GOP Foes, Team Obama Pile on New Frontrunner Perry

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Welcome to the Big Rodeo, Gov. Perry

"Everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say.”

-- President Obama on CNN warning Rick Perry about his comments on the prospect of more stimulus by Federal reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Did you hear? Rick Perry threatened to execute Ben Bernanke and suggested that the reason the economy was in such bad shape is because President Obama is black.

Wednesday saw a full-blown media hyperventilation – stoked by the president and White House press secretary – over Perry’s comments that it would be “almost treasonous” if the Federal Reserve chairman were to print more money in a bid to boost the wilting economy in advance of the 2012 election.

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    The Obama campaign and its liberal backers have begun to build the narrative that Perry is a reckless and radical figure, including one cable and radio host who cut a Perry sound bite to make it seem that Perry had said Obama was “a dark cloud” hanging over the American economy instead of what he did say, which was that uncertainty and debt were dark clouds hanging over the economy. This led to a long discussion about Perry’s secret racism and the racist tendencies of the Tea Party movement.

    Meanwhile, other reporters have been digging through the trove of piquant Perry statements from his decade governing Texas, including the hot microphone moment when he left the set of a querulous TV interview saying “adios mofo.”

    More moderate Republicans and backers of fellow frontrunner Mitt Romney first took offense to Perry’s remarks about Bernanke on Monday, but by Tuesday afternoon, the White House was joining the pile on, with the press secretary warning that Perry should watch his tone.

    While Donald Trump was able to force Obama to show a copy of his birth certificate, the concerted attack on Perry shows the sharpest reaction yet to a Republican candidate by the administration and the rest of the campaign. It’s flattering for the Texan in a way, but it also reveals the greatest threat to his dive to the nomination: a quick burnout.

    Certainly the administration and the Romney campaign would both benefit if Perry’s rapid rise resulted in an equally rapid blowout. Obama could reinforce his “reckless and radical” charge against Perry and Romney would be the last man standing for the GOP.

    The question for Perry now, having taken his first big step into the center ring of the political media circus, is whether he can learn to tamp down homespun hyperbole without losing the heat that is finally firing up long-dissatisfied Republican primary voters.

    Obama Questions Republicans’ Patriotism, Calls for End to Partisanship

    “Time and again, we have reached out to President Obama in the hope that he would finally be ready to do what is needed to solve our debt crisis and tackle America’s job crisis. The offer still stands. Let’s get to work.”

    -- House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a USA Today Op-Ed.

    On the campaign trail this week, President Obama has been accusing Republicans of putting their party ahead of their country.

    This echoes a campaign talking point from his communications adviser Robert Gibbs, who rhetorically asked on NBC’s “Today” if Republicans “just don’t want to see this economy get better because they want to see an election that might turn out better for them?”

    The president and his team are questioning the motives and patriotism of their Republican opponents, not allowing that there is a real difference of opinion. It is a good indication of how far apart the Obama Democrats and conservative Republicans are these days when the president says that dissent from his economic worldview is not patriotic. This is partly just the scorched earth campaigning that one expects from an embattled incumbent, but it is also part of a bargaining strategy for the months ahead.

    The president is scheduled to lay out his proposal to stave off a looming economic downturn and spur job growth in September with what his allies are calling a “major speech.” The danger of such a speech is that it will become mere background noise. Obama has given several major speeches on the economy, but none have taken root. They have mostly just dissolved into word clouds.

    But Obama has taken the unusual step of accusing Republicans of a lack of engagement on the economy and now questioning their patriotism. This is part of his re-election strategy to make himself look good in comparison to the direly unpopular, divided Congress. Obama needs to use the time between now and when Republicans pick a nominee to make his political bones as an economic warrior. He’d rather be indirectly debating Rep. Michele Bachmann over a doomed stimulus package than talking about the scope of his presidency with Rick Perry or Mitt Romney.

    Obama, though, launched his campaign against a do-nothing Congress just before beginning a 10-day getaway of his own on a Martha’s Vineyard estate.

    House Republicans have bristled at the idea that they would be accused of dallying by a president who has been on the campaign trail and is now heading up to Kerry country for a seaside break. Plus, many of their constituents are also demanding to know why Congress is taking the month off with so much hanging over the country’s head.

