Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Nasty Campaign

If you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. - Barack Obama, 2008

Mr. Obama was right about this and in the next several months we are going to see his reelection campaign attack every aspect of Mitt Romney. The problem with a negative campaign is that sometimes it backfires. Yesterday Hilary Rosen complained that Ann Romney "had never worked a day in her life." Attacking a candidate's wife is always a bad idea. The Romney campaign immediately pounced on Rosen's remark. Rosen tried to explain herself but there is no getting around the fact that she denounced stay-at-home mothers.

For Rosen, this was a natural mistake. A successful professional woman and a liberal, she probably doesn't even know any stay-at-home mothers. It has been a central point of the feminists that a woman only fulfills herself through work.

Not all of the country shares this attitude so her attack on Ann Romney hurt the Obama campaign.

So far the Obama campaign has yet to come up with anything positive. The President has attacked the Republican budget as "social Darwinism" and made fun of Romney using the word "marvelous". Obama's current gimmick is the Buffett Rule which would raise taxes on millionaires. He even admits that this is a gimmick but it is still the centerpiece of his campaign. Vice-President Biden went a step further suggesting that it be renamed the Romney Rule although he didn't give a reason.

The main positive achievement that the President is running on is a small increase in domestic oil production. The problem there is that he had nothing to do with it. Oil production on public lands has been flat. It is oil production on private lands that is up.

A president with a strong record can sail to reelection, ignoring his opponent and acting as if it is inevitable that he will win. That is how Clinton handled his reelection in 1996. Reagan had an even stronger record to run on and crushed Mondale in 1984 with a 49-state win.

On the other hand, Obama's principle achievement, Obamacare, is deeply disliked and in danger of being declared unconstitutional. He did get us out of Iraq, but he did it on George W. Bush's schedule. The troops are scheduled to pull out of Afghanistan but that country could fall apart immediately after and even if it doesn't, presidents are seldom reelected based on their war records (just ask George H. W. Bush).

So Team Obama will try to pounce on every aspect that they can. It was inevitable that they would try to attack his wife. She is well-thought of, just as Michelle Obama is more popular than her husband. But, Ann Romney not only raised five kids, she is also a cancer survivor and suffers from multiple-sclerosis. Attacking her is a bit like kicking a puppy.

Expect the attacks to get nastier and more personal.

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