The Obama re-election campaign has released a 17-minute documentary directed by Oscar-winner Davis Guggenheim, and narrated by Tom Hanks. Unfortunately, it’s more of a mockumentary than a documentary, containing a toxic mix of glowing pap and absolute falsehood.
The film opens with glowing images from the night of Obama’s electoral victory. “What do we remember in November of 2008? Was it this moment?” asks Hanks. “Or this?” The screen shifts from the sunny pictures of a celebratory America to pictures of the New York Stock Exchange – the economy, we are reminded, was bad.
That’s when we hit the key point in the video. “How do we understand this President and his time in office?” asks Hanks. “Do we look at the day’s headlines, or do we remember what we, as a country, have been through?”
And this, in a nutshell, is the Obama strategy. He doesn’t want us to look at how bad things are now, and how they aren’t any better than they were when Obama took office. He doesn’t want us to look at the newspapers. He doesn’t want us to believe our eyes. He wants us to believe him.
The story, according to Obama, is that America sucked wildly when he took over, and sucks slightly less now. In order to prove that case, he has to spend the next 15 minutes twisting the truth.
We learn from campaign manager David Axelrod that Obama assumed power during “an economic crisis beyond anything anybody had imagined.” Well, not really. Everybody knew we were in serious trouble after the September 2008 economic crash. But the Obama administration has to do something to explain why every single economic projection it has ever made has been off by a significant margin.
Austin Goolsbee, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, says that the six months “surrounding January 2009” were the worst months “we ever had in the data.” We do not learn, however, what happened after Obama took office–that would be problematic for the president.
This is when Hanks pipes in with the biggest laugh line of the video: “And when he faced his country, who looked to him for answers, he would not dwell in blame or dreamy idealism … As president, the tough decisions that he would make would not only determine the course of the nation, they’d reveal the character of the man.”
This is patently absurd. Obama has done nothing but blame George W. Bush for all of his problems, including foot fungus, for the last four years. His speeches are a constant combination of high-flown rhetoric (dreamy idealism, you might say) and purposeful falsehoods about his economic plans. This is not a president who took responsibility. This is a president who rammed through legislation, then blamed Bush when everything when wrong.
In fact, we see that in the next minute of the video. A chart is shown of job loss prior to January 2009–and then, for obvious reasons, we never find out how many more jobs were lost under Obama (almost 2 million), and we don’t see the charts of how the economy absolutely tanked and then stagnated.
Instead, all we’re shown is a chart that might as well say: “It’s Bush’s Fault!”
And that theme continues. The video talks about the auto bailout. “There was pressure to act,” Hanks says ominously, trying to find an excuse for the unpopular action. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Obama’s consumer czar and a far-left radical herself, asks, “What happens to the whole Midwest” if Obama doesn’t act? And Bill Clinton shows up for a cameo: “People have no earthly idea what would’ve happened not only to our economy, but to our self image.” There’s even a sideswipe at Mitt Romney at this point, since Romney opposed the bailouts.
But, we learn, Obama “knew who it would hurt the most and how devastating the loss of a job can be to an entire family.” As opposed to the Republicans, who believe that job loss is a fun time for the whole family, apparently. And then Obama does what we thought he never did: he blames Bush. Bush, the video says, gave the car companies $13 billion and the “money was now gone.” But Obama’s bailout was better. How? Says Bill
Clinton: “He didn’t just give the car companies the money. And he didn’t give the UAW the money. He said ‘You guys better work together …”
Well, no. If you’ll recall, the Obama auto bailout was a massive giveaway to the unions, with Obama cramming down actual investors and bondholders in the auto companies in order to appease his union base. People who had been injured in car crashes and won settlements against the car companies lost their ability to recover, while fat cat union bosses gained control over the levers of power. As for Obama’s fabled “modernization” of the car companies, production of the Chevy Volt (Obama’s favorite car) has now been stopped because it had the unfortunate habit of catching on fire. So there’s that.
Finally we get to the centerpiece of the video: healthcare. And here we learn just what a transformational leader Obama has been. “It had been an issue that both parties had struggled with for more than three generations,” says Hanks. But why take it on now, in the midst of the greatest financial crisis in nearly a century? “He knew that he couldn’t fix the economy if he didn’t fix healthcare,” says Hanks.
