President Obama's re-election campaign has launched a website called "Attack Watch" to "fight smears" and criticisms from Republicans. The site offers Obama supporters an efficient way to "report an attack," and promises that "when another unfounded attack surfaces, we'll arm you with the truth." Conservative bloggers have mocked the site, saying it makes Obama look like "a creepy authoritarian nut job." Is Attack Watch a sign of paranoia, or just a smart way to spot campaign attacks and nip them in the bud?
Obama is being paranoid and scary: This is positively Nixonian, says Seth Mandel at Commentary, except that Richard Nixon had the political instinct to hide his Enemies List. "Obama is openly promoting a program to 'report' on private citizens." It might have been OK back in 2008 when, as a senator running for the White House, Obama mounted a similar online effort called "Fight the Smears," but presidents should rise above such inappropriate antics. Attack Watch helps validate the GOP complaint that government is "too meddlesome."
"Obama to supporters: 'Report my critics'"
But Republicans really are out to smear Obama: This is rich, says Media Matters for America. Right-wing bloggers spend years relentlessly smearing Obama, "pushing the claim that he was not born in the United States, claiming he was educated in a madrassa, attacking his faith, and claiming the administration committed federal crimes." And now they're calling him paranoid for concocting a way to fight back? Who's the silly one, again?
"After years of smearing Obama, right-wing media mock Obama for anti-smear site"
And candidates have to counter rumors somehow: Attack Watch isn't paranoid — it's "just politics," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. It would be silly for Obama to respond personally to "every stupid rumor" that appears online. The internet has a way of feeding bogus attacks — I'm looking at you, Birthers — and "investing a few campaign resources... to bat those rumors down is a good idea."
"Attack Watch: It's just politics, folks"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- What political elites don't understand about Scotland's push for independence
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Is 'feminism' just another word for 'liberalism'?
- The U.S. dollar has been strengthening for 3 straight years! (That's not good news.)
- Obama knows he can't really 'defeat' ISIS. Americans need to wake up to that reality, too.
Subscribe to the Week