Friday, May 25, 2012

Into the fray

The Obama campaign has already started taking the gloves off for the fall campaign, and the forces of decorum in the media seem a little taken aback. The New York Times, for example, published a story today remarking on how President Obama has tossed aside convention by getting directly involved in attacks on his opponent, instead of leaving such base politicking to his vice-president or campaign spokesmen as previous incumbent presidents have done. He even refers to his opponent by name. (The horror!)

Of course you would think that only those with the president's best interests at heart (staunch supporters like myself) would question the wisdom of the president getting off his "presidential" pedestal and into the mud with his opponent, if there were reason to think that such a strategy would "diminish" the office, or make the president look like just another challenger. But that is not what is happening. Rather the article itself makes clear exactly who is planting the idea that it is somehow undignified for the president to be slugging it out with his opponent. (In May! He's not even waiting until the summer!) Here is what the Times article reveals:

But some veterans of past campaigns, particularly Republicans, questioned whether it would take some of the sheen off Mr. Obama’s stature as president. Rather than appearing above the fray, Mr. Obama may look like just another officeseeker.
Note how it is particularly Republicans who question the president's strategy, and then the article goes on to quote an adviser to George W. Bush during his 2004 campaign against Senator Kerry. That tells me all I need to know. Republicans are worrying about whether President Obama is taking the sheen off his stature? Not very likely. They would be only too happy if Obama were de-sheening his stature. The only reason Republican strategists would complain about President Obama's strategy is if they are worried that it is working. They would much prefer to have Mitt Romney sling mud and lies at President Obama week after week, while President Obama ignores those attacks because he has to preserve the dignity of his office, instead of calling them what they are. Their hand-wringing must be meant to sow the seeds of doubt among Obama supporters. (Oh woe is us! Is our guy in danger of seeming less presidential? What do we do now?)

So let us just say, thanks for all your advice, Republican strategists. Obama supporters should not pay them much heed. Let's just enjoy watching President Obama do what he does best, continuing to hit the Romney campaign fairly and squarely with everything we've got. I trust the campaign to know what is working.


  1. One of the reasons a President might personally hold off on rhetoric this early in the fight is that WaPo and people like Kessler might start fact checking them. A President might want to avoid three Pinocchios this early.

  2. That's the last thing the campaign is worried about. The president has no reason to tell lies about Romney. He just needs to counter all the lies Romney is telling about him, and tell the truth about Romney. That's why he is out of the gate early.