Halperin: Team Obama jumps the binder

posted at 10:01 am on October 18, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

In my column today at The Fiscal Times, I gave Mark Halperin of Time Magazine a lot of credit for being one of the very few journalists that spoke out about Barack Obama’s lack of a second-term agenda or much substance at all after the debate on Tuesday night.  We’ll get back to the column in a moment, but first Halperin extends his analysis today after a 36-hour cycle of Bindergate.  Halperin can’t believe that we’re less than three weeks out from the election, and all that seems to concern the Leader of the Free World and his brain trust is the word “binders”:

Halperin’s right — this is what’s wrong with our politics at the moment, but it’s also a deliberate strategy from Team Obama.  He can’t run on his record; his record includes a dramatic erosion of median household income during the recovery that started on his watch, as well as the lowest civilian population participation rate for the workforce since 1981.  Obama won’t run on his agenda, because he either doesn’t have one (and he certainly hasn’t published one or pushed it at either debate, choosing to attack Romney instead), or because, as Mickey Kaus writes, any honesty about his second-term agenda would cost him the election.

That sets this election up as a contest between a challenger with an agenda and an incumbent who refuses to provide one, whether purposefully or simply out of incompetence.  Either way, I argue in my column that this sets up a dangerous precedent:

Will it work?  Can an incumbent run a substance-free, negative campaign to victory?  Two trends suggest that the answer is no.  First, the campaign never did do that much damage to Romney over the summer.  On occasions, Romney did some damage to himself, but with fleeting impact.  Since the beginning of this campaign until the end of September, polling in this campaign has remained tight, usually within the margin of error, even if Obama edged Romney for most of that period.

Second, the strategy hit an iceberg in the first debate.  Far from the caricature of Romney on which the Obama strategy relied, Romney demonstrated presidential mien and a clear grasp of data in the Denver match-up.  Obama spent most of the evening on his heels, unable to effectively parry Romney’s attacks on his record or match Romney’s vision for the next four years.  Obama and his team fixed the performance issue without addressing the structural flaw of having no real positive argument for voters to support him.

It is still certainly possible that Obama can win this election using this strategy, but it has some unnerving implications for politics in the future.  While negative campaigning has a long history in the US – all the way back to the poisonous atmosphere of the 1800 election – voters have always had significant substance to consider when choosing candidates.

If they reward a substance-free campaign like Obama’s, we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future, as politicians weigh the risk-reward ratio of having substantive proposals against the easy path of namecalling and scare-mongering.  If that does come to pass, we can thank our zinger-obsessed media for helping us along the way.

Halperin is saying the same thing in these videos, with some sense of urgency.  After all, the summer is the “silly season,” when campaigns can take fliers on substance-free attacks while they gear up for the general election.  If a campaign’s messaging revolves around Big Bird, binders, and dirty dishes three weeks before the election, it’s a sign of political exhaustion and intellectual bankruptcy.


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The shiny object strategy is down to binders?

Just think, Team Obama could have had a real strategy… but that would have taken a real good record to run on. They can’t deploy the record and now the shiny objects can’t even get attention outside the mouthbreathers on the Left.

ajacksonian on October 18, 2012 at 11:01 AM

The Kill Romney campaign had two parts: ads portraying him as an evil corporate raider, and using the media to brand him as a gaffe machine who is not ready for prime time. Those dual narratives were extremely important in their effort to “disqualify” Romney as a plausible President. Romney helped them with a few verbal mistakes, but for the most part the “gaffes” were entirely manufactured.

Romney pretty much demolished both narratives in the first debate. Team Obama tried to manufacture a gaffe with the Big Bird thing, and now they have tried again with the “binder” comment. They are like Randolph Duke yelling “turn those machines back on!!” at the end of Trading Places.

rockmom on October 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM

101,still don’t get it.

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Barack Obama has a second-term agenda. It’s, “Keep me in president, you know? I’ll give you a phone.”

That’s not meant to be a joke.

The Rogue Tomato on October 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM

102,103, still not getting it.

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Okay, fine, still not getting it.

