Charles Krauthammer on Obama's Re-election Strategy

Charles Krauthammer says president has to demonize opposition in order to win in 2012


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 18, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Back of the Book" segment tonight: Almost every poll in the country shows President Obama's support continuing to erode. So if he wants to win re-election, the president must do something dramatic. Charles Krauthammer thinks he knows what that will be. Charles joins us now from Washington. So he's going to make it personal, right?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's not what will be, it's what he's been doing now for a couple of months when he decided, look, he can't run the way an incumbent usually runs. An incumbent usually runs for re-election on one of two things: on stewardship, how he managed the country and the economy, and on ideology or policy or vision, what he's done, the policies. He can't run on stewardship in a country with 9 percent unemployment, with stagnant growth, practically zero, and having run up $4 trillion worth of debt in three years, an indoor galactic record. He can't run on the policies and the vision, the ideology because what's he going to run on? "I passed a trillion-dollar stimulus which was wasted and left not a trace. I passed a health care act which is intensely unpopular, which is leading to all kinds of uncertainties and which last week we had to chop off a major element of it because it's completely unworkable. I tried to institute cap-and-trade, which a Democratic candidate for senator in a state had an ad in which he shot a rifle bullet through the bill as a way of demonstrating how much he, a Democrat, hated it"?

O'REILLY: Yes, that was Manchin in West Virginia.

KRAUTHAMMER: He can't run on the vision. He can't run on the stewardship. So what's he running on? He's running on envy, class envy, demonization. The rich are responsible for America's ills, and the Democrats are the protectors of -- the Republicans are the protectors of the rich. That's it.

O'REILLY: All right. I have one question before we get to specifically how you demonize. Alan Colmes, top of the broadcast, continues to put forth the mantra that the stimulus worked, that it kept us out of a depression. It kept everything better and all of that. You say without a doubt it failed. President Obama, I assume, is going to say, "Well, Colmes says that it worked, and we would be terribly off." And it seems that some people will believe that.

KRAUTHAMMER: But that's not even what Obama is saying. He tried that in the off-year election last year, and it's a farce. People are not going to re-elect you on a hypothetical of jobs at the head of a pin. What he's saying now is -- he doesn't even speak about the stimulus one. What he speaks about now entirely, he's saying the miseries of the country is because the wealthy 1 percent, as you hear in the Wall Street demonstrators, the wealthy 1 percent robbed, stole and destroyed the American economy, and everyone else is suffering, and the Republicans are the ones who protect them. That's the story -- it's not a defense of stimulus. It isn't a defense of Obamacare. It isn't a defense of his stewardship. He does not have a defense.

O'REILLY: It doesn't really make any sense -- it doesn't make any sense to say that, in 2005, 6, and 7, that a bunch of Wall Street pinheads were taking advantage of the lax mortgage climate, which came out of the federal government. As you know, Barney Frank and Fannie Mae, we have all gone through that. And therefore, what they did led to the catastrophe, and there's some truth to that, by the way. Some truth to that. But a voter, even a voter that's not very smart might say, "Well, you had, Mr. President, three years to improve on that, and you just made it worse." And then he says what?

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, and to make his argument even weaker, if that's the argument, Obama, that these terrible people on Wall Street are the ones who caused all this, and yes, your policies haven't done anything to ameliorate it. Isn't it true that you appointed, as your secretary of the treasury, Timothy Geithner, the guy who was the engineer of the bailouts, that you reappointed the head of the Federal Reserve, the guy who did the bailout with Timothy Geithner. You yourself as a senator and president supported the bailouts. So all of a sudden you're now pretending and thinking the American -- that the American people will not remember that you were in favor of the bailouts of people that you now denounce as people who never deserved it and who are destroying America. It makes no sense whatsoever, but it's all he has got.

O'REILLY: But people -- many voters don't even pay that close attention. They're just going to be -- as I said in the "Talking Points Memo," it's a surface thing.

So the last question to you tonight is: Is there enough dissatisfaction in America right now -- people angry about their economic status -- that they will respond to, "They're the bad guys and the Republicans are protecting the bad guys"? Is there enough to make Mr. Obama a winner on that ticket?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think not. The only people who love this stuff are the left. He has them anyway. They aren't going to support any Republican anyway. The American people are unhappy. They're demoralized in many ways, and they ought to be by the state of the economy. But when you play on envy, it works in other countries; it does not work in America for a majority. Americans understand that it isn't about the rich destroying of the poor or the middle class. It's largely -- and they understand this -- it's about a governmental election, a political election. It's about the politicians and the policies.

O'REILLY: Charles, thanks, as always.

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