In a September 9 Forbes cover story that has been praised by Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck, Dinesh D'Souza asserts that President Obama's policies should be understood as a manifestation of his African father's “hatred of the colonial system.” Forbes has said it “stands by the story” and that “no facts are in contention,” but D'Souza's article contains numerous falsehoods and distortions.
Forbes: “No facts are in contention”
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported on September 16 that in response to criticism of the D'Souza article, Forbes issued a statement: “Dinesh D'Souza's cover story was presented as an analysis of how the president thinks. No facts are in contention. Forbes stands by the story.” As Kurtz noted, “some facts are very much in contention.”
CLAIM: Obama “supported the conditional release” of Lockerbie bomber, whom he saw as “an anticolonial resister”
From D'Souza's September 9 Forbes cover story:
Recently the London Times reported that the Obama Administration supported the conditional release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber convicted in connection with the deaths of 270 people, mostly Americans. This was an eye-opener because when Scotland released Megrahi from prison and sent him home to Libya in August 2009, the Obama Administration publicly and appropriately complained. The Times, however, obtained a letter the Obama Administration sent to Scotland a week before the event in which it said that releasing Megrahi on “compassionate grounds” was acceptable as long as he was kept in Scotland and would be “far preferable” to sending him back to Libya. Scottish officials interpreted this to mean that U.S. objections to Megrahi's release were “half-hearted.” They released him to his home country, where he lives today as a free man.
Obama supports the Ground Zero mosque because to him 9/11 is the event that unleashed the American bogey and pushed us into Iraq and Afghanistan. He views some of the Muslims who are fighting against America abroad as resisters of U.S. imperialism. Certainly that is the way the Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi portrayed himself at his trial. Obama's perception of him as an anticolonial resister would explain why he gave tacit approval for this murderer of hundreds of Americans to be released from captivity.
In fact, the Obama administration told Scotland it would not “endorse the early release of Megrahi under any scenario.” The July 25 Sunday Times article to which D'Souza referred noted that the administration supported keeping Megrahi imprisoned, but that in the event he was released, they preferred he stay in Scotland rather than sent back to Libya. From the Sunday Times (accessed via Factiva):
In the letter, sent on August 12 last year to Alex Salmond, the first minister, and justice officials, [deputy head of the London US embassy Richard] LeBaron wrote that the United States wanted Megrahi to remain imprisoned in view of the nature of the crime.
The note added: “Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the US position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.” LeBaron added that freeing the bomber and making him live in Scotland “would mitigate a number of the strong concerns we have expressed with regard to Megrahi's release”.
The US administration lobbied the Scottish government more strongly against sending Megrahi home under a prisoner transfer agreement signed by the British and Libyan governments -- in a deal now known to have been linked to a £550m oil contract for BP.
It claimed this would flout a decade-old agreement reached by the UK and US governments that anyone convicted of the bombing would serve their sentence in a Scottish prison.
Following the publication of the Sunday Times article, the State Department released the full text of the letter, which stated that the “United States is not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail,” but that “if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the U.S. position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.” From the letter:
-- The United States is not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail. We understand that Scottish authorities are ensuring that Megrahi receives quality medical treatment, including palliative care, while incarcerated. The United States maintains its view that in light of the scope of Megrahi's crime, its heinous nature, and its continued and devastating impact on the victims and their families, it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence. This was the understanding and expectation at the time arrangements were made for his trial in Scottish Court in the Netherlands, were he or his confederate to be convicted and their appeals upheld.
-- Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the U.S. position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.
-- If a decision were made by Scotland to grant conditional release, two conditions would be very important to the United States and would partially mitigate the concerns of the American victims' families. First, any such release should only come after the results of independent and comprehensive medical exams clearly establishing that Megrahi's life expectancy is less than three months. The results of these exams should be made available to the United States and the families of the victims of Pan Am 103. The justification of releasing Megrahi on compassionate grounds would be more severely undercut the longer he is free before his actual death.
-- Second, the United States would strongly oppose any release that would permit Megrahi to travel outside of Scotland. We believe that the welcoming reception that Megrahi might receive if he is permitted to travel abroad would be extremely inappropriate given Megrahi's conviction for a heinous crime that continues to have a deep and profound impact on so many. As such, compassionate release or bail should be conditioned on Megrahi remaining in Scotland.
