Smoke and Mirrors on the Campaign Trail


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In his April 18th column for RealClearPolitics, Senior Elections Analyst Sean Trende notes that the upcoming presidential elections between the incumbent, Democratic President Barack Obama, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, will be, as usual, “a referendum on the party in power.” That is, President Obama will be running, whether he wants to or not (and he clearly doesn’t), on his performance record.

Considering Mr. Obama’s poor presidential performance, particularly in the key area of the economy, he will have a difficult time selling his self-trumped-up success in turning around the economy since the great crash in September 2008 – the very crash that leveraged him into the White House (“everything is Bush’s fault”) – no matter what is written on his cue cards.

Without a doubt, Team Obama agrees, and their strategy is a combination of Mr. Obama running as if he isn’t the incumbent (“everything is always someone else’s fault” – President Bush, Congress, the Republican majority in the House, anybody and everybody who isn’t Barack Obama), and at the same time, trying to impugn the good name and record of his Republican challenger, Mr. Romney, so the voters will prefer Mr. Obama by comparison.

This explains the Bain Capital ads and other similar attacks. But, like everything else Team Obama has tried in the last two months, this strategy seems to have backfired. Even Obama supporter Newark Mayor Cory Booker, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this past Sunday, said, “I have to just say from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity. To me, it’s just, we’re getting to a ridiculous point in America. Especially,” declared Mayor Booker, a Democrat, “that I know I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people invest in companies like Bain Capital. If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses.”

Pronouncing “this kind of stuff” to be “nauseating to me…[and] to the American public,” Mayor Booker put it succinctly. “It undermines…what this country should be focused on. It’s a distraction from the real issues.”

Of course, what the Newark mayor doesn’t realize is that creating a “distraction from the real issues” is what it is all about. Such ad campaigns are not by accident. Team Obama is deliberately trying every trick in their campaign book to divert attention from the president’s record in office by throwing irrelevant matters in the face of the electorate – who they condescendingly believe are too stupid to realize what they are doing – and squeak first past the finish line come November.

It is the task of Mr. Romney and his campaign team to keep the focus of the public on the real issues. To hammer away at Mr. Obama’s failures, and in essence, to force the mainstream media to do their job and not be so easily sidetracked by smoke and mirrors. Mr. Romney has to repeat and repeat, again and again, his own clear vision for handling the critical issues facing the American people. By doing so, it will not only push the media to focus accordingly, it will also force Team Obama to have to try and explain away the incumbent’s flip-flops, outright lies, and his administration’s failed domestic and foreign policies.

Since the primary concern of all Americans is the economy, it should be noted that Mr. Obama has, as one pundit put it, “been missing in action with respect to confronting the skyrocketing national debt.” He appointed a bipartisan commission to propose solutions to the looming budgetary crisis, and then summarily ignored its recommendations. Even in his first two years in office, when his own party dominated both houses of Congress, he failed to get Congree to pass a budget, and now, although the Republicans control the House, Mr. Obama’s proposed budget was still rejected 0 to 99 by the Senate, even with its Democratic majority.

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  • davarino

    I hope he doenst pull a McCain and try to nice himself into the Oval Office. There is so much ammo there that no one will fault him for using it, even some dems.

    • DMW

      And hopefully there are enough who still or will think in terms of "we", "our", and "us" and still believe in legitimate pursuit of one's own individual happiness — instead of "I" and "mine" with a government that seeks to satisfy "me" through equalization of stuff.

  • StephenD

    “A sitting president of the United States, seeking reelection, can’t lay out a plan that will gain a single vote in the House or Senate for the financial future of America. It speaks volumes.”

    His own Democrat controlled Senate wouldn't pass a budget and didn't cast one vote for his.

    If it wasn't so foreboding for our future I'd be laughing my ass off!

    He is an embarrassment for America and Romney ought to have the nuggets to point this out.

  • BLJ

    Obama couldn't balance a checkbook if his worthless life depended on it.

    I think Romney will stay focused and make the Dear Leader run on his record. He will not pull a McCain.