Continetti are Team Obama’s handling of same sex marriage and the seemingly ineffective attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital. These two supposed stumbles share at least two notable features.

First, both reflect tensions between elite Democratic constituencies that in recent cycles have funded the party and the rank-and-file constiuencies that have voted for it. Same sex marriage is a cause celebre for Hollywood, gay rights activists and the post-grad crowd, but not nearly as popular with working-class whites and socially-conservative blacks. The Democrat apparat is well aware of how much financial support they received from Wall Street, hedge funds and private equity firms in the pre-Obama era, but young Occupiers, Big Labor dinosaurs and assorted class warriors would like to plead ignorance. The stories about these issues are less about the Obama campaign specifically than about the difficulty any Democrat president would have managing the party’s voting coalition. One of the major themes of Sean Trende’s The Lost Majority is the difficulty any major party has in maintaining a broad coalition over time (Obama’s is already narrower than Bill Clinton’s). The major theme of Jay Cost’s Spoiled Rotten is how clientelism is a particular problem for the Democrats.

Second, these conflicts have particular resonance with a key Democrat constituency, i.e., the establishment media. Both issues involved what the media perceived as hypocrisy on Obama’s part. More significantly, they both afforded the media to push Obama from the left. Joe Biden’s allegedly premature comments supporting same sex marriage gave the media the opportunity to grill the White House about the gap between Obama’s stated position and the position the media believed to be his true position. Does anyone think the media would have been that dogged if establishment journalists did not uniformly support same sex marriage? Is the media’s problem more with Obama’s Bain-based attacks, or with the part about Obama taking money from the finance sector?

These two points provide two cautionary notes. First, Team Obama’s problems on these issues are not necessarily a sign of the campaign’s incompetence, but are perhaps an inevitable product of having to manage the Democratic Party’s voting coalition. Team Obama was probably going to have to choose which of its constituents to please, and which to annoy.

Second, if so, the media storyline about these problems being an issue of incompetence may be mostly that — a media storyline. In particular, it may be a media storyline driven by journalists’ own progressive biases. Conservatives and libertarians ought to look at the track record of the media forgiving Obama’s hypocrisies (e.g., rejecting public funding of his campaign, any number of national security and foreign policy stances) before planning on the media continuing with the incompetence storyline through November. The establishment media has written about “How Obama Got His Groove Back” on any number of occasions during his first term. It is a fair bet we will see those stories again before Election Day.

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Were he alive today, he’d want to see Democrat Senate Majority “Leader” Harry Reid in an orange jumpsuit. Also Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Del Dolemonte on May 27, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Only 3? He would not have made a very good Republican then:-)

bluefox on May 27, 2012 at 10:35 PM

If being ahead in most general and swing state polls is “incompetence”, then we should all strive for such incompetence!

inthemiddle on May 27, 2012 at 7:33 PM

Alternate planet…in your head…

Schadenfreude on May 27, 2012 at 10:41 PM

Is the Obama campaign really incompetent?


… When every thing that they are campaigning on is a lie, how would you define “incompetent”?

Seven Percent Solution on May 27, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Try presidency!

ToddonCapeCod on May 27, 2012 at 11:05 PM

DOTUS…….well planned and orchestrated by his EPA.

Two weeks ago, the Obama campaign quietly edited its website to highlight the president’s support for “clean coal.” In place of a section for “energy efficiency” with no mention of coal, now boasts that the stimulus package “invested substantially in carbon capture and sequestration research.”
The administration’s position on coal has, shall we say, evolved.

In 2001, the EPA released an endangerment finding stating that greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide threaten public health and the environment by contributing to climate change and that therefore they could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. Since then, as Bryan Walsh noted in Time magazine, the EPA has “embark[ed] on what could be the most far-reaching environmental regulatory scheme in American history.”

Already, 57 coal-fired plants have closed owing to the EPA’s regulations, according to the National Mining Association. Supporters insist that policies favoring renewable energy sources will lead to lower costs. However, the burden of these coal regulations has contributed to a $300 increase in the average household’s electricity bill over the last five years, despite the substantial stimulus investment “in carbon capture and sequestration research.”

Some of this increased cost can be attributed to more demand for electricity. But USA Today reports that the rise in cost is due in part to “the expense of replacing old power plants, including heavily polluting — but cheap to operate — coal plants that don’t meet federal clean air requirements.”

It’s impossible to predict exactly how much these regulations will cost, as the standards themselves are likely to change. Under the Clean Air Act, when an outside group sues an energy producer for supposedly overstepping an emission standard, the EPA can register a consent agreement, which settles the suit in exchange for toughening the standard industry-wide.

