2012 Campaign on Full Display at Facebook Town Hall

President Obama was in Palo Alto, California on Wednesday at the headquarters of social media giant Facebook to get in a few more digs at Republicans while trying to reconnect with a key constituency he will need to get re-elected — the youth of America. His visit highlighted the vital importance of social media and hinted at another revolution in using such technology for political gain.

It was the second of three town halls the president is holding this week to highlight his deficit reduction plan. His primary methods of attack involve playing the class warfare card and drawing unflattering and false distinctions between his nebulous, non-specific outline and Rep. Paul Ryan’s detailed alternative proposals. But perhaps most significantly, the town hall showed that Obama has hit the ground running in his bid for a second term, and the 2012 campaign has begun in deadly earnest.

As with his speech at George Washington University last week, the Facebook town hall was just a prop to hurl extremely partisan and misleading barbs at his GOP opponents, demagoguing the deficit issue by portraying Republicans as heartless politicians who want to cut the deficit “on the backs of people who are poor, or people who are powerless, or don’t have lobbyists, or don’t have clout.” He joked with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that he was perfectly willing to pay higher taxes. “I’m cool with that,” deadpanned Zuckerberg as the friendly, partisan audience laughed and applauded.

Demonizing “the rich” with the most outrageous rhetoric he has used to date, Obama portrayed the wealthy as selfish, mean-spirited, miserly, and cruel:

Their [the rich’s] basic view is that no matter how successful I am, no matter how much I’ve taken from this country…their notion is despite the fact that I’ve benefited from all these investments…that somehow I have no obligation to people who are less fortunate than me, and I have no obligation to future generations.

This is the kind of populist demagoguery we can expect in the campaign. President Obama will seek to compare the “radical” and “shortsighted” Republican plan with what he calls his “balanced” approach to deficit cutting. In the Obama universe, only the rich and the defense department will suffer pain while he increases spending for radical environmentalism, education, transportation, and other pet programs he euphemistically refers to as “investments.”

Obama can get away with this because his so-called deficit reduction plan is ethereal and unspecific, and the numbers he uses are basically pulled out of thin air. The president foresees $1 trillion in revenue from taxing the wealthy, which may or may not be realistic if tax rates return to Clinton-era levels. But he also wishes to cut $2 trillion in unspecified spending over the next 12 years, including another $400 billion from defense on top of the $400 billion already announced by Secretary Gates that will be trimmed from future outlays. That leaves $1.6 trillion in spending cuts for which the president has no specifics, no ideas, and no plans.

The last trillion dollars the president is proposing in savings will accrue as a result of reduced debt financing. If interest rates stay at or near 0% where they are now, that might be realistic. But few analysts believe that as the economy begins to heat up, the Federal Reserve can maintain interest rates at such historically low levels. It is much more probable that the part of the budget dedicated to servicing our debt will outstrip Medicaid spending by 2018, and then climb even higher — from $196 billion in 2010 to $928 billion by 2021.

The surreal nature of these numbers allows the president the luxury of telling his constituencies – students, minorities, unions, and blue collar workers — that the GOP wants to take away their government goodies while he, Obama, will not only protect their benefits, but actually increase “investments” for them. It is rank hypocrisy and dishonesty, but realistically, who is going to call him out on it? The GOP is already losing the narrative battle as the president pounds away with no effective counter from Republicans.

This will become important as the campaign shifts into high gear. The president repeated his extraordinarily misleading explanation from his George Washington University speech last week of how we arrived at such a perilous fiscal state. He continues to blame it all on his predecessor, while eschewing responsibility for the trillions in additional debt that has accumulated as a result of his massive increases in spending. His mantra includes the dubious assertion that his trillions in spending headed off a global depression — a statement on par with his belief that his stimulus bill saved “millions of jobs.” It is not provable, but has become a convenient crutch that the president has used to deflect criticism of his spending increases.

There was one more theme that the president sought to highlight with his visit to Silicon Valley: his use of Facebook, MySpace, and other social media outlets in 2008 was only the beginning. No matter what one can say about the president’s policies, it must be acknowledged that he has built an organization that is still far ahead of the Republicans in the vital area of social and new media.

