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The Insiders
Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 05/11/2012

2012 campaign gets nastier faster

Revealing incidences in the last couple of weeks disclose the collective thinking and approach of the Obama forces when it comes to the 2012 version of opposition management. They are punishing political enemies and digging up old, odd incidents that can be twisted into outrageous accusations that are impossible to defend.

First, an Environmental Protection Agency administrator had to quit when, in a moment of candor, he revealed that he is not a neutral or even useful public servant, but an assassin of American energy producers, doing what the left's political environmental wing expects of the Obama EPA. The man freely admitted that he would attack and destroy without warning just to set an example and intimidate those who opposed the Obama agenda

Next, today's Wall Street Journal reports on the vicious targeting and intimidation of a successful private businessman and Romney financial backer. He is pursued by professional private investigators looking for dirt after he contributed to a PAC that supports Mitt Romney. Obviously, this is an attempt to make his life miserable as a warning to others who might not support President Obama.

And the week ends with a studious, furrowed-brow look at a few Romney high school pranks that suggest character flaws and even bigotry. The inference the story is designed to promote is that Romney is mean just for fun. The Obama campaign needed this story now, as the "Romney is cruel to puppies" story was losing its punch ever since Obama's past appetite for dog meat was revealed.

Generally, none of this is a surprise. I suggested several days ago that reporters and investigators were living under Romney's bed and out looking for any fourth-grade classmate that might have perceived a playground slight by the GOP nominee. But I'm surprised at how quickly the Obama forces have become engaged in government, in the campaign and in the media scraping the bottom of the barrel to harass and tarnish the president's opponents

The intensity of it all is remarkable. It is only May. Either Obama knows and doesn't care, or he knows and gives silent approval to his team to do what needs to be done. He's in trouble and all is fair.

I guess Obama hasn't evolved very far from the worst of Chicago politics.

In each case the obvious motives behind the attacks and the brute nature of the hatchet jobs are so over-the-top that they diminish the desired effect of the smear. And these incidents make the president's condescending and solemn calls for "civility" a punch line.

Also, you reap what you sow. In 2008, Obama largely escaped the grave-digging and the worst of the opposition research-assisted blows. He was quickly canonized by the left, so it was considered wrong to speak ill of candidate Obama or tolerate those who did; and the right overreached with wacky distractions like the birth certificate delusion.

But 2012 could be different. Oddly, we will probably find out more new information about Obama's past this year than we did four years ago. I already hear that Obama fears a new book by David Maraniss, due to be released on June 19. And in campaigns that practice reciprocal attack-and-counterattack philosophies, the campaign will get nastier much quicker than anyone had planned.

By  |  09:30 AM ET, 05/11/2012

 
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