President Obama needs a plan to inspire, not just anger.
Obama's recent harsh attacks on Mitt Romney are a mistake. Don't get me wrong — the Obama campaign should attack Romney aggressively. But Obama should appear to be engaged in administering the presidency while the dirty work is handled by others. I've been surprised by his reluctance to have a Rose Garden strategy that would be more flattering of him. Obama should appear to be earnestly working to solve problems at the White House, while his campaign attacks Romney with ads in key states and through surrogates in the media.
The best politics for Obama is to be viewed as an engaged and effective president. Instead, he rails against Romney in front of newspaper editors and wags his finger at the Supreme Court. He attacks a House GOP budget that only insiders have followed.
By conducting his campaign this way, he quickly elevates Romney as his equal. He should be letting Romney stew in the GOP primary mush for as long as possible. In fact, he should say that is what he is doing. Instead, he is offering Romney a hand up. Romney is no doubt thankful for the lift and the opportunity to begin to engage as an equal to the president.
The president's moves mystify me. Angry campaigning just isn't as flattering as the majesty of the presidency.
Obama's popularity is far behind where it needs to be with key voter groups. In 2008 his secret weapon was inspiration, especially among Hispanics, African Americans and young people. But now, among Hispanics, his job approval is only 41 percent, and with young voters his approval is in the low 50s, far from the 67 percent he had in 2008. All this suggests a lack of enthusiasm and eventually, a lower turnout.
And, by the way, Romney isn't a good bad guy. He will not be a credible villain that Obama can use to frighten voters and entice them to turn out like they did in 2008. Obama need voters to recommit to the emotional ideal of him as president. It is too soon in the election for Obama to be too mean. Being the angry partisan and leading the typical attacks on Republicans only makes independents and swing voters shrug and yawn.
We are about seven months away from the election, and Obama already looks like he is offering partisan politics as usual. It's a big mistake.