This is one of the problems with, for example, the EPA’s new, first-ever fracking regulations. Drilling companies are required to install emission-limiting technology, which most already use. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has called the EPA’s regulatory restraint on this front a “miracle,” adding that “most wellheads and pipelines already exceed the EPA benchmark.”

Once the EPA establishes regulations, however, they are bound to become more stringent over time. After the EPA produced its finding on greenhouse gases, for example, it declared that it would start regulating carbon, thereby initiating the continual ratcheting-up process.

Any hopes that the attempt by the Obama campaign to recast the president’s stance on coal presaged a change in the administration’s policies in the run-up to the election were soon dashed. On May 16, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson signed a toughened version of its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which require power companies to install equipment to reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gas, nickel, selenium, and cyanide in all coal- and oil-fired plants by 2016.

During a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Jackson testified that only about half of coal-fired plants now have such equipment. The goal of the new policy is to compel the rest of the plants into compliance, but it seems the new rules might simply chase some companies out of the market. According to West Virginia’s MetroNews, “the new standards Jackson signed . . . have already caused several power companies doing business in West Virginia to announce the closings of some of their older coal-fired power plants.”

This decision comes in the wake of the EPA’s proposal to cap carbon-dioxide emissions from new fossil-fuel-fired plants. Signed by Jackson in March, the proposal when finalized would limit new power plants that are 25 megawatts and larger to no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity. That would be a 40 to 60 percent decrease for the typical coal-fired plant.

The EPA “believes this proposed rule will have no notable compliance costs associated with it,” as it expects that new plants will already have the necessary equipment for carbon capture and sequestration because of “existing and expected market conditions.” If that were true, then the proposal would be unnecessary.

But even supporters of the proposal acknowledge (or celebrate) that the standards it imposes would raise costs. In an article for the Center for American Progress, Daniel Weiss, Jackie Weidman, and Celine Ramstein write that “these additional costs may make some proposed coal-fired power plants uneconomical, so they may be canceled.”

He is the DOTUS…….

……Accidentally or intentionally, the result is the same.

PappyD61 on May 27, 2012 at 11:10 PM

Concentrated CONTEMPT for the Sacrifices Made By Loving Humans:

williamg on May 27, 2012 at 11:14 PM

…not to worry…the MSM have more competent people…and they will work their utmost to get JugEars elected AGAIN!

KOOLAID2 on May 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM

You say his campaign is incompetent? Well, his whole administration is incompetent, why not his campaign? Smell the coffee AMERICA, get these corrupt thugs out of power.

FREEDOM4906 on May 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM


Mutnodjmet on May 28, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Del Dolemonte on May 27, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Well, I didn’t know all of that. If the movie was accurate in what was portrayed, then credit should be given for that. A documentary or a bio on the person’s life would or should reflect the bad along with the good.

Perhaps he evolved? I haven’t researched the man’s life tho.

bluefox on May 27, 2012 at 10:26 PM

The movie isn’t all based on Facts. I will leave it at that.

Del Dolemonte on May 28, 2012 at 12:19 AM

Is the Obama campaign really incompetent?

Let’s hope so, but plan that they are not and are engaged in a strategic feint of some sort.

We don’t want to become overconfident nor to be surprised. Assume they are playing incompetent while really lying in ambush somewhere.

AZfederalist on May 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM

What can we say? The man chooms with the best of them and apparently is good at intercepting stuff….

Sherman1864 on May 28, 2012 at 1:37 AM

Hard to blame the campaign – they have a defective product. It’s an indictment of our public education system that it could even be close.

Adjoran on May 28, 2012 at 1:49 AM

Adjoran on May 28, 2012 at 1:49 AM

…boy!…are you ever right!

KOOLAID2 on May 28, 2012 at 2:59 AM

I am waiting for Angry Birds White House:



Sherman1864 on May 28, 2012 at 6:04 AM


Or a giant unchecked case of hubris? Karma has a way of correcting these things when someone has done dirt to as many people as Obama and his inner circle have.

The media for the better part of five years has told Obama he walks on water and can do no wrong.. and if not.. they’ll damn sure portray him that way. Our biggest opponent this fall isn’t Obama but his 900lb. gorilla MSM which shills for him.. not everyone watches FOX and gets the other side. CNN (though that may change as they peer into ratings Hell.) NBC MSNBC (hissssss….) ABC CBS NPR and PBS all seem to show there is only one valid set of views.. the liberal ones.. ours are either sneered at in contempt or omitted entirely. So The media in effect grants him as much advantage as any ten superpacs do. They are only commercials.. the networks between news and entertainment are nearly 24 and 7 infomercials selling Obama as if he were the grand messiah himself come to Earth to save us poor wretches.. even though we still haven’t purged all bad thoughts from our public opinion yet.

