The Hill dryly reports: “President Obama’s campaign has yet to find a clear 2012 reelection slogan that carries the heft of 2008’s ‘Change You Can Believe In,’ raising worries among his supporters — and hopes among Republicans — that he is having trouble articulating a concise case for a second term.” That is one way of describing the dilemma of an incumbent president’s campaign that has no second-term agenda and exactly one significant accomplishment (killing Osama bin Laden).
But there are many possibilities out there. A New York Times report is evocative of something along the lines of: We don’t need no stinkin’ facts:
His messages have an improvisational feel at times. On the flight to Colorado last week, Jay Carney, his press secretary, read him an online column concluding that he has presided over slower growth in federal spending than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mr. Obama liked it so much he inserted it into his campaign speech.
Just like that, an online column, rather than a detailed study by a budget office, became fodder for his argument. “Since I’ve been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years,” he told supporters in a hotel ballroom in Denver. What he did not say is that the calculation did not count significant spending in his early months in office and assumed future cuts that he opposes.
What the New York Times did not say is that the claim was thoroughly debunked by, among others, Glenn Kessler who gave it three Pinocchios.
John Heilemann’s piece in New York Magazine is suggestive of another theme: Nixon, but without the competence. Heilemann writes
But the Obama indictment of Romney in the economic sphere will extend beyond Bain and the Bay State: It will go to character. It will drive home the idea that Romney is a skillful but self-serving plutocrat whose résumé is replete with self-enrichment but who has never cared an iota about bettering the lives of ordinary people. One tagline that the campaign is considering using — “He’s never been in it for you” — encompasses Bain, Massachusetts, and every Gordon Gekko–meets–Thurston Howell III gaffe he made during the primary season in one crisp linguistic swoop.
“Romney really, actually thinks that if you just take care of the folks at the top, it’ll trickle down to everybody else,” says another Obama operative. “But no one believes that stuff — no one! And once you puncture that, there’s nothing left. He’s not likable. He’s not trustworthy. He’s not on your side. You live in Pittsburgh and you’ve got dirt under your fingernails, who do you want to have a beer with? It ain’t . . . Mitt Romney. You’re like, . . . I’d rather have a beer with the black guy than him!’ ”
Or then again, Heilemann’s revelations could conjure up: Out of one, many (or: Karl Rove was a unifier compared to us):
In the campaign prior, any mention of [the Rev. Jeremiah] Wright caused a collective coronary in Chicago; this time, it provokes high-fives. In the campaign prior, Team Obama boldly bid to expand the map; this time, it is playing defense. In the campaign prior, the candidate himself sought support from the widest possible universe of voters; this time, instead of trying to broaden his coalition, he is laboring to deepen it. Indeed, 2012 is shaping up to be an election that looks more like 2004 than 2008: a race propelled by the mobilization of party fundamentalists rather than the courtship of the center.
There are many themes from which to choose. Obama’s attacks on the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United and his preemptive strike in the Obamacare case give us fodder for: He’s not going to let the Constitution stop him.
Then there is the Obama’s team’s unintentionally comic suggestion that it’s too risky to switch to Romney in the middle of this bang-up recovery. Perhaps: Change is for losers.
I’m sure you Right Turn readers have your own ideas. Give us yours in the comments section, and I’ll post the “best” on Thursday.