Noted perpetual candidate still in search of argument for a second term

posted at 8:41 am on May 30, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

So … “Forward” apparently has flopped.  Earlier this week, The Hill explained that Barack Obama and his campaign still haven’t found a theme on which to run for a second term.  “Forward” turned out to be all about the past, and now Team O is back to spitballing:

Obama formally launched his campaign this month with the message of “Forward,” but one senior Democratic Party official told The Hill that people who thought that would be the campaign’s lasting official slogan should “stay tuned.”

Obama at various times over the past year has taken “Winning the Future,” “A Fair Shot,” “An America Built to Last” and “We Can’t Wait” for test drives, but none has found lasting traction. Vice President Biden has suggested one possible bumper-sticker slogan: “GM’s alive; bin Laden’s dead.”

The president’s Twitter feed earlier this week featured a picture of him throwing a football at Chicago’s Soldier Field along with the words “Clear eyes, full hearts.” The slogan concludes with “can’t lose” and is borrowed from the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” It has been adopted as a semi-official rallying call by Obama loyalists, and can be seen displayed on walls — and a chalkboard or two — around the reelection team’s Windy City headquarters.

As we have noted a number of times in the past, this team has had more than a year in Chicago to come up with a theme and an agenda for voters in this election.  Their opening attack on Mitt Romney failed after having prepared it for over eight months, too.  It’s as if the Obama campaign has no idea who their candidate is or how to pitch him to voters, and they’re not so hot at diagnosing Romney, either.

Yesterday, Ed Rodgers at the Washington Post wondered whether Democrats plan on another Obamessiah approach of idolization and deification:

The left has a decision to make: Is it going to try to repackage the starry-eyed romance and dreamy magic of Barack Obama from four years ago or build a rationale for his reelection based on lessons learned and a plausible critique of the president’s performance in office. Perhaps it will need to acknowledge that the idolization of Obama was a one-time phenomena and that voters, desperate for some results, will be impatient with proselytizing from the Obama camp.

A good test is approaching. Next Monday, June 4, will be the four-year anniversary of the speech candidate Obama gave celebrating his delegate count, which would make him the certain Democrat nominee. He took the occasion to state what he thought his presidency foretold. Of his own nomination victory, Obama said, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” He let others really lay it on thick. You would think the retrospective absurdity of this quote would make liberals a little cautious, if not embarrassed, and cause them to rethink how they enabled Obama. We will see how this is hidden or celebrated in the next few days.

Rodgers points out that Frank Bruni at the New York Times has decided to go the full American Idol route:

Bruni appears to be willing to strain even harder for Obama in 2012 by neglecting to find anything particularly admirable about Mitt Romney while completely refreshing the Obama myth. He never hints that the reality of electing a president who was a little-accomplished state senator, unknown community organizer and high school stoner has produced some disappointments and required plenty of on-the-job training. You have to read it to get the full dose, but among other things, Bruni says of Obama, “He still personifies the hope that we might evolve into the colorblind, fair-minded country that many of us want.  His own saga taps into the larger story of this country’s fitful unfinished progress toward its stated ideal of equal opportunity.”

In other words, prepare for more fainting spells from Obama’s allies in the media.  Not all of them are on board, however.  New York Magazine’s John Heileman writes that the old campaign on hope has given way to the new campaign strategy of fear and loathing (language warning, because hey, it’s NYM):

But if the Obama 2012 strategy in this regard is all about the amplification of 2008, in terms of message it will represent a striking deviation. Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago—running more negative ads than any campaign in history—what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”

The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”

Thus, to a very real degree, 2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear. For many Democrats, this is just fine and dandy, for they believe that in the Romney-Republican agenda there is plenty to be scared of. For others in the party in both politics and business, however, the new Obama posture is cause for concern. From the gay-­marriage decision to the onslaught on Bain, they see the president and his team as coming across as too divisive, too conventional, and too nakedly political, putting at risk Obama’s greatest asset—his likability—with the voters in the middle of the electorate who will ultimately decide his fate.