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Oh, and Obama HAS put forth an agenda for second term. He just did it at the very beginning of the campaign, in that speech at Osawatomie. It’s a hard-left and blatantly redistributionist agenda. He has repeated bits and pieces of it along the way, but it’s very clear to anyone who has paid attention that he does have an agenda. He just disn’t want to talk about it late in the campaign.

The strategy was to lay out a hard-left agenda early, then run the Kill Romney campaign, grab a lead in the polls, claim an inevitable victory, create a preference cascade, and demoralize conservatives into staying home. After the election Obama would then claim a mandate for his hard-left agenda, even though he never actually campaigned on it.

This is exactly what will happen if he wins. He’s already laid down a marker today, demanding an increase in the top tax bracket in return for any deal on the fiscal cliff.

rockmom on October 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Flora,

Laura Ingraham talking about that Daily Caller article now.

AubieJon on October 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Why are Bill and Hill still involved in trying to get zero reelected after all the sh/t zero has been doing to Hill? What better place to be than in the enemy’s camp?
The honey badger’s name has been changed to hillery badger.

dragondrop on October 18, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Hey, it’s not just the word “binders” it’s the binder costumes, too, that they’re obsessed with. Along with vaginas, these are their Halloween costumes this year. They should thank the right for the ideas, otherwise they’d have to go as listless lifeless libturds.

stukinIL4now on October 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

rockmom on October 18, 2012 at 11:15 AM

“Hope and Change 2008″ has gone to “Hope it Changes Back 2012″

gonnjos on October 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Flora,

Laura Ingraham talking about that Daily Caller article now.

AubieJon on October 18, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Now she has Ed Klein on the phone, asking him about his article.

AubieJon on October 18, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Mitt can really move the process forward by saying, where it appropriate – Hillary has accepted BLAME for the lack of security for Amb Stevens, so why has she not been released?

Transfer her accepting responsibilty to her accepting blame, and then let BHO and Hillary sort out the diffference.

gonnjos on October 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Hold your breath. Stand on your head. This whole undescribably ugly mess of an Obama Administration will be over soon. But, if anything like this ever, EVER happens again, it will be your own effing fault.

Mr. Grump on October 18, 2012 at 11:17 AM

“God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed… If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty… Let them take arms… What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. “~Thomas Jefferson in 1787

davidk on October 18, 2012 at 11:44 AM

I’ve had this real feel that people have been wanting more than “gotcha” politics for a while, and I think it’s finally bubbling over. This catching people at awkward moments and making political hay is hopefully going to backfire this time.

itsspideyman on October 18, 2012 at 11:47 AM

davidk:

You omitted the part about what those weapons were. They were not just M4s, 81mm mortars, or LAWS rockets. They were MANPADS, most likely Stingers. No one cares about the old Russian junk Qaddafyi had. We gave MANPADS to these jihadis and Obama wanted to buy them back before two guys in a fishing smack could take down an Airbus off Sicily or someother place in the central Med. This is the scandal if true and if it can get out.

xkaydet65 on October 18, 2012 at 11:13 AM

Yes, serious stuff if as you say “if true and if it can get out.”

I had wondered if this was an elaborate hit on Stevens by someone in the WH admin, but just could not belive, even after Foster, that someone would do that. Maybe I’m still too naive.

davidk on October 18, 2012 at 11:51 AM

The fact is they the liberal elite, smarter than anyone else in the room Obamabots….won’t address the fact that Mitt Romney identified a gap in the employment of woman and filled it with woman that were overlooked by the former administration.

Actually “HELPING” the woman through Mitt’s directive… and without federal government mandates…. qualified woman who wanted to work and were eager to work, got a chance to work! I can see how that would offend liberals.

They are so blind and foolish they don’t get their own hypocrisy.

ActinUpinTexas on October 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM

What am I missing. Anyone?

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 10:18 AM

I’m with you on that. I may not be the most politically aware person here, but I know enough about what’s going on to know when somebody’s got a “gaffe” made by their opponent and can run with it – even for the sake of ridicule. Jokes and jabs, etc.
But there’s nothing to the ‘binder thing’. Perhaps if Romney had included the word ‘resumes’ in there it would have made a difference in the way it was treated; but even so, this makes for some mighty thin gruel.
Even his low-information voters have got to be saying, “WTF! Binders? Wassup wi’ dat?”

