Liberals and conservatives appear taken aback by how blatant the Obama campaign has been in their intention to make the 2012 general election race as ugly, and devoid of discussion on the president's first term record as possible. In a lengthy write-up for June's New York Magazine, "Game Change" co-author John Heilemann writes that the campaign team once known for "hope" and "change" in 2008, plans to bring you fear in 2012:
But if the Obama 2012 strategy in this regard is all about the amplification of 2008, in terms of message it will represent a striking deviation. Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago—running more negative ads than any campaign in history—what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”
The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”
It comes as no surprise that the Obama reelection campaign plans to continue with a "divide and conquer" strategy pitting Americans of different ethnic groups, socioeconomic status, gender and age, against one another through the summer up until the general election. The president has no record to run on and the "Post-partisan Obama" died long before the GOP primary race heated up.
What is somewhat shocking is how shameless the Obama campaign team is in showing their devious hand. Throughout Heilemann's article campaign aides are quoted proudly admitting what has been their strategy of stirring the pot during the GOP primary through the general election this November, using hyperbolic attacks against Romney--"freezing him like a bug in amber at the end of the dinosaur era”-- while giving absolutely no reason why their candidate deserves to be reelected after his first term performance, or what he plans to do if given a second term.
The Hill indirectly highlights the emptiness in the Obama campaign's second term plans in an article this morning reporting on Chicago's difficulties in finding a slogan that sticks.:
Obama formally launched his campaign this month with the message of “Forward,” but one senior Democratic Party official told The Hill that people who thought that would be the campaign’s lasting official slogan should “stay tuned.”
Obama at various times over the past year has taken “Winning the Future,” “A Fair Shot,” “An America Built to Last” and “We Can’t Wait” for test drives, but none has found lasting traction. Vice President Biden has suggested one possible bumper-sticker slogan: “GM’s alive; bin Laden’s dead.”
Obama faces difficulties on several fronts in trying to devise a new message.
The nation’s continuing economic troubles make it virtually impossible to run on a message as unambiguously optimistic as President Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” ad.
More broadly, the mere fact that Obama now has a record of both achievements and disappointments makes him less of a blank canvas onto which voters can project their own desires.
“Forward” dominates Obama’s headquarters and the merchandise — and Democrats insist it will be the primary slogan during the campaign, even if it is augmented.
The "Forward" slogan falls short for it highlights the two challenges to President Obama's claim that he deserves another four years. It acknowledges that he has not fulfilled the promises at the onset of his first term, and needs more time. And it is broad without hints to policy, possibly because the campaign is afraid to admit to independents what their plans are for a second term, or simply because they still don't have any.
Heilemann joined the Morning Joe panel Tuesday to discuss "the fact" that the president is going to run a very negative reelection campaign: