The Real Bully Running for President

Intimidating private citizens is only the beginning of Obama's strong-arming tactics.

Last week Washington Post ran a story attempting to portray presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as a homophobic bully. Despite every effort to contain it, the story imploded, as factual inaccuracies came to light. Furthermore, the victim's own sisters (he died of liver cancer in 2004) claimed to have no knowledge of incident, with one of them telling ABC News, “If he were still alive today, he would be furious.” Yet as is often the case with highly publicized news stories, other mainstream media outlets attempted to keep the thematic aspect of the piece alive, irrespective of the facts. Thus, when former Newt Gingrich campaign manager Rick Tyler showed up for an MSNBC interview with Martin Bashir, Bashir attempted to do exactly that. Tyler was having none of it. "I would consider things like Barack Obama bullying the Supreme Court, bullying the EPA, bullying hundreds of property owners and business owners, bullying donors to the Romney campaign. That’s what bullying is when they have an effect on private citizens not people running against them but people who disagree with them politically," said Tyler. "That’s bullying!"

Tyler's assessment of the current president is spot on. Moreover, one need not go back almost five decades to underscore that reality. As recently as April 26th, the Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel revealed that one of the Obama re-election campaign websites, "The Truth Team," published "Behind the curtain: A brief history of Romney's donors." It was an ugly attempt to slur and intimidate donors to Mitt Romney's election campaign. Eight private citizens were described as having "less-than-reputable records," being "on the wrong side of the law" and making themselves successful at "the expense of so many Americans."

"These are people like Paul Schorr and Sam and Jeffrey Fox, investors who the site outed for the crime of having 'outsourced' jobs," writes Strassel. "T. Martin Fiorentino is scored for his work for a firm that forecloses on homes. Louis Bacon (a hedge-fund manager), Kent Burton (a 'lobbyist') and Thomas O'Malley (an energy CEO) stand accused of profiting from oil. Frank VanderSloot, the CEO of a home-products firm, is slimed as a 'bitter foe of the gay rights movement.'"

One of those men, Frank VanderSloot, did an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, expressing what it was like to be on a presidential "enemies list." "Sure enough then the attacks started coming I really thought I'd made a mistake," he told Susteren. "As I thought about it, I thought, 'this is America and we can't let these tactics intimidate us,' and so I remain undeterred." Yet VanderSloot also noted that the media "have lodged all kinds of innuendo in my direction, accused me of all kinds of bad things. People have called my children. They’ve been surfing their LinkedIn sites. They’ve been asking interviews of my kids." VanderSloot also revealed that a "former U.S. Senate investigator" and "member of the sub-committee on Homeland Security" is doing an investigation of him and his family, which "worried him a lot."

Strassel confirmed that outrage, noting that "a man named Michael Wolf contacted the Bonneville County Courthouse in Idaho Falls in search of court records regarding Mr. VanderSloot. Specifically, Mr. Wolf wanted all the documents dealing with Mr. VanderSloot's divorces, as well as a case involving a dispute with a former Melaleuca employee." She further revealed that "Mr. Wolf was, until a few months ago, a law clerk on the Democratic side of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations."

All of the above is having an effect on VanderSloot's bottom line. In an interview with Fox's Neil Cavuto, he revealed that a "couple of hundred (customers) we can track" have cancelled their customer membership with Melaleuca, a wellness company run by him. Strassel put the hit piece targeting VanderSloot and the other seven Romney donors in proper perspective. "These are wealthy individuals, to be sure, but private citizens nonetheless. Not one holds elected office. Not one is a criminal. Not one has the barest fraction of the position or the power of the U.S. leader who is publicly assaulting them," she writes.

She also reminds us that bullying is neither something new, or particularly out of character, for a president who has "targeted insurers, oil firms and Wall Street--letting it be known that those who oppose his policies might face political or legislative retribution," "lectured the Supreme Court for giving companies more free speech and (falsely) accused the Chamber of Commerce of using foreign money to bankroll U.S. elections," and "ginned up an executive order (yet to be released) to require companies to list political donations as a condition of bidding for government contracts."

Strassel's above reference to the Supreme Court of the United States is well known. After a stunningly bad performance before the Court by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. defending ObamaCare, the president tried to intimidate the Justices with public statements about how  "unprecedented" it would be for an "unelected group of people" to overturn a law passed by a "strong majority" in Congress. A month later, the White House upped the ante, claiming Medicare's payment system would "freeze up" if the Court overturned the law. "Medicare cannot turn on a dime," claimed former administrator Don Berwick, Obama's first Medicare chief. "I would not be surprised if there are delays and problems with payment flow."

Former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) administrator Thomas A. Scully put the lie to that claim. "It is highly unlikely in the short term that any health plan or provider would suffer," he said. "If you look at the way the law was (financed), it was a combination of higher taxes and lower (Medicare) payments. That's what you would be rolling back." What else would be rolled back? The $500 billion in Medicare cuts called for by Obamacare, along with the deep cuts in the Medicare Advantage program many elderly Americans prefer.

So why make such predictions? The payment network handles about 100 million monthly claims, and Medicare caters overwhelmingly to Americans ages 65 and over. Thus, this was nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to frighten seniors.

If that has a familiar ring, maybe it's because the president used the exact same bullying tactic during the 2011 budget debate engendered by reaching the debt ceiling. That was when he attempted to scare seniors regarding their Social Security checks. "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved (the debt ceiling) issue," warned Mr. Obama. "Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

That was an utter lie. Even if an agreement had not been reached by the deadline, there was plenty of money available to continue servicing the debt, and send seniors their Social Security checks.

None of these tactics should surprise anyone. Mr. Obama's penchant for bullying has been clear since 2008. “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” the president said at a Philadelphia fundraiser during his last presidential run. “Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.” And yet again, before the 2010 election, he urged his Latino supporters to "punish our enemies."

For perspective's sake, it is critical to remember that these examples of bullying and intimidation by the president and his surrogates have occurred since 2008. This makes the Washington Post's effort to portray Mr. Romney as a bully for an incident that occurred in 1965--fully 47 years ago--a comical effort at best, and a transparently partisan one at worst.

Perhaps the Post and other members of the mainstream media, all of whom are determined to allow large swaths of the Mr. Obama's past to remain unexamined, might want to reconsider what the term "journalistic integrity" really means. That goes double for the LA Times, whose egregious suppression of a 2003 videotape showing Mr. Obama praising terrorist Yasir Arafat's former spokesman, Rashid Khalidi, is the essence of media malpractice.

Why is it necessary to portray Mitt Romney as a bully? So Barack Obama, the real bully in this presidential election contest, doesn't look as bad by comparison.

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