ABC News reports that Obama has 17.4 million followers on Twitter and 19.3 million fans on Facebook. “The White House averages 250,000 visits to its YouTube channel per month and its website received roughly 1.1 million unique visitors in January, according to ComScore,” says the network.

But the real breakthrough technology for 2012 will be mobile applications for smart phones and other personal technology devices. The administration launched new apps for the iPhone and Android platforms on Tuesday that will alert supporters if the president is making a speech. They report 400,000 downloads so far.

But how will such technology impact fundraising, volunteerism, and advocacy? The Christian Science Monitor gives an idea of how these mobile applications will work. An attendee at an Obama rally might check in using Facebook or Foursquare, taking a snapshot of a QR bar code — which downloads a program onto your smartphone. The program may or may not be visible as an app, but while you think you’re telling your friends where you are, the campaign has gotten ahold of your email address, Twitter and Facebook usernames, and more. Next time the campaign wishes to raise some cash, they text you or send a message with a request for a donation. It is in this way that the Obama campaign will maintain contact with millions of people, as well as “hypertargeting” specific demographic groups to get their message out.

As we have seen, that message will center upon attacks on Republicans, the “rich,” conservatives — any identified group that opposes the president. Demonizing his political opponents on the Internet is only a part of it. Obama’s fundraising apparatus is already in high gear, and many analysts fully expect the campaign to raise close to $1 billion before all is said and done. That money will buy a lot of ads depicting the GOP as unfeeling, uncaring, uber-rich robber barons who don’t want to pay their “fair share” of taxes.

It will be a tremendous challenge for the Republican nominee to counter this kind of dishonest campaigning. And with the president’s re-election campaign already well underway, the GOP has a lot of catching up to do.


  • geez

    About the only thing this President has "saved or created" would be more Muslim Brotherhood cells. He is a useful idiot at a time we need anything but useful idiots. Let's put him on the book tour in 2012… he can play more golf and do that poorly as well.

  • ydroustan

    One Ought To Watch Atlas Shrugged To Understand Obama's Intentions.

  • Amused

    Hey , take a dose of your own medicine ….Republicans have been campaigning and praying for Obama to fail since his first day in office …../…HYPOCRITES !

    • Stephen_Brady

      That's right! We are. And he is.

      The reason? Obama's success equates to the failure of the United States. Do you get it?

      • Amused

        Yea I get it , Republican Administrations put us 13 trillion in the hole , wrecked the economy , and we're calling anything Obama does a failure .
        You get that genius ?

        • Stephen_Brady

          You really are amusing … do you understand that, moron? Or should I phrase it in third grade prose?

  • "gunner"

    " But he also wishes to cut $2 trillion in unspecified spending over the next 12 years"
    …and if he thinks he's going to still be in charge, in the white house, in 12 years something is fishy in his thinking. presidents are constitionally limited to two terms of four years, eight years in all, in office ever since the death on office of franklin delano roosevelt in his third term and running for a fourth. we've had enough of "philosopher kings", we need someone with real world practical leadership experience

    • Jim_C

      Maybe a little investigation into our political system–who is in charge of the money, time increments in which budget decisions take place, etc.–is in order for you, my friend.

  • Jim_C

    Yep, Obama is in campaign mode, and soaking the rich will be part of the message. This is politics; you use what works.

    Republicans, after ignoring deficits since, well, forever–are now trying to gin up their base regarding deficits. After ignoring/standing in the way of health care reform since, well, forever–they are now trying to poke holes in "Obama's" plan. After advocating a hawkish Middle East policy since at least 9/11, they are trying to poke holes in Obama's hawkishness.

    Kinda reminds me of how Kerry was "for the war, before he was against it."

    Hey…good luck with that.

  • JosephWiess

    Their [the rich's] basic view is that no matter how successful I am, no matter how much I’ve taken from this country…their notion is despite the fact that I’ve benefited from all these investments…that somehow I have no obligation to people who are less fortunate than me, and I have no obligation to future generations

    I hate to tell Obama, but the rich have no obligation to do anything, which is the same right that everyone else enjoys. The rich don't have to donate to the poor, or provide soup for kitchens, or even make sure that future generations get a leg up.

