The Obama campaign plan to defeat Mitt Romney using fear and distraction has been interrupted by fear and distraction. Nothing about the economic news over the last couple of weeks produced anything other than more economic anxiety in America. It looks like scary low growth and anemic job creation will be what President Obama is explaining in the fall. And all of the recent distractions have been on Obama’s side of the ledger — the notion that stay-at-home moms don’t work, Bill Maher pouring fuel on flames, hookers in Cartagena, and the growing GSA scandal that appears to be settling in for a long stay.
All of these political bee stings hit Obama at a time when the Romney campaign would be naturally vulnerable. There is a big appetite to write and talk about the head-to-head contest, and the Romney campaign isn’t ready yet. But Romney has been relatively mistake-free during the transition from GOP hopeful to the GOP nominee. The absence of mistakes is a combination of good discipline and good luck. All the distractions from within the Obama administration have bought Romney some time and kept his post-primary honeymoon alive while he finds his legs.
None of this, of course, is the result of a campaign strategy from either campaign. Much of what shapes a campaign are the unknown, unanticipated events and stray words that were never part of the carefully crafted campaign plans. There is no way a campaign can plan for the unknown unknowns. And when you’re the leader of the United States government, a lot can happen on your watch that you didn't plan for, but you get the blame for — or, at the least, your White House has to explain the mistakes and therefore become more associated with the unflattering episodes than you would like. And with just over six months to go before the election, when you’re explaining, you’re losing.