The goal of the MSM seems to be not just to elect Obama.. but to shame two thirds of the nation into silence. They show only the correct set of beliefs and brand anyone else as some kind of freak.

We have to take down Obama first..

But even then.. the battle just takes a different turn.. it’s not going to be over till we get our opinion equal time and equal respect on every media venue.. then.. we can claim a complete victory.

mark81150 on May 28, 2012 at 6:05 AM

It is fun though watching the Obama campaign do a face plant every few days..

There is a God.. and he is not only just….

He has a wicked sense of humor.

mark81150 on May 28, 2012 at 6:09 AM

and the seemingly ineffective attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital

This is more than a stumble. Obama’s only long-shot chance has been to portray Mitt as an unacceptable alternative to him. The election is about our lousy economy and who is able to improve it. He has been failing spectacularly. This was his only potential avenue of attack. PBHO took his best shot and it was a dud. He’s already lost this election and it’s not even June!

MJBrutus on May 28, 2012 at 6:53 AM

AZfederalist on May 28, 2012 at 12:30 AM

The problem that I see with you theory is that there is no where else for them to go. Aside from playing on the religious bigotry of the “diversity” crowd, they have nothing else.

MJBrutus on May 28, 2012 at 6:56 AM

The Obama campaign has the task of turning a steaming pile of s*#t into chocolate cake. They only can cover it with whipped cream and hope that no one notices the stink and flies. Not working……

joe btfsplk on May 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM

We’ll know for certain in November. Until then, don’t get cocky.

Cleombrotus on May 28, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Is the Obama campaign really incompetent?

To the extent they are socialists trying to sell anti-capitalism big government economic philosophies and class warfare to the US electorate, yes. But that’s only because a (just over slim) majority of the US electorate still seems to pull back when faced with undisguised socialism. US socialists have been very successful, but only when disguising and camouflaging their efforts in other terms.

Obama’s class warfare campaign strategy might play better somewhere like Western Europe. It wouldn’t work in Eastern Europe where they have some experience with where socialism ultimately leads.

Obama could still win, but probably not with an anti-capitalism class warfare message.

farsighted on May 28, 2012 at 8:21 AM

Actually, the left has done a marvelous job of furthering the agenda to remake America into a Marxist utopia -so one would have to measure any questions of failure or incompetence in terms of how well they are acheiving their goals. They have acheived more in the last couple of years than in all the decades of the cold war. Alas moral atrophy and leftist indoctrination and command of all of America’s institutions have taken their toll.

The hedonistic, revolution of the sixties against God’s authority has destroyed our very culture which was the fortress and foudation of our political structure.The communist understood this better than we, and have thrived in using it against us.

Sadly,few have recognized that the very culture of self has allowed the big government anti-individuals Marxist mentality to manipulate away our freedoms by catering to our worst elements of fallen nature. Moral anarchy has a grave price tag attached to its seductive pleasures.

The seeds have been planted long ago and our nation is now producing the contamninated fruit.

Our nation is not the great nation our forefathers entrusted to us many years ago. This election notwithstanding.

Don L on May 28, 2012 at 9:53 AM

The real question is “Is Obama really incompetent?”

And the answer is “Yes. An unqualified Yes.”

ProfShadow on May 28, 2012 at 9:59 AM

They are not just selling celebrity this time, it’s harder to sell what they have wrought, and harder to sell their ideas, now that we have “found out what is in it. I think they are still masters of marketing and spin, but they don’t have a product anyone desires.

Fleuries on May 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Has anyone considered that Obama has gone rogue, and is insisting on implementing his own campaign ideas based on his experience as a community organizer? He has stated that he is better at all of this than his staff.

From Jodi Kantor’s The Obamas, page 66:

Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

stillings on May 28, 2012 at 10:56 AM

I would argue that while tactically Obama has had no master strokes as of late, it’s Romney who has made strategic blunders that will undermine his campaign over the long term, particularly on foreign policy. He jumped at regime change in Syria, he termed Russia our “number one geo political foe”, and he insists on picking a fight with the Chinese over currency. Put these together and for the remainder of the campaign Romney appears to almost want America to act as a geopolitical destabilizer. This undermines his economic message, as a world gone to sh*t is not one in which American GDP can soar.

ernesto on May 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Storyline ? Agreed. My opinion is that The One is ignoring all advice and speaking the way he really feels, throwing in “America is a great country”, to placate his advisers now & then. He has been successful at tearing this country up and dividing – he just will not go that far in his utterances.

democratsarefools on May 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM

They only can cover it with whipped cream and hope that no one notices the stink and flies.

joe btfsplk on May 28, 2012 at 6:59 AM

I worked with Obamacare.