    With the president out of town and the country in high-anxiety, many House conservatives say that rather than waiting for Obama to fire off the next shot in the war of economic words, congressional Republicans should get to work.

    The consensus among Congressional leaders seems to be that the mostly symbolic advantages of returning to work early would be outweighed by the scrutiny that would be given the House as the only game in town. With the president away and the Senate not in session, it would be all eyes on the boisterous House and outspoken members like Bachmann.

    “We have a plan. We passed a budget. We’ve done our work. If the president is ready to join the discussion, we welcome him to the table even at this late date,” Said one House leadership aide. “But we’re not going to go scurrying around because of his blatantly partisan attacks from his campaign bus.”

    Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out their argument on debt reduction and economic growth in a USA Today op-ed, setting up the argument for next month as debt negotiators get to work and Obama makes his latest jobs pitch. The message: better late than never.

    Heath Law Decision on Track for Summer 2012 Decision: Cui Bono?

    “If the court upholds the law, the Republican base gets energized four months before the election. If it gets struck down, well, there go the guts of the centerpiece of Obama's domestic agenda."

    -- Bradley Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, talking to the Wall Street Journal.

    The political stakes are huge for President Obama and for Republican Mitt Romney as the Supreme Court weighs when to take up the issue of mandatory health insurance.

    The Obama administration has now lost twice on the main lawsuit over the president’s national health care law, a challenge brought by 26 state attorneys general and the nation’s largest group of small business owners.

    After a blistering ruling by a Florida judge against the law’s requirement that all Americans either purchase private health insurance or be enrolled in a government plan, administration lawyers appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which ruled against the central provision of the president’s law last week.

    The process has gone quickly as judges in this case and in other, smaller challenges to the law have worked expeditiously. States, individuals, corporations and groups regulated by the new health requirements and unable to obtain special waivers from the White House face tight timetables for implementing the rules passed in March 2010, so courts have moved fast.

    There are still two challenges working their way through appellate courts, but the final arguments are set for next month. Chances are good that the issue will be fully ripened by the end of the year, which would allow the Supreme Court to accept the case for its January 2012 session, that, in turn, would bring a decision in the summer of 2012, right in the heat of the general election.

    The court could still opt, though, to kick the case until the fall, when its decision would be beyond the current electoral firestorm.

    If the court grabs the case in January, though, it means that there could be arguments over the mandatory health insurance provision at the peak of the Republican primary. As the president so often points out, the idea of requiring every citizen to purchase private insurance or accept government benefits was borrowed from the Massachusetts plan authored by Romney.

    Romney, now locked in a tough two-man race with staunch health-law opponent Texas Gov. Rick Perry, would be forced to revisit an awkward subject in his bid to woo skeptical conservative voters.

    Whoever wins the Republican nomination, though, will be challenging Obama on the unpopular law in the general election. There, it gets more complicated.

    If the law is upheld, it will outrage conservatives and make independents nervous as the Department of Health begins the work of implementation, costly to states and disruptive to current employer-based programs. It would add strength to the Republican argument that it will take a GOP president and Senate majority switch to undo the law.

    If the law is struck down, it is a serious slap at Obama, but it would also eliminate a major point of anxiety for independent voters. It would allow the president to back away from the law and make promises about future, more publicly appealing, legislation. Liberals, meanwhile, would be incensed, blame a Republican Supreme Court, and be energized to help Obama make another court appointment to tip the balance the other way.

    If Obama is still snake bit next summer, a defeat would probably just look like one more loss for a president who laments his own bad luck. (Of course, if he’s still in his current condition come June 2012, he would be all but unelectable anyway.) But if Obama is on the upswing by then, he might actually stand a better chance of re-election if his signature legislative achievement is struck down.

    And Now, A Word From Charles

    “He is on a political trip, which he pretends is not. Therefore our tax money is paying for this trip under the pretense that he is explaining his policies. It's clearly a campaign trip. It's all a stump speech.

    So he is on political trip in which he accuses his opponents of playing politics when he himself is engaged of politics at the same time and pretending only he speaks in the name of the national interest. He does it over and over again. I know it's going to be a theme of his campaign. If you call out Perry on his use of that, I'd call out the president on that as well.”

    -- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”