    Rather it is every man's responsibility to care for himself and his family, not the governments.

    The federal government could cut entitlements and it wouldn't bother me at all. Because I'm not a government slave.

    • Amused

      That's right Jackson , so tell your idiot Republicans to keep their bloody hands of S.S. and medicare …..millions of working people P-A-I-D for those benefits with their OWN MONEY , if you dont believe it , look at your next pay stub …that is , if you work for a living .
      So when you use your rhetoric word "entitlements " dont include S.S. or Medicare .And if Republican have any brains at all , they had better ZIP IT on any talk of cuts in that area .

    • Jim_C

      The thing about entitlements is that you're entitled to them, since you pay for them.

      • Joe

        Actually, you don't voluntarily pay for them. The Damned government takes them away at gunpoint and forces you to pay them. If it was voluntary, then I'd have to cash to do with what I want, and I'd put them in a savings account or an IRA or a retirement account of my own.

        I've checked my copy of the constitution and nowhere does it say that the government is responsible for taking care of you when you get old, need medication, or when you're sick.
        That's what sovereign citizens do, take care of themselves, and tell DC to get bent.
        By the way, by the time I'm old enough to retire, those entitlements won't have enough cash to back them up, so they'll be worthless.

  • geoplaten

    "The GOP is already losing the narrative battle as the president pounds away with no effective counter from Republicans."

    This is how I would counter:

    Even if you believe Obama would keep his promises to you 20 years from now (ed. note: he wouldn't), he will be long gone, retired and enjoying his $20 million a year on the speech circuit. Every politician 20 years from now will have no choice but to renege on all of those wonderful promises. EVERY ONE – BOTH PARTIES. Unless we take steps now to protect them.

    That's, of course, assuming we still have a country in 20 years…

  • Maxie

    The GOP needs to engage or set-up a professional PR group to craft effective attacks and counter-attacks to the MarxiCrat demogoguery. The resources and talent are available to do this and its an imperative undertaking. Good old TV is sufficient to get the message out – Smart phones and other youth-oriented hi tech-ery notwithstanding.
    The core problem with the GOP ist that it's a schizoid party – split ideologically between the "midwest" conservative core constituency and the "east-coast" RINO leadership. Until this long-standing dichotomy is resolved the GOP will remain politically impotent. IMHO

  • Amused

    The GOP needs to get someone with atleast half a brain , and dump the idiots in the Tea Party , give Palin the Reality Show that she really wants , and get a large roll of duct tape for Bachman . Then , maybe , they may stand a chance of winning in 2012 . Oh …and come up with a credible political narrative . The longer you allow yourselves to be associated with jerks like Beck , Alex Jones , Breibart , and their ilk , the more dumb you will look on election day . And cut out the birther B.S., I know 80% of you go for it , but that's 80% of a minority , and you can see how stupid it made Trump look already .

  • ZZMike

    "Their [the rich's] basic view is that no matter how successful I am, no matter how much I’ve taken from this country…"

    He gets it right there. The things he has taken from this country are unbelievable. He has taken great chunks of liberty, great chunks of freedom, great chunks of General Motors, of banks, …

    At this rate, there won't be much left of it when he gets done.

    "Yep, Obama is in campaign mode,…"

    And he will be until November 2012. The only good thing about that is that he just might be so focused on trying to get reelected that he won't have time to screw up the country more than he already has.

    But take a good look at this "campaign mode".. Started with Facebook – the prime social network for his target demographic: the under 40, the first-time voters (whose heads have been filled with mushy economic theories in their universities).

    Keep an eye on where he goes, what avenues he uses. He's not called the "Organizer-in-Chief" for nothing. Besides the social networks, there's always his loyal shock troops: the SEIU, the AFL/CIO, the Teamsters.

    So far, I've seen almost nothing from the Republicans. It's going to be an uphill fight. Lose this one, though, and there won't be any more.

  • beckncall

    People had better wake up and smell the coffee……..we can't sit on our duffs and do nothing until this election. Don't think you can wait until October and win this, we all had better get active and start working on telling the truth to our family and friends. America needs YOU!

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