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Response to Karl Rove's remarks against Obama

By Neeraj Salhotra     3/29/12 7:00pm

Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, recently wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled "'The Road We've Traveled' with Obama." The piece centered on a film President Barack Obama's re-election campaign recently released entitled "The Road We've Traveled." Rove aimed to discredit the president's accomplishments, which are detailed in the film, yet, rather than offer constructive criticism, Rove resorted to hyperbole, sensationalist statements and even flat-out lies.

Rove first attacks the auto bailout as a mistake, claiming Chrysler still owes the government $24 billion. First, this claim is false - Chrysler owes the government $14 billion for the bailout, not $24 billion. Second, while $14 billion is significant, we must examine the benefits of the auto bailout to determine whether or not the decision was correct. The auto bailout saved over 1 million jobs, helped make Chrysler profitable again and allowed General Motors to reclaim its title as the world's top-selling automaker. Given these facts, the auto bailout is one of Obama's successful policies.

Rove also pillories Obama because "his stimulus failed to produce the jobs he pledged." Rove is absolutely right - administration officials predicted that the unemployment rate would top out at 8 percent and fall to 7 percent by 2010 and neither of those predictions were correct. However, the administration erred not because the stimulus was poorly designed, but because the recession was worse than anyone foresaw.

In fact, Obama wanted a more impactful stimulus; however, Republicans in Congress blocked his efforts. Nevertheless, the stimulus that the president enacted was, according to economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi, "very substantial, as it raised GDP by about 3.4 percent, held the unemployment rate about 1.5 percent lower, and added almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. payrolls." Rove has only reported half the truth in an attempt to question Obama and confuse the American people.

Rove then claims the debt has risen more under Obama than under Bush. Again, this is a misleading statistic because we must consider whose policies actually contributed to this debt. One president passed an unfunded tax cut, launched two unfunded wars and enacted an unfunded Prescription Drug Bill. The other president passed a temporary stimulus to save an economy teetering on the brink of depression. One president's policies cost $5.07 trillion, while the other president's initiatives cost $1.44 trillion. Bush contributed more to the national debt and deficit.

Rove, in perhaps the most disgusting portion of the op-ed, attacks Obama's killing of Osama bin Laden as something "virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation." First, how does Rove actually know this? He has never been commander in chief, nor does he intimately know more than one president. What's more, it is quite easy to play armchair quarterback; it is no easy task to order a raid that the majority of your security team advises against and that can result in the death of Americans.

Second, Rove blatantly twisted the words of President Bill Clinton, who was quoted in "The Road We Traveled." In the film, Clinton says: "President Obama took the harder and the more honorable path, and when I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, 'I hope that's the call I would have made.' In other words, Clinton praises the bin Laden decision as gutsy and is unsure if he would have made the same decision.

In his op-ed, however, Rove wrote: "Even President Bill Clinton says in the film 'that's the call I would have made.'" While the Wall Street Journal corrected this error online, the print edition carried Rove's blatant lie. More important than these lies, Rove tries to minimize this decision, when in fact it is unquestionably a singular achievement of which every American should be proud.

In the final analysis, Rove, rather than attacking Obama honestly, resorted to exaggeration, propaganda and spurious facts. He maligned Obama for a stimulus bill that created millions of jobs, for a bailout that saved the auto industry, for a deficit he inherited and for making the immensely difficult decision to kill Osama bin Laden. What Rove and so many others have failed to see is that Obama has actually accomplished a tremendous amount. While he has made his share of errors, Obama has helped the country take small steps toward progress. So, let me be clear: The road we've traveled with Obama has been amazing, and we should continue the journey for four more years.

Neeraj Salhotra is a Sid Richardson College junior.

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