Richard Miniter Is A Lazy Liar: Lame-Duck Edition

Yesterday I laid out how Richard Miniter, author of the new anti-Obama book Leading From Behind, mixes up dates to allege that President Obama was slow to act on intelligence regarding Osama bin Laden's whereabouts. Today we'll look at how Miniter lies about the president's legislative successes during the 2010 lame-duck session, claiming that Obama's agenda for that period (the vast majority of which was approved) failed in Congress.

On pages 84-85, Miniter writes about the aftermath of the 2010 midterm elections and faults Obama for presenting an “ambitious” and “unrealistic” legislative agenda for the lame-duck session. Miniter says Obama's “timing and strategy were ill-considered” and that his legislative proposals were “dead on arrival” with the “exhausted” Congress:

Obama seemed strangely upbeat. The day after the midterm elections, the president convened a meeting with his senior staff.

While they saw clouds, he saw the sun through them. Democrats still ran both houses of Congress until January 3, 2011, when the new session convened. To the surprise of some staffers present, he enumerated an ambitious list of measures that he would like to see made law in the next sixty days: “a tax deal, extending unemployment benefits, ratification of New START treaty reducing nuclear arms, repeal of the Pentagon's Don't Ask/Don't Tell policy preventing gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military, passage of the DREAM Act (which would grant citizenship to undocumented young adults who met certain requirements), and a children's nutrition bill advocated by Michelle Obama.”

The list was unrealistic. It would have been a demanding agenda for Congress to accomplish over two years, let alone two months.


Still, Obama was keen to proceed as planned. He was finally going to lead, but the timing and strategy were ill-considered.

“Obama didn't care about the criticism that he was too insular,” a White House aide said. “He didn't give a shit.”

Obama's proposals were dutifully sent to Capitol Hill, but most were essentially dead on arrival. Congress was exhausted and didn't want to take any more political risks.

Here's every item Miniter listed on Obama's “dead on arrival agenda,” and their respective fates in the lame-duck session:

The tax deal: Passed and signed into law.

The unemployment extension: Passed and signed into law.

New START: Ratified by the Senate.

DADT repeal: Passed and signed into law.

DREAM Act: Failed.

Child nutrition bill: Passed and signed into law.

Other successes Miniter didn't mention: the passage of a food safety bill and a bill providing benefits to 9-11 first responders. All those passed bills explain why pundits and reporters referred to the lame-duck session as being full of "unexpected victories" and "the most productive lame duck since WWII -- and maybe ever."

Miniter didn't just ignore the unprecedented legislative success of the 2010 lame duck session -- he said president's legislative agenda failed due to his poor leadership skills. It's a bizarre allegation, not just for its utter lack of truth but for how very easily disprovable it is. I mean, if you're going to lie, at least put some effort into it.