The Rule Book for Criticizing Obama

Peggy Shapiro
Barack Obama needs to issue a rule book for exactly what criticism opponents are allowed to make.

Rule 1  Don't criticize family no matter who they are or what they do.

Although his wife Michelle is an active member of his campaign and a virulent critic of other candidates, she must not be made an issue in the election.  "The GOP, should I be the nominee, can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record," Obama said. "If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable, the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family." To criticize Michelle is not part of the normal political fray, but a violation of the sanctity of family. Michelle Obama has immunity from condemnation and free reign to denigrate the country and Obama's opponents.

Rule 2  Don't criticize any policy that the candidate might have even if he is not mentioned by name.

The opposition must not challenge Obama's plan to meet face-to-face with state sponsors of terror, even if the challenge does not mention the Senator by name. A Democratic firestorm broke out when President Bush told an Israeli Knesset audience that negotiating with Iran's President, who has repeatedly committed himself to the destruction of Israel, is the false comfort of appeasement. Obama, whose policy is just that sort of false comfort, attacked the speech as "a false political attack" 
launched on foreign soil. Although Democrats have been critical of the U.S. on foreign soil (Obama's recently dismissed foreign policy advisor Samantha Power is just the first that comes to mind.), partisan politics past our shores is not protocol.

Rule 3  Don't imply that Obama's stunning rise to power was the result of anything less than divine intervention.

As Bill Clinton discovered, referring to Obama's unprecedented rise from an undistinguished state senator, with a short stop in the U.S. Senate, to candidate for the most powerful position in the world was "a fairytale." Of course, Clinton did not imply that Obama conjured magical powers, but that unusual circumstances were in play. The "fairytale" remark was distorted and regurgitated as a play of the "race card." There is no more damning or frightening epithet than to be called a racist. 

Rule 4  Don't examine any of Obama's anti-American, racist, terrorist, or criminal associates.
It's out of bounds to criticize a public member of his campaign in a key foreign policy position. Criticism of Obama's associations with Reverend Wright, domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko are characterized as "witch hunt" and "guilt by association."  The critic is stained by association with two of America's darkest periods in history: the hysterical unfairness of America's Salem Trials and Joe McCarthy's prosecution of Americans for their "suspected" associations with Communists.

So let's clarify the rules for the general election so that Republicans are not labeled as destroyers of families, indecent purveyors of false attacks, racists, or McCarthyites. Don't make negative mention of Obama's wife, his policies, his inexperience, or his associations.

What's left? The GOP had better contact the Obama campaign to issue a list of permissible topics.
Barack Obama needs to issue a rule book for exactly what criticism opponents are allowed to make.

Rule 1  Don't criticize family no matter who they are or what they do.

Although his wife Michelle is an active member of his campaign and a virulent critic of other candidates, she must not be made an issue in the election.  "The GOP, should I be the nominee, can say whatever they want to say about me, my track record," Obama said. "If they think that they're going to try to make Michelle an issue in this campaign, they should be careful because that I find unacceptable, the notion that you start attacking my wife or my family." To criticize Michelle is not part of the normal political fray, but a violation of the sanctity of family. Michelle Obama has immunity from condemnation and free reign to denigrate the country and Obama's opponents.

Rule 2  Don't criticize any policy that the candidate might have even if he is not mentioned by name.

The opposition must not challenge Obama's plan to meet face-to-face with state sponsors of terror, even if the challenge does not mention the Senator by name. A Democratic firestorm broke out when President Bush told an Israeli Knesset audience that negotiating with Iran's President, who has repeatedly committed himself to the destruction of Israel, is the false comfort of appeasement. Obama, whose policy is just that sort of false comfort, attacked the speech as "a false political attack" 
launched on foreign soil. Although Democrats have been critical of the U.S. on foreign soil (Obama's recently dismissed foreign policy advisor Samantha Power is just the first that comes to mind.), partisan politics past our shores is not protocol.

Rule 3  Don't imply that Obama's stunning rise to power was the result of anything less than divine intervention.

As Bill Clinton discovered, referring to Obama's unprecedented rise from an undistinguished state senator, with a short stop in the U.S. Senate, to candidate for the most powerful position in the world was "a fairytale." Of course, Clinton did not imply that Obama conjured magical powers, but that unusual circumstances were in play. The "fairytale" remark was distorted and regurgitated as a play of the "race card." There is no more damning or frightening epithet than to be called a racist. 

Rule 4  Don't examine any of Obama's anti-American, racist, terrorist, or criminal associates.
It's out of bounds to criticize a public member of his campaign in a key foreign policy position. Criticism of Obama's associations with Reverend Wright, domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and indicted influence peddler Tony Rezko are characterized as "witch hunt" and "guilt by association."  The critic is stained by association with two of America's darkest periods in history: the hysterical unfairness of America's Salem Trials and Joe McCarthy's prosecution of Americans for their "suspected" associations with Communists.

So let's clarify the rules for the general election so that Republicans are not labeled as destroyers of families, indecent purveyors of false attacks, racists, or McCarthyites. Don't make negative mention of Obama's wife, his policies, his inexperience, or his associations.

What's left? The GOP had better contact the Obama campaign to issue a list of permissible topics.