-- Again, while we are not able to endorse the early release of Megrahi under any scenario, we believe that granting compassionate release or bail under the conditions described (i.e. release with a life expectancy or less than three months and with Megrahi remaining in Scotland under supervision) would mitigate a number of the strong concerns that we have expressed with respect to Megrahi's release.
In August, according to the Associated Press, the Obama administration asked that Megrahi “be returned to a Scottish prison.”
CLAIM: Obama supports “oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America”
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike. Consider this headline from the Aug. 18, 2009 issue of the Wall Street Journal: “Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling.” Did you read that correctly? You did. The Administration supports offshore drilling--but drilling off the shores of Brazil. With Obama's backing, the U.S. Export-Import Bank offered $2 billion in loans and guarantees to Brazil's state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance exploration in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro--not so the oil ends up in the U.S. He is funding Brazilian exploration so that the oil can stay in Brazil.
Why support oil drilling off the coast of Brazil but not in America? Obama believes that the West uses a disproportionate share of the world's energy resources, so he wants neocolonial America to have less and the former colonized countries to have more. More broadly, his proposal for carbon taxes has little to do with whether the planet is getting warmer or colder; it is simply a way to penalize, and therefore reduce, America's carbon consumption.
FactCheck.org: Obama “had nothing to do” with the Brazil loan. As FactCheck.org noted in September 2009, the Export-Import Bank of the United States approved a “preliminary commitment” to Brazil to finance “their purchases of U.S. equipment, products and services.” At the time, “the Bank's Board consisted of three Republicans and two Democrats, all of whom were appointed by George W. Bush” and Obama “had nothing to do with the loan.”
Obama proposed expanding offshore drilling in U.S. Despite the temporary moratorium on some deep-water drilling operations imposed in response to the BP oil spill, Obama has proposed expanding offshore drilling, contrary to D'Souza's claim that Obama doesn't support oil drilling “in America.” The Washington Post reported on April 1: “In what could represent the biggest expansion of offshore energy exploration in half a century, Obama announced that he will open the door to drilling off Virginia's coast, in other parts of the mid- and south Atlantic, in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and in waters off Alaska.” Indeed, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in May 18 Senate testimony that the Obama administration's energy plan “would use science and new technologies to expand oil and gas production on the OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] in new areas; provide for exploration in frontier areas; and protect areas that are simply too special to drill.”
CLAIM: Obama spent first 17 years of his life “in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan”
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
These theories aren't wrong so much as they are inadequate. Even if they could account for Obama's domestic policy, they cannot explain his foreign policy. The real problem with Obama is worse -- much worse. But we have been blinded to his real agenda because, across the political spectrum, we all seek to fit him into some version of American history. In the process, we ignore Obama's own history. Here is a man who spent his formative years -- the first 17 years of his life -- off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa.
Obama reportedly visited Pakistan for three weeks when he was 20. ABC's Jake Tapper reported in April 2008 that in 1981, Obama “traveled to Pakistan with a friend from college whose family was from there. The Obama campaign says Obama was in Pakistan for about three weeks, staying with his friend's family in Karachi and also visiting Hyderabad in Southern India.” Kurtz reported that D'Souza “acknowledges” this error. According to CNN, Obama lived in Indonesia for four years.
CLAIM: Obama's oil spill speech “focused not on cleanup strategies,” but on U.S.' outsized oil consumption
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
More strange behavior: Obama's June 15, 2010 speech in response to the Gulf oil spill focused not on cleanup strategies but rather on the fact that Americans “consume more than 20% of the world's oil but have less than 2% of the world's resources.” Obama railed on about “America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels.” What does any of this have to do with the oil spill? Would the calamity have been less of a problem if America consumed a mere 10% of the world's resources?
In fact, Obama discussed federal response to oil spill at length. In his remarks to the nation on the oil spill, Obama addressed at length “what we're doing to clean up the oil, what we're doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we're doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.” Among other things, Obama noted that, at the time, “nearly 30,000 personnel ... are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I've authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast.”
D'Souza also misquoted Obama, alleging that Obama had said that Americans consume “less than 2% of the world's resources,” when in fact Obama said that the United States has “less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves.” The sentence D'Souza highlighted came 1,540 words into the speech, which was the only time Obama mentioned America's oil consumption in relation to its oil reserves. Obama would then go on to discuss his hopes for a “clean energy future.”
Bush also spoke of America's “oil addiction.” Obama is hardly the first political figure to speak of the United States' addiction to oil. For instance, former President George W. Bush addressed the issue in his 2006 State of the Union address:
BUSH: Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world.
The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper and more reliable alternative energy sources. And we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
So tonight I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22 percent increase in clean-energy research at the Department of Energy to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants; revolutionary solar and wind technologies; and clean, safe nuclear energy.
CLAIM: Stimulus failed to reduce unemployment
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
The President continues to push for stimulus even though hundreds of billions of dollars in such funds seem to have done little. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January 2009 was 7.7%; now it is 9.5%. Yet he wants to spend even more and is determined to foist the entire bill on Americans making $250,000 a year or more. The rich, Obama insists, aren't paying their “fair share.” This by itself seems odd given that the top 1% of Americans pay 40% of all federal income taxes; the next 9% of income earners pay another 30%. So the top 10% pays 70% of the taxes; the bottom 40% pays close to nothing. This does indeed seem unfair -- to the rich.
CBO: Unemployment would be as much as 1.8 percentage points higher without the stimulus. A report released in August by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the stimulus lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 and 1.8 percentage points. CBO estimated that the stimulus increased the number of employed people by between 1.4 and 3.3 million.
Private analysts agree that recovery act significantly raised employment. In its fourth quarterly report, the Council of Economic Advisers included figures from private estimates that also credited the recovery act with significantly raising employment over what would have occurred without the stimulus package. The estimates, from IHS/Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers, and Mark Zandi, range from 1.8 to 2.2 million jobs, as of the second quarter of 2010.
CLAIM: NYC Islamic center would be “constructed at Ground Zero”
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
Obama's foreign policy is no less strange. He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center. Obama's rationale, that “our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable,” seems utterly irrelevant to the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero.
Islamic center is two blocks away from ground zero. In the span of two sentences, D'Souza contradicts his statement that the mosque would be “built near” the World Trade Center site by referring to “the issue of why the proposed Cordoba House should be constructed at Ground Zero” [emphasis added]. As a Wall Street Journal map shows, the proposed Islamic community center would be located two blocks away from the site of the 9-11 attacks.
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
A good way to discern what motivates Obama is to ask a simple question: What is his dream? Is it the American dream? Is it Martin Luther King's dream? Or something else?
It is certainly not the American dream as conceived by the founders. They believed the nation was a “new order for the ages.” A half-century later Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of America as creating “a distinct species of mankind.” This is known as American exceptionalism. But when asked at a 2009 press conference whether he believed in this ideal, Obama said no. America, he suggested, is no more unique or exceptional than Britain or Greece or any other country.
In fact, Obama said U.S. is “exceptional” but we need “partnerships” to solve global problems. From the April 4, 2009, news conference:
Q Thank you, Mr. President. In the context of all the multilateral activity that's been going on this week -- the G20, here at NATO -- and your evident enthusiasm for multilateral frameworks, to work through multilateral frameworks, could I ask you whether you subscribe, as many of your predecessors have, to the school of American exceptionalism that sees America as uniquely qualified to lead the world, or do you have a slightly different philosophy? And if so, would you be able to elaborate on it?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don't think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.
And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.
Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we've got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we're not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.
And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can't solve these problems alone.
Obama: “The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known.” From Obama's June 4, 2009, speech in Cairo:
OBAMA: Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words -- within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum -- “Out of many, one.”
Now, much has been made of the fact that an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President. (Applause.) But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores -- and that includes nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today who, by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels that are higher than the American average. (Applause.)
Moreover, freedom in America is indivisible from the freedom to practice one's religion. That is why there is a mosque in every state in our union, and over 1,200 mosques within our borders. That's why the United States government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab and to punish those who would deny it.
CLAIM: Obama sees his father as a “hero” who “represented a great and noble cause”
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.
An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anticolonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen to study in America and then to shape his country's future.
