Obama Learns to Punch Back

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


It’s entirely legitimate to wonder if Barack Obama’s lack of Washington experience would keep him from effectively working the levers of power as president. It’s legitimate to wonder if he would be able to create and pass major policy proposals, or handle international incidents with the right touch. But it is looking less and less legitimate to question whether his lack of Washington experience will keep him from successfully executing the political jujitsu of the general election.

Hillary Clinton has been hammering Obama with attacks of late: on the fact that Karl Rove is giving him (unsolicited) advice, on his health care plan, and on his claims that he is not running for president to fulfill long-held ambition.

And Obama has expertly fought back. His campaign has started a “Hillary Attacks” website that points out that Clinton said “I’m not interested in attacking my opponents” just days before her offensive against Obama began. The campaign has also set up a “Factcheck” website that gives the Obama side of things in rapid fashion. There are also extremely thorough pages devoted to debunking the most persistent rumors about Obama.

Admittedly, the Republican smear machine will hit Obama harder (and with dirtier material) than the Clinton camp has. But the possibility of a Swift Boat attack that goes uncontested and eventually sinks the Obama campaign is looking more like a Republican fantasy and less like a realistic possibility.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest