Mar 19, 2012 1 Comment ›› Pat Dollard
President Barack Obama blamed Fox News for his political woes in a private meeting with labor leaders in 2010, saying he was “losing white males” who tune into the cable outlet and “hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7,” according to journalist David Corn’s new book, “Showdown.”
In “Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party” — which hits bookstores on Tuesday — the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones chronicles the White House from the 2010 midterm elections to the start of the 2012 campaign. The book focuses on key moments of Obama’s presidency, such as Osama bin Laden’s assassination, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Arab Spring, the debt ceiling crisis, and the president’s dealings with Congress.
Corn writes that after the midterm elections, Obama told labor leaders in December 2010 that he held Fox partly responsible for him “losing white males.”
“…Fed by Fox News, they hear Obama is a Muslim 24/7, and it begins to seep in…The Republicans have been at this for 40 years. They have new resources, but the strategy is old,” Corn recounted Obama as saying.
(Also on POLITICO: Obama’s go-it-alone program only goes so far)
Obama shifted his own tactics in 2011, Corn writes, moving from compromising with Republicans to challenging the tea party. The president, senior adviser David Plouffe and other top administration officials plotted a “secret strategy” — by not unveiling a specific deficit reduction plan and not instantly challenging the House Republicans’ budget cuts — to “draw the GOP into a trap.”
The book also highlights some of the administration’s battles on the economy. Corn writes that when then President’s Council of Economic Advisers chair Christina Romer advocated for more stimulus in a fall 2009 meeting, Obama said, “I can’t get it done. Don’t you understand that?”
And in a meeting with an adviser after the 2010 midterm elections, Obama slammed corporate executives for attacking him.
“I saved these guys when the economy was falling off a cliff,” Obama said, according to Corn. “Now I get nothing but their venom.”
But Obama was more optimistic about his policies the morning after the 2010 election, telling aides he planned to get a tax deal, extend unemployment benefits, ratify the new START treaty, repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and pass the DREAM Act and a children’s nutrition bill in the following two months. David Axelrod told Corn he remembered, “We all looked at each other quizzically, ‘What does he see that we don’t?’”
The book goes on to detail how Obama achieved some success in several of his policy aims, such as his outmaneuvering of Sen. John McCain to win the START ratification and his deal to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by letting Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen control how the repeal would be enforced.
And in the budget negotiations of 2011, Obama and then budget chief Jack Lew decided to let House Speaker John Boehner win budget cuts to appease tea partiers in Congress, but Lew negotiated in order to control the impacts on important programs and “in a way, snooker the Republicans,” according to Corn.
Still, after Obama gave a speech in April 2011 calling the House Republican budget a “pessimistic” vision of the United States’ future, the administration ordered Cabinet secretaries and top officials to dial back the rhetoric. “The president is not wild about his message now,” a top Obama adviser said at the time.
Sean Hannity addressed Obama’s reference to Fox News on his radio show Monday, saying it “sounds like the president is very angry behind the scenes, very angry.”
And, Hannity said, he wasn’t surprised Obama decided to pin the blame on Fox. “Now this is a guy who claims he never watches cable news and then he’s making this broad sweeping statement that’s false,” Hannity said.
“You always have Fox and talk radio to fall back on when all else fails,” Hannity added.