By Dave Andrusko
Either their bad consciences have stricken them or they awakened to a self-evident truth, but all of a sudden we are reading stories that remind us that President Barack Obama is about to engage in the same kind of campaign he’s utilized in the past: “Go negative, stay clean,” as the headline to a story by Ben Smith that appeared in POLITICO this week.
The stories take as their starting point that Obama’s campaign has taken a sledge hammer to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, assuming that will be the Republican Party’s nominee.
So, as Smith puts it, as the President’s team cranks up the assaults
“Obama faces one of the most difficult tests of his political career: to tear down Romney without getting a single smudge of dirt on his own shirtfront — a trick he has performed deftly in previous races.”
Pardon? Mr. Common Ground himself, the guy who promised to bring a “new politics” to Washington? Smith continues
“The early salvos are also familiar moves in a strategy that has worked in each of the four federal campaigns Obama has run: disqualifying character attacks from aides or outsiders, executed brutally as Obama himself floats above the fray.”
Smith elaborates on Obama’s “slash and burn” history:
“And while George Washington may be the last successful American politician to win the White House without going sharply negative, few have managed to attack with the stealth Obama has displayed, leaving in his wake bitter rivals who felt their complaints of foul play were falling on deaf ears as Obama moved forward not just as victor, but as avatar of a new politics of hope.
“’David Axelrod has always been skillful at creeping into your room in the middle of the night and slicing out your heart, somehow without leaving behind a single fingerprint or drop of blood that ties him or his candidate to the crime,’ said Obama biographer David Mendell of Obama’s top political aide.”
Earlier this week, Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, a reliably pro-abortion celebrant of Obama, began her column with this:
“Forget hope and change. President Obama’s reelection campaign is going to be based on fear and loathing: fear of what a Republican takeover would mean, and loathing of whomever the Republican nominee turns out to be.
“Of course the Obama campaign will attempt to present the affirmative case for his reelection, citing legislative achievements, foreign policy successes and the current flurry of executive actions. But his strategists have clearly concluded that selling the president will not be enough, and the contours of the ugly months ahead are becoming increasingly apparent.”
To return to Smith by way of conclusion, the level of cynicism and breathtaking nonchalance at Obama’s race to the bottom is captured in this explanation of why the Obama campaign thinks it can get away with this:
“And the White House is betting that Obama’s brand is, at this point, fixed, and immune from the usual blowback of negative campaigning.
“’The folks for whom it is more dangerous to go negative are on the GOP side, where people have very little information about whomever the nominee is,’ said a top party figure. “People aren’t suddenly going to think Obama is a negative [expletive]. They know him and know he isn’t.”
They “know that he isn’t” because the media has allowed him to get away with it. Will that hold through for another year?
(See also “Obama and the Swing States: By the Numbers.”)
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