In my column for The Week, I reached the same conclusion as Heilemann, but for different reasons.  With the economy stagnating and the majority of voters wanting his biggest legislative achievement overturned by the Supreme Court, Obama has nothing else left to offer but the antithesis of Hope and Change — Fear and Inertia:

That’s why Obama’s struggles now have more than a taste of irony. If anything, the American public has grown more anti-establishment in sentiment. Obama can’t take advantage of it, however, for two reasons. First, Obama became the establishment, co-opting the very institutions against which he once railed — the Clintons, Wall Street, his party’s entrenched Congressional leadership, and lobbyists. That was more or less inevitable; even the most fervent anti-establishment politicians have to get other politicians to assist in passing legislation, or risk being seen as isolated and ineffective.

Obama’s bigger problem is his lack of a coherent and positive vision. In 2008, Obama’s team didn’t need to produce a complicated and nuanced agenda for his presidency; not being the establishment was enough. This time, Obama has to either produce a real agenda to justify a second term after three years of economic stagnation, or he has to make his opponent look scary and weird.

So far, Team Obama has opted for Plan Scary. They have painted Mitt Romney as a heartless “vampire capitalist” and dug up stories of high-school bullying. They have used Ann Romney’s passion for horses as a way to remind voters of just how wealthy the Romneys are. But those attacks have largely backfired as Democrats objected to attacks on private equity, an industry on which they rely for donors, and the mean-spiritedness of the personal attacks stoked sympathy for the Romneys, especially Ann.

In one sense, it’s similar to Obama’s 2008 campaign, but with a very big difference. Obama wanted to paint the Romneys as part of an existing establishment, as he successfully did with Clinton, Edwards, and McCain in 2008. This time, though, Obama isn’t presenting an alternative to the status quo. Without a positive vision for a second term — or really any vision for a second term — the strategy looks a lot more personal than political, and a desperate attempt to distract from his record in the new establishment. The Daily Beast‘s Lloyd Grove wrote this weekend about the emergence of an Obama “mean streak,” and quoted Larry Sabato comparing Obama’s campaigning to high-school bullying.

That’s why Team Obama has come up empty on a coherent campaign theme, despite having more than a year to do so.  Their candidate has no agenda, no vision, and no good reason to offer for a second term except by demonizing his opponent.  Fear and Inertia is all they have left.


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They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt

Well, good for him!!

JohnGalt23 on May 30, 2012 at 9:57 AM

I figured you’d get a kick out of that line. Not the worst kind of compliment.. to be named as someone that Obama doesn’t like is kind of a badge of honor.

mark81150 on May 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

baraka 2012-Choomin’ and Croonin’

baraka 2012- Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt- Feel the FUD!

baraka 2012- TOTUS knows.

baraka 2012- now wearing pullup diapers!

baraka 2012- hail Manure Midas!

baraka 2012- gettin’ the fiddle ready.

baraka 2012- trillion dollar baby.

GrassMudHorsey on May 30, 2012 at 10:04 AM

The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward

So in other words, they are going to paint him as Montgomery Burns.

If so I have three words for Romney- Release the Hounds!

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM

mark81150 on May 30, 2012 at 9:48 AM

We all being ruled by the guy “every woman wanted and every guy wanted to be”. I read that somewhere..

You want a ROCK STAR personna to lead you? Hove I just quantum jumped to Huff Po or the letters of Wa Po?

Look at what Zuckerberg or whatever his name in the dark hoodie with the Facebook stock just did for some stockholders.

Mitt looks and acts just like an executive and they run the biggest empire in the world every day in an effective and everyday way. He is a little nerdy but has virtues such as control, responsibility and common sense. I talked him up while the folks here were still chasing Governor Palin’s bus.

If our present POTUS was a gift from the “world to us”..

Mitt is a gift to us from the heart of American hard work and faith.

IlikedAUH2O on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM

baraka 2012- what healthcare act?

baraka 2012- stimulus- don’t know what you mean.

baraka 2012- don’t call my bluff.

baraka 2012- vacations, ho!

GrassMudHorsey on May 30, 2012 at 10:07 AM

baraka 2012- hail Manure Midas!

GrassMudHorsey on May 30, 2012 at 10:04 AM

You know, I actually own kingminus.com – just haven’t done anything with it.

Maybe I’ll do that during a break today.

kingminus.com: image of choomin’ Barry, and the caption “Everything he touches turns to less.”

beatcanvas on May 30, 2012 at 10:08 AM

baraka 2012- vacations, ho!

GrassMudHorsey on May 30, 2012 at 10:07 AM

That’s no way to talk about the First Lady!

Oh!, never mind, I missed the comma.

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2012 at 10:11 AM

“Vote for me, you racist sexist homophobic fundamentalist bigots, or I’ll really make you feel guilty.”

OhioCoastie on May 30, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Mitt is a gift to us from the heart of American hard work and faith.

IlikedAUH2O on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM

America prospers more when its leader does not have a personality cult.

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2012 at 10:13 AM

I always thought that if Obama was honest, his campaign slogan would be, “Socialism You Can Count On.” Oh well, I guess he’ll have to run on, “I’m Even More Severely Conservative Than Romney.”

Gladtobehere on May 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Can’t change unicorns in mid-choom

forest on May 30, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Thread winnner!

Nicole Coulter on May 30, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Given all of the administration’s end-runs around the law, why not just rearrange the letters of the existing slogan and go: “FROWARD!”

de rigueur on May 30, 2012 at 10:30 AM

How about:

Barack Obama 2012 – FORE more years

realitycheck on May 30, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Jobs is a three-letter word! Obama/Biden 2012

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2012 at 10:33 AM

This White House Photo of the Day with Obama’s glowing reflection off of the Vietnam Wall tells us the campaign will go for deification. They just can’t help themselves.

This photo should have recieved more attention. It’s that over the top:

http://moonbattery.com/?p=12286

No Niks on May 30, 2012 at 8:57 AM

Wow, in silhouette he looks just like Vladimir Lenin.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=vladimir+lenin&view=detail&id=05C51782AF440DED6F2AB778FD9D134AD202C6A4&first=271&FORM=IDFRIR

Nicole Coulter on May 30, 2012 at 10:36 AM

GM without Saturn is not “alive”. At best, it is a zombie.

The Schaef on May 30, 2012 at 10:37 AM

I’m wondering if they’ll have a hard time filling Bank of America stadium next September. No doubt they’ll bus people in … Conservative bloggers should document this astroturf thoroughly, and mock mercilessly.

Moreover, if they’re going to paint Romney as backward, they may want to stop and consider that when you find yourself in a “ditch” sometimes the best thing to do is to hit REVERSE!

Nicole Coulter on May 30, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Noted perpetual candidate still in search of argument for a second term

“If it is still profitable, living, successful, a joy-to-run, and bring smiles to the community, I will banhammer it out of existence until it is gray, stagnant, and depressing like the rest of the country. That is my agenda for my second term. Vote for me and I — with gusto — will insure that every green shoot gets doused in RoundUp.”

- President Barack Obama

Fired Up! Ready to Go!

Resist We Much on May 30, 2012 at 10:43 AM

as if the Obama campaign has no idea who their candidate is or how to pitch him to voters

Maybe they have an exact idea who he is and that’s the problem. Hard to tell sell tall tales to people that actually live next door to Davey. You have to tell the truth, at least as far as people know it. I think they are basically looking for a place to pad some lies and can’t find any.

Axe on May 30, 2012 at 10:46 AM

The Long March – Obama 2012

Bishop on May 30, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Terble, just terble.


Bataan awaits!

No, damn, now I’m doing it.

Axe on May 30, 2012 at 10:50 AM

I heard they tested “Puppy Love” but dropped it because they thought people might think it was Obama’s favorite snack.

fogw on May 30, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Basically we have a bunch of 60s burnouts led by a boy king that accuses the GOP of wanting to return the 50s while doing their dead level best to resurrect the policies of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Let’s just point and laugh at them for another couple of months before we get serious. It is summer after all.

DanMan on May 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM

Since he likes to steal stuff, how about

Barak Hussein Obama- Tanned, Rested, and Ready.

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Wonder what his campaign strategy will be on January 21, 2013, the day after he’s evicted from his WretchedHive.

stukinIL4now on May 30, 2012 at 11:04 AM

You would think the retrospective absurdity of this quote would make liberals a little cautious, if not embarrassed, and cause them to rethink how they enabled Obama.

You can only employ those words if you possess a shred of common sense, and allow it to factor into your political judgements; in other words, you aren’t a liberal.