Obama knows he’s going down. And he knows that no amount of voter fraud and no outrageous lawsuits will save him.
And it’s going to be one helluva rough ride from November to January. Lil barry is not someone who will take rejection in stride. There will be none of the dignity that G.W.Bush displayed in ’08.

Solaratov on October 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM

The strategy was to lay out a hard-left agenda early, then run the Kill Romney campaign, grab a lead in the polls, claim an inevitable victory, create a preference cascade,
. . . .

rockmom on October 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Well, at least one part of Team Obama’s strategy worked.

They are creating a preference cascade . . . problem is, it’s for Romney. (Thanks guys!)

AZCoyote on October 18, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Romney reads binders.

Obama wears blinders.

Christien on October 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Okay, fine, still not getting it.

Bmore on October 18, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Okay, I’ll try. Romney didn’t see enough women applying for jobs in his administration as Governor of MA. So… he asked around at various women’s groups to find him qualified women to hire. These groups gave Romney binders with resumes of women inside, many of whom he later hired.

When talking about this occurence he said, “Binders of women…” instead of “Binders of women’s resumes…” See, the left says he hates women because he hired women to work for him but in talking about it, he left out or inferred the word “resume”. Get it? He’s an evil misogenist… or something. For the overly literal, “He keeps women in binders! He’s gonna put y’all back in chains!” Wait, I’m mixing my memes.

Now do you get what a horrible, horrible thing bindergate is? War on Women #4,987,921!

Fallon on October 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Ann Romney just articulated and demonstrated women’s issues to perfection on The View, a show I NEVER watch but did tune in to see her segment today. She really is fantastic and her appearance at this point of the campaign was brillant.

Rockygold on October 18, 2012 at 12:11 PM

The fact is they the liberal elite, smarter than anyone else in the room…

ActinUpinTexas on October 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM

I think I’m gonna go with the “literal” elite from now on. They act like children.

Fallon on October 18, 2012 at 12:11 PM

The Clintons don’t get mad. They get even.

True. But, there’s no way they’d leak it before the election, imo.

kit9 on October 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

They are like Randolph Duke yelling “turn those machines back on!!” at the end of Trading Places.

rockmom on October 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Nice metaphor

OneFreeMan on October 18, 2012 at 12:13 PM

It makes sense that she decided to grant the requests, I mean there’s no downside for her to do so and a huge downside if something happened like it did.

Flora’s right, that if these documents exist, it’s nuclear for Obama.

TXUS on October 18, 2012 at 10:41 AM

If Hillary did, indeed, “order increased security” for the Benghazi consulate, then someone below her countermanded that order. When Lake (?) testified before congress, she said that she had two superiors who ordered her not to grant the security requests (who are – as yet – not publicly named).
Any of the blame for the lack of security will probably fall on them – and, unless they have emails or letters, notes, etc., with lil barry’s signature on them directing them not to increase security, they are the ones who will take the fall for Benghazi. Hillary will have emails showing her ordering increased security; and barry will simply say that security arrangements for a single consulate is not something that would hit his desk (other than as a part of a broad overview of “enhanced” 9/11 security precautions).
Both Hillary and D’OHbama will probably skate on that.

Solaratov on October 18, 2012 at 12:18 PM

The Obama campaign has jumped a binder full of sharks.

HumpBot Salvation on October 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Bainbig birdbinders… all the Bs but still no Brains.

pat on October 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM

…Big Bird will hold a press conference with women in giant paper mache binders and tell everyone they gonna put y’all back in chains, while directing Black Panthers with clubs to hand out FREE contraceptives….FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!!

Raquel Pinkbullet on October 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Well done, Raquel Pinkbullet. Well done. Your analysis of O’s campaign is spot on.

susietwo on October 18, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Did someone say “binders full of women?!”

Christien on October 18, 2012 at 12:34 PