President Obama and Mitt Romney are balancing storm damage empathy with campaigning. As the New York Times reported, “even as the candidates altered their campaigning, their dueling television commercials were roaring along on Tuesday. The campaigns and their third-party allies are making a final push on already saturated airwaves with millions of dollars worth of new commercials.” Living in the swing state of Virginia we’ve seen (or rather muted or changed channels on) hundreds of TV ads from the campaigns, parties and third-party groups. It’s hard to imagine yet another round of ads changing any minds, but that hasn’t kept the campaigns from bombarding battleground states.
It is worth recollecting the array of attacks from the Obama camp that failed to carry the day. Romney’s approval rating is now higher than Obama’s and the Obama team tried portraying Romney as: 1) the “vulture” capitalist; 2) a tax evader and/or a felon for signing (or not signing) Bain documents after he left to run the Olympics; 3) killer of Joe Soptic’s wife; 4) outsourcer of jobs to China; 5) determined to take contraception away from women; 6) ready to give a tax cut to the rich and hike middle-class taxes; 7) egging on the auto industry’s demise; 8) willing to throw granny over the cliff on Medicare; 9) President George W. Bush’s political twin; and 10) Big Bird terminator.
In big and large assaults, some petty and some sweeping, Obama and third-party groups have spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to make Romney an unacceptable alternative. It seems to have failed, spectacularly so. You can attribute a great deal of that wipeout to Romney’s outstanding debate performances. You can give him and his campaign staff credit for (belatedly) focusing on the beleaguered middle class and his positive agenda to restore them to prosperity. And you can even credit some in the mainstream media — and many more in conservative media — for debunking the attacks.
But you do have to wonder if Obama’s throw-the-kitchen sink approach was ever going to work. The Obama team’s arrogance, I suppose, did not allow for the realization that the truth might be an impediment to its negative onslaught or that voters would be able to judge Romney for themselves.Obama only made himself look crabby and desperate. (Vanishing from the campaign trail to play the role of storm-aider-in-chief is probably the best thing he’s done for himself since September.)
We can only hope the failure of the demonization campaign will be a lesson to pols, their supporters and their media handmaidens that voters aren’t dopes and that, especially when their presidential vote is concerned, they want to think well of their choice. You run as shabby and mean-spirited a campaign as the Obama team has and, lo and behold, the voters just might turn away in disgust.