They will, as the lemmings they emulate, follow their dear leader off the cliff. Their only hope is that those with the clarity of understanding and common sense they lack will have had time to build a retaining wall against that cliff.

A Romney candidacy doesn’t make for very robust bricks, but they are much better than a long freefall.

Freelancer on May 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Re: the Hispanic meme. I’ve gotta say, this one is gonna hit the Dems hard in the rear end, especially in the coming years. Born and raised a Hispanic, Spanish speaking en casa, proud to be a bilingual American, I know that this nation is something special to be treasured, especially when you compare it to other nations in Latin America. We’re not stupid, and you can’t lump us in some sort of aggregate. Those of us who identify as conservatives – and it’s a growing number, believe me – may not have a nostalgia for some white picket fence 1950s Albion of yore, but we know enough to see right through the flimsy promises and class warfare of the Left. To so many of us, it feels so familiar. To some, it’s what we fled. We are hardworking, realistic, patriotic people with strong morals, faith, and attachment to family. If the Republicans could get past their queasiness with finally settling the immigration issue, we would flock in numbers to the GOP that would make the Dems’ heads go spinning. I warn them now: Be careful what you say in this election. We are watching. We are growing more educated. As we join the mainstream, we are harder and harder to manipulate. We’re not stupid. We are natural conservatives.

JoseQuinones on May 30, 2012 at 11:08 AM

Communists sure do love their slogans.

BigOil on May 30, 2012 at 11:11 AM

I heard they tested “Puppy Love” but dropped it because they thought people might think it was Obama’s favorite snack.

fogw on May 30, 2012 at 10:52 AM

I thought Obama’s favorite snack was Puppy Chow (now with real bits of puppy).

Gladtobehere on May 30, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Obama 2012:There’s Too Many Dogs Anyway.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on May 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM

OBAMA 2012: SPAIN OR BUST.

Oh, wait…

de rigueur on May 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM

There sure are a lot of good suggestions for 0 to consider here. I’m still hopeful he will try running on The 0 Economy™. He does own it and there’s that going for him. Come on 0. The 0 Economy™ Moving America Forward™.

Bmore on May 30, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Clear eyes, full hearts? Are you kidding me? That’s just about the opposite of an Obama supporter.

Dark Star on May 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM

NOMITTNOBAMA 2012!
America deserves much better than these two clowns!

Pragmatic on May 30, 2012 at 11:27 AM

“Criticize, Condemn, and Accuse!!” “Criticize, Condemn, and Accuse!! “Criticize, Condemn, and Accuse!!”

Marco on May 30, 2012 at 11:40 AM

has no agenda, no vision, and no good reason to offer for a second term except by demonizing his opponent

I think this has been true his entire life. He has an ability to spout a lot of platitudes and convince a lot of drones that he is the solution to every problem. He has a record now and he will be held aocountable.

RedInMD on May 30, 2012 at 11:48 AM

It’s just too hard to remanufacture a phoney messiah. Maybe they need to quickly,read more Alinsky,Marx and Orwell to see what to do now?

Don L on May 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM

NOMITTNOBAMA 2012!
America deserves much better than these two clowns!

Pragmatic on May 30, 2012 at 11:27 AM

…so put your makeup on!

KOOLAID2 on May 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM

How about:
Barak Obama 2012 – Great Leap Forward. It worked for Mao.

morbius on May 30, 2012 at 11:52 AM

“Gloom, despair and agony on me!
Deep dark depression. Extensive misery!”

“Humiliate. Intimidate. Confiscate!”

“We Don’t Need No Stinking Constitution!”

“It’s Only A Police State If You’re On The Inside!”

“It’s Only The Zombie Obamapocalypse.”

“We’re From The Government. We’re Here To Help!”

Jack Deth on May 30, 2012 at 11:55 AM

“When Mitt Romney says, ‘Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that,’” the ad says, “Romney is saying he’ll deny women the birth control and cancer screenings they depend on.”

That statement can be misleading. Mr. Romney was answering a question about what federal funding he would target for elimination or reductions if he is elected. His campaign has said he wants to end federal funding of Planned Parenthood, not the organization itself.