This is Obama’s line, and it is complete rubbish. If anything, Obamacare has hurt the economy, and it will tank the economy once the costs kick in, as we learned from the Congressional Budget Office this week. Beyond that, how arrogant is that line? Obama can’t personally fix the economy; he can’t personally fix healthcare. But according to Davis Guggenheim, Hanks, and the Obama re-election campaign, he can. So here’s the question: why hasn’t he?
But back to our cloud-cuckoo-land story. Obama, says Hanks, “wanted to bring Washington together to share the tough decisions. But he faced a fierce opposition, hostile to compromise.” This is pure fiction. Obama never wanted to bring Washington together. He held his meetings behind closed doors so that Americans couldn’t see what was going on. He had his lackeys put together a bill so long that nobody knew what was in it when they voted on it. He refused to compromise on basic points. This was no bipartisan effort, and that was Obama’s fault. In the end, Obama got his way, to the nation’s detriment.
Then we shift to foreign policy. This is the most laughable portion of the video. It doesn’t mention Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Honduras, or Israel. It doesn’t deal with the European economic crisis or our debt to China. It mentions precisely two things: the pullout from Iraq and the killing of Osama Bin Laden. And it fictionalizes both of them.
“He had promised to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, and bring the troops home,” says Hanks. “It was a promise kept.”
That’s all we get on Iraq. Nothing about the escalating violence there. Nothing about the fact that Obama’s pullout has emboldened Iran. Just one line. Perfect for a campaign video. But then again, isn’t that what this whole presidency has been about: bromides and one-liners?
From Iraq, we shift into the greatest fiction of all: the “gutsy call” fiction. Pulling out of Iraq, we’re told was “part of his broader plan to refocus our efforts on those that had attacked us.” So apparently, pulling out of Iraq was a prerequisite for killing Bin Laden. Except for the fact that when we killed Bin Laden, we still had tens of thousands of troops in Iraq. Oops.
But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story. “Intelligence reports locating Osama Bin Laden were promising but inconclusive, and there was internal debate as to what the president should do,” says Hanks. Once again, this is nonsense. Contemporaneous accounts state that Obama was given solid information that Bin Laden was in a compound in Pakistan, and that we had a short window to get him. Obama proceeded to dilly-dally for 48 hours before giving the order. This wasn’t a gutsy call. It was a necessary call any president would have made. But it’s played in the documentary as though Obama parachuted down himself and personally capped Bin Laden in the head.
Joe Biden is wheeled out to say that they were told there was a 49 percent chance Bin Laden was there. This is, to say the least, unverified. Then we get some patented Joe Biden dramatics: “As he walked out the room, it dawned on me, he’s all alone. This is his decision. If he was wrong, his Presidency was done. Over.”
No. If he was wrong, we never would have known about it. Playing this as some sort of big decision is a load of bunk. But there’s Bill Clinton again to back Obama up: “He took the harder, and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, ‘I hope that’s the call I would have made.'” It’s fortunate for Obama that his Democratic predecessor was Bill Clinton, perhaps the only man on earth who wouldn’t have made that call.
Hanks sums up: “It was the ultimate test of leadership, a victory for our nation. And there would be many others.” We’re then shown a montage of Obama’s legislative accomplishments. So he killed Bin Laden … and raised the national debt! Victory!
We learn that Obama “placed two experienced jurists on the Supreme Court.” Well, not so much – Elena Kagan had never sat on a bench. But that’s okay.
We learn that “while the economic crisis proved to be more severe than experts had predicted, month by month there was progress. Over 3.5 million private sector jobs in two years and welcome news from Detroit.” Sure, more Americans are out of the workforce than at any time in the last thirty years, but that’s okay. Don’t look at the headlines! Watch this video!
“Time and time again, we would see rewards from tough decisions he had made; not for quick political gain but for long term and enduring change,” says Hanks. “So when we remember this moment and consider this President then and now let’s remember how far we’ve come and look forward to the work still to be done.”
No. Let’s look at his record. Let’s look at what he’s done, and what he will do if given the opportunity to be president for a second term. It isn’t pretty, and no Oscar-winning director and famous actor can make it so.