In his own writings Obama stresses the centrality of his father not only to his beliefs and values but to his very identity. He calls his memoir “the record of a personal, interior journey -- a boy's search for his father and through that search a workable meaning for his life as a black American.” And again, “It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself.” Even though his father was absent for virtually all his life, Obama writes, “My father's voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!”
Kurtz: Dreams “offers a largely critical portrait” of Obama's father. Kurtz wrote on September 16:
D'Souza says his thinking about Obama's influences draws heavily from the president's memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” But that book describes a young man's struggle to understand his African roots and the father he never really knew, and offers a largely critical portrait of the Harvard-educated man who left his family.
Weigel: “Everyone else” who read Dreams “saw Obama burning with disappointment in Barack Sr.” In a September 13 review of D'Souza's forthcoming book, Slate.com's David Weigel wrote, “While everyone else read Dreams From My Father and saw Obama burning with disappointment in Barack Sr., D'Souza sees a man burning with 'hatred derived from the debris of the anti-colonial wars.' ”
CJR: Did anyone come away from reading Dreams ... with the idea that Obama thought his father was a hero? I sure didn't." In a September 13 Columbia Journalism Review post, Ryan Chittum called D'Souza's article “a fact-twisting, error-laden piece of paranoia.” The post further stated, “Did anybody come away from reading Dreams From My Father with the idea that Obama thought his father was a hero? I sure didn't.”
Reason's Tim Cavanaugh: Dreams is “a narrative of Obama's non-relationship with his father.” Tim Cavanaugh of Reason wrote on September 12:
Dreams From My Father is in fact a narrative of Obama's non-relationship with his father. The whole point of the book is that the author's paternal heritage is delivered in fragments during brief and usually troubled encounters. While Obama goes on about his father's misfortunes -- many of them clearly self-inflicted -- in Kenya, there is no evidence for the claim that the elder Obama bequeathed his son a coherent or even a partial political philosophy.
D'Souza crops passage from Obama's book to omit portion where he discussed shortcomings of his father. D'Souza quoted a passage from Dreams from My Father in which Obama writes, “My father's voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!” But D'Souza omitted the following paragraph, which states: “Now, as I sat in the glow of a single light bulb, rocking slightly on a hard-backed chair, that image had suddenly vanished. Replaced by...what? A bitter drunk? An abusive husband? A defeated, lonely bureaucrat? To think that all my life I had been wrestling with nothing more than a ghost!”
From Obama's book Dreams from My Father:
All my life, I had carried a single image of my father, one that I had sometimes rebelled against but had never questioned, one that I had later tried to take as my own. The brilliant scholar, the generous friend, the upstanding leader -- my father had been all those things. All those things and more, because except for that one brief visit in Hawaii, he had never been present to foil the image, because I hadn't seen what perhaps most men see at some point in their lives: their father's body shrinking, their father's best hopes dashed, their father's face lined with grief and regret.
Yes, I'd seen weakness in other men -- Gramps and his disappointments, Lolo and his compromise. But these men had become object lessons for me, men I might love but never emulate, white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa, that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela. And if later I saw that the black men I knew -- Frank or Ray or Will or Rafiq -- fell short of such lofty standards; if I had learned to respect these men for the struggles they went through, recognizing them as my own -- my father's voice had nevertheless remained untainted, inspiring, rebuking, granting or withholding approval. You do not work hard enough, Barry. You must help in your people's struggle. Wake up, black man!
Now, as I sat in the glow of a single light bulb, rocking slightly on a hard-backed chair, that image had suddenly vanished. Replaced by...what? A bitter drunk? An abusive husband? A defeated, lonely bureaucrat? To think that all my life I had been wrestling with nothing more than a ghost!
CLAIM: Obama opposes U.S. military action in Afghanistan
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
From the anticolonial perspective, American imperialism is on a rampage. For a while, U.S. power was checked by the Soviet Union, but since the end of the Cold War, America has been the sole superpower. Moreover, 9/11 provided the occasion for America to invade and occupy two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, and also to seek political and economic domination in the same way the French and the British empires once did. So in the anticolonial view, America is now the rogue elephant that subjugates and tramples the people of the world.