This is amazing in that Planned Parenthood is admitting something that they claimed not to be true until now … that “Planned Parenthood” is synonymous with “abortion”

J_Crater on May 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM

How about they use “Allahu Akbar!!” as their theme? Or, they could change it slightly to “Obamahu Akbar!!”

Monkeytoe on May 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Fear and Inertia is all they have left.

They also have the promise of real pain and injury to the economy and society should Mr. Obama be re-elected.

Don’t discount the masochist vote which seems to be concentrated in the blue states. The Obama campaign needs to get its base out to the polls. Look for “Thank you Mr. President. May I have another?” to replace “Forward” in California and other blue states shortly.

MessesWithTexas on May 30, 2012 at 12:04 PM

I would like to suggest this slogan for Obama’s team:

“All for one, one for all”

Kind of sums up his patronage over the last four years of the American people. It’s all about him and he’ll do whatever you want to get it.

bds1976 on May 30, 2012 at 12:30 PM

New slogan: “Everybody deserves a fair shot” …Nay!!Can’t use that. It will remind everyone of George Zimmerman and I sided with my son, Trayvon!!

Marco on May 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM

America prospers more when its leader does not have a personality cult.

It’s somewhat horrifying to realize that every President and every candidate for President actually thinks he belongs in the Oval Office.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on May 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Their candidate has no agenda, no vision, and no good reason to offer for a second first term

Change one word and he sounds an awful lot like this guy.

pain train on May 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Dr. Blow

Schadenfreude on May 30, 2012 at 1:40 PM

How about:

“Obama, our first Jewish President !”

pambi on May 30, 2012 at 1:58 PM

The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward

So in other words, they are going to paint him as Montgomery Burns.

If so I have three words for Romney- Release the Hounds!

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Little Bammie’s merry cabal of progs are burned-out leftovers from the generation of smelly sixties radicals, and wannabes. The fifties look pretty good compared to that.

slickwillie2001 on May 30, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Obama/Biden 2012 PUFF, PUFF, PASS

Obama/Biden 2012 I think when you spread wealth around, it’s good for everybody.

Obama/Biden 2012 All bow to the Eye of Sauron

Obama/Biden 2012 Can I just eat my waffle?

Obama/Biden 2012 Leading all 57 states to a glorious future

Obama/Biden 2012 Because Michele will leave and take the kids if I lose.

Obama/Biden 2012 It’s still Bush’s fault

Obama/Biden 2012 If you strike me down I shall become more arrogant than you can possibly imagine.

ok, I need to get to work.

Boogeyman on May 30, 2012 at 2:13 PM

How about:

“Obama, our first Jewish President !”

pambi on May 30, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Obama is our first black, gay, pro-Islamic, Socialist POTUS, but Jewish? It’s called Taqiyya.

If Israel was pushed into the sea, Obama and Michelle would party at the White house before taking a tour of the Islamic world.

Gladtobehere on May 30, 2012 at 3:52 PM

The president’s Twitter feed earlier this week featured a picture of him throwing a football at Chicago’s Soldier Field along with the words “Clear eyes, full hearts.” The slogan concludes with “can’t lose” and is borrowed from the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” It has been adopted as a semi-official rallying call by Obama loyalists, and can be seen displayed on walls — and a chalkboard or two — around the reelection team’s Windy City headquarters.

That photo of Obama badly posed as a hapless guy with a badly held and unaimed football is the most ridiculous thing I have.ever.seen.from.him and that’s saying a lot.

I am having a hard time believing anyone would or could ever take that photo seriously, certainly not to heart — it’s just laughably ridiculous, shows Obama in all his egotistical and quite stupid vanity.

Lourdes on May 30, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Please, dear Lord, rid us of this evil man.

Obummer’s very presence at the Vietnam Memorial desecrates my cousin’s memory. My cousin was a pilot who was shot down in Vietnam. He volunteered for Vietnam after college even though he was in no danger of being drafted.

sherrimae on May 31, 2012 at 1:16 AM

Don’t forget psychopaths can be extremely likeable until they eviscerate you.

Just sayin’.
{o.o}

herself on May 31, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Once again: The only thing we (Dems) have to offer is fear itself!

Olo_Burrows on May 31, 2012 at 4:13 PM

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