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Obama can be 'apathetic' or a 'dictator,' but he can't be both

Iowa's Joni Ernst is eager to condemn President Obama with two lines of attack. She doesn't realize they contradict each other.
Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Oct. 31, 2014. (Photo by Nati Harnik/AP)
Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Oct. 31, 2014.
Even after six years, President Obama's loudest critics can't quite decide what it is about him they don't like. That wouldn't necessarily be a problem were it not for the fact that so many of their condemnations contradict each other.
The list is likely familiar to regular readers. He's a ruthless Chicago thug and a "wuss." He's sticking to the Bush/Cheney script on national security and he's putting us at risk by abandoning the Bush/Cheney national security agenda. He's cutting cherished entitlement programs like Medicare and he refuses to cut entitlement programs like Medicare. He's waging a class war against the rich and he's coddling millionaires.
But the one contradiction Republicans -- and much of the Beltway media -- find most exciting is the notion that Obama is a bystander, who sits around and watches events pass him by, and a tyrannical activist, who acts unilaterally and tries to seize control of all federal power.
All of which brings us to this amazing report from Ben Terris on Joni Ernst's (R) right-wing U.S. Senate candidacy in Iowa. It was Ernst who famously referred to President Obama as an overzealous "dictator" who is constantly "overstepping his bounds." And now it's Ernst who's convinced Obama is "an apathetic president," reluctant to do any work at all.

After the event, Ernst elaborated without elucidating exactly what she meant. "He is just standing back and letting things happen, he is reactive rather than proactive," she said. "With Ebola, he's been very hands off." "What should he have done about Ebola?" Esquire blogger Charlie Pierce asked her. "One person in America has Ebola." "OK, you're the press, you're giving me your opinion," Ernst said.

Let's stop right there. For one thing, it's not "opinion" that there's one person in America with Ebola. For another, there's simply no sane way to characterize Obama's response to the Ebola threat as "hands off." I realize that Ernst has struggled routinely with the basics of current events, but this is plainly ridiculous.

"But he is the leader, he is the leader of our nation," she said. "So what he can do is make sure that all of these agencies are coordinating together, to make sure he is sharing with the American people he cares about them, he cares about their safety." "You don't think he does?" he said. "I don't know that he does, he hasn't demonstrated that," she said. "You don't think he's demonstrated that he cares about the American people?" he said. "He hasn't," she said.

Yes, we've reached the point at which Obama is a bleeding-heart liberal, who cares too much about people, and a callous brute, indifferent towards people.
As for the White House making sure "all of these agencies are coordinating together," and communicating with the public, that's exactly what the president and his team have been doing for quite a while.
If Ernst doesn't know this, why is she commenting on a major national issue she knows so little about? And if Ernst does know this, why is she saying the opposite of what's true?

[A]sked to reconcile the two thoughts, that she thinks he acts both like a dictator and somebody who doesn't even care enough to act, this is what she said: "That's where he is a leader. So many of the actions that he proposes taking are actions that should be done by Congress. Not by the president. He is our executive. He is our leader. He is our president. Congress should be making the legislative actions."

Oh, I see. Joni Ernst wants Obama to lead more and lead less. She wants him to be more proactive without Congress and more reactive waiting for Congress. She's looking for him to do exactly what he's already done, but Ernst pretends not to notice.
And she apparently thinks the count of Ebola patients is "opinion."
There are lots of low-information voters. Joni Ernst is a rare example of a low-information Senate candidate.