Obama supports the Ground Zero mosque because to him 9/11 is the event that unleashed the American bogey and pushed us into Iraq and Afghanistan. He views some of the Muslims who are fighting against America abroad as resisters of U.S. imperialism.
In fact, Obama supported the Afghanistan intervention as being an “absolutely vital” response to 9-11. According to an October 17, 2001, Chicago Defender report (accessed via Nexis), Obama, then an Illinois state senator, spoke of the military intervention in Afghanistan in response to 9-11. He said: “We're engaged in a military operation. I don't know how effective that operation is, but it's absolutely vital that we pursue a military response and a criminal investigation to dismantle these organizations of violence that have cropped up.”
As president, Obama has increased troop levels there. Obama has twice increased the troop levels in Afghanistan, culminating in a December 2009 decision to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to the country. In his speech announcing the decision to deploy more troops, Obama also stated that “our security is at stake in Afghanistan”:
OBAMA: So, no, I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.
Obama has also stepped up air strikes against Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The New York Times reported in December 2009 that the “White House has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.'s drone program in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, officials said this week, to parallel the president's decision, announced Tuesday, to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan." The report further stated:
Yet with few other tools to use against Al Qaeda, the drone program has enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and was escalated by the Obama administration in January. More C.I.A. drone attacks have been conducted under President Obama than under President George W. Bush. The political consensus in support of the drone program, its antiseptic, high-tech appeal and its secrecy have obscured just how radical it is. For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war.
In April, the Times further reported: “While unpopular among the Pakistani public, the drone strikes have become a weapon of choice for the Obama administration after the Pakistani Army rebuffed pleas to mount a ground offensive in North Waziristan to take on the militants who use the area to strike at American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.” As Media Matters has noted, airstrikes in Pakistan and Yemen have reportedly killed numerous Al Qaeda officials.
CLAIM: Obama views “free market” as “code words for economic plunder”
From D'Souza's Forbes article:
[Obama] adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.
In fact, Obama has repeatedly praised the “free market.” For example:
- Obama: “I want business in this country to succeed. ... [T]he free market is the greatest wealth producer in our history.” From an August 18 speech:
OBAMA: And by the way -- let me make this point -- I want business in this country to succeed. (Applause.) The free market -- the free market is the greatest wealth producer in our history. We were built on entrepreneurship and private enterprise. And if you are a responsible business owner, I will do everything I can to help you grow and prosper and hire more employees. And Ted Strickland will do the same. But I don't think it's anti-business to say we should make sure an oil rig is safe before we start drilling. (Applause.) I don't think it's anti-business to say that Wall Street banks should play by the same rules as everybody else. I don't think it's anti-business to say that insurance companies shouldn't deny people care just because they get sick.
- Obama: "[O]ur ultimate success" will depend on the American worker, American businesses, “and the power of our free market system.” From an August 9 speech:
OBAMA: Now, when it comes to the economy, I said that in today's world we're being pushed as never before. From Beijing to Bangalore, from Seoul to San Paolo, new industries and innovations are flourishing. Our competition is growing fiercer. And while our ultimate success has and always will depend on the incredible industriousness of the American worker and the ingenuity of American businesses and the power of our free market system, we also know that as a nation, we've got to pull together and do some fundamental shifts in how we've been operating to make sure America remains number one.
- Obama: “I believe in the power of the free market.” From an April 22 speech:
OBAMA: As I said on this stage two years ago, I believe in the power of the free market. I believe in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital and get loans and invest their savings. That's part of what has made America what it is. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That's what happened too often in the years leading up to this crisis. Some -- and let me be clear, not all -- but some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged there's family looking to buy a house, or pay for an education, open a business, save for retirement. What happens on Wall Street has real consequences across the country, across our economy.
- Obama in 2008: The “free market ... has been the engine of America's progress.” From a March 27, 2008, speech:
OBAMA: Throughout this saga, Americans have pursued their dreams within a free market that has been the engine of America's progress. It's a market that's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world, and opportunity for generations of Americans; a market that has provided great rewards to innovators and risk-takers who've made America a beacon for science and technology and discovery.
But the American experiment has worked in large part because we guided the market's invisible hand with a higher principle. A free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That's why we've put in place rules of the road: to make competition fair and open, and honest.