Finally, it’s Obama’s turn

His campaign calls out Mitt Romney by name, and with that the general election campaign is underway

Topics: Opening Shot,

Finally, it’s Obama’s turnPresident Barack Obama gestures during his joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Monday, April 2, 2012, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Credit: AP)

Mitt Romney’s effort to make Republicans acknowledge his inevitability and treat him as their presidential nominee is getting a boost from President Obama, who has in the past few days begun acting as if the general election campaign is already underway.

On Monday, the president’s campaign unveiled an ad that attacks Romney by name for the first time, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of doing Big Oil’s bidding. The message is being supplemented by a second ad introduced on Monday, this one from the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, that conveys the same message.

Also on Monday, Obama responded publicly to Romney’s claims that Obama isn’t committed to “American exceptionalism.” This was a departure from Obama’s Super Tuesday press conference, when he passed on a chance to rebut a foreign policy attack from Romney and simply wished him “good luck.”

This came a few days after Obama filmed a video message for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, positioning himself as a defender of vital women’s health programs and deriding “professional politicians” who “casually say they’ll ‘get rid of Planned Parenthood.” This, of course, was a direct reference to Romney, who promised a Republican audience last month, “Planned Parenthood – we’re going to get rid of that.” And today, Obama is set to deliver a speech criticizing the Paul Ryan-drafted budget plan that Republicans, including Romney, had rallied around.

All of this maneuvering is significant for two reasons. For one, it confirms that Obama and his team believe the suspenseful phase of the GOP nominating process is over. There’s no more hoping for a triumphant Santorum charge or a brokered convention in the White House. It also offers a valuable, if not comprehensive, window into what the Obama campaign sees as its general election imperatives, and how it plans to tackle them:

Non-coordination coordination: The new Obama ad is designed to respond to an attack spot from a pro-Romney group. So is the new ad from Priorities USA. Without the disclaimer at the end of each spot, it would be impossible to know which one was funded by Obama’s campaign and which was funded by an “independent” outfit. This is the absurd reality of super PAC politics. The Romney forces showed early in the primary season that they are comfortable exploiting it, and now Obama’s side has done the same.

Gas prices: Especially with the unemployment rate falling, Republicans are trying fiercely to pin the astronomical cost of fuel on Obama. The new Obama ads show how sensitive his team is to these attacks, and how intent they are on directing the public’s anger toward giant oil companies and their defenders. The ads are best viewed as an extension of Obama’s high-profile push last week to get Congress to end subsidies for the industry.

The Ryan albatross: It’s hardly shocking but still noteworthy that Obama is going to deliver a speech attacking Ryan’s budget, which would alter the basic nature of Medicare, slash tax rates disproportionately for the wealthy, and expose social safety net programs to potentially deep cuts. Just about every Republican in the House has signed off on it and Romney has no choice but to go along with it too. Running against the Ryan plan offers Obama a chance to recycle part of Bill Clinton’s successful 1996 playbook, when he presented himself as the last line of defense between a GOP Congress and the safety net.

Women: The GOP’s overheated posturing on contraception and reproductive issues gives Obama a chance to widen the traditional gender gap, especially with younger women. The newest polling data shows a significant drop in female support for Romney in the past six weeks, a trend Obama clearly wants to reinforce.

Rose Garden strategy: The GOP caricature holds that Obama is the second coming of Jimmy Carter – a weak, indecisive and apologetic commander in chief who is routinely pushed around on the world stage. That was the essence of the “American exceptionalism” attack from Romney that Obama responded to on Monday. What was most effective about Obama’s rebuttal, though, wasn’t its content; it was the setting: a Rose Garden appearance with two foreign leaders, Mexico’s Felipe Calderón and Canada’s Stephen Harper, who vouched for Obama when the subject of Romney’s attack was raised:

“We had under your leadership, Barack, that successful intervention in Libya. Our trade relationship is the biggest in the world and growing.  And so I think it’s been a tremendous partnership,” he said.

Nothing quite illustrates the absurdity of the right’s attacks on Obama’s foreign policy like the spectacle of the prime minister of one of America’s closest allies (and the leader of its Conservative Party) pointing to one of his signature foreign policy achievements and praising his global leadership.

Steve Kornacki

Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornacki

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>