Finbar on May 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM

IT dammit!

Finbar on May 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM

“Is the Obama campaign really incompetent?” – Karl

It is, but they’ll explain it away via surrogates that it’s all part of a grand plan to win back the hope ‘n change crowd, i.e., a bob ‘n weave diversion.
Yep, that’s our POTUS … The smartest man-child on the planet!
It shore aint the “charisma” no mo, Slappy.

Karl Magnus on May 28, 2012 at 11:36 AM

Were he alive today, [Alvin York would] want to see Democrat Senate Majority “Leader” Harry Reid in an orange jumpsuit. Also Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Del Dolemonte on May 27, 2012 at 10:18 PM

..if he didn’t first pick ’em off with a Springfield ’03.


The War Planner on May 28, 2012 at 11:43 AM

WISE COUNSEL if you ask me.

I personally think Obama is incompetent; but I know for a fact that he’s corrupt and ruthless and will stop at nothing. So, you know, when a vicious creature is cornered, that’s when they’re most dangerous. Don’t take your eyes off of them for one moment. Complacency is not warranted.

mountainaires on May 28, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Good to see some incompetence happening where it can do the most good!

cheetah2 on May 28, 2012 at 3:42 PM

If obama supports the unions, then Obama should fly down to Wisconsin and help the cause. What is he afraid of?

newportmike on May 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM

Late to the game and I’m sure it’s been said, so indulge me: is there anything competent about anything 0bama-related..?

affenhauer on May 28, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Like the man himself, his campaign is so smart, so beyond our ability to comprehend that it only seems incompetent. His brilliance is blinding.

The Rogue Tomato on May 28, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Incompetent yes, but something worse, much worse it going on…
Willy’s World Blog.

old school on May 28, 2012 at 7:11 PM

When he lost the 2016 Chicago Olympics, Obowma has been on a petulant child rant and everything he has touched since then has turned to crap.

Can he take no for an answer?

dthorny on May 29, 2012 at 1:36 AM

“No, we’re not incompetent, we just need to do a better job getting our message out.” == BHO campaign staffer

Let me see. How does one actually do a better job pushing Marxism and anti-capitalist class envy?

We get the message.

BigAlSouth on May 29, 2012 at 6:11 AM


Yes, and it starts at the top.

The more he loses, the more desparate he becomes. He is the little child telling his mother that he is going to hold his breath until he gets his way.

Here’s a slogan for barack: “Incompetent from Day 1!

DuctTapeMyBrain on May 29, 2012 at 7:19 AM

Is the Obama campaign really incompetent?

How incompetent can they be when they got a complete zero elected to the presidency in 2008?

The problem this time around is now president zero needs to run on his track record, which is absolutely abyssmal. So all they can do is try to make people afraid of Romney, and hope to keep his base fired up, neither of which is going to work especially well.

eyedoc on May 29, 2012 at 9:14 AM

The man? Oh heck yeah.

The campaign? They got someone who isn’t qualified to be in a minstrel show chosen, by legal means, to be the leader of the most powerful (for now) nation on the entire planet.

“Stupid” I’ll readily give you, but “incompetent”? Their goal was to get him elected – and they did! You tell me how incompetent that is.

MelonCollie on May 29, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Not incompetent ? In ’08 Obama was lierally created, certainly protected by the media. What goes for him therefore goes for his team. Some severe scouring on the Rev.Wright thing alone could have shot him down. Besides The O ran agaisnt a virtual corpse. Now we have Dogs on top of cars 25 years ago and trying to slime Ann Romney? Having noted a couple of previos posts above it seems that some here can’t tell the difference between a protected campaign of a virtual unknown with no record to speak of, & close to 4 years in the WH. But it’s a big differnce & it shouldn’t need explaining. Likewise his crew of “savvy political operators”. Short form, so what happened to the genius Axelrod?
Obama can’t even get a Dem Senate to look at his absurd budget proposals. In a better world this bunch of buffoons would be denied employment at a zoo.

arand on May 29, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Judged by the standards of Cloward-Piven and Alinsky, his heroes, he’s a smashing success. Underestimate this DSOC/DSA/New Party Marxist at your peril.

ConservativeLA on May 29, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Geez, give them a break, look what they have to work with.

FineasFinn on May 29, 2012 at 11:31 AM

A fundamental flaw (of which there are a few) in the “Progressive” mindset is that everyone thinks like they do, responds to things the same way they do, and has the goals they do.

crosspatch on May 29, 2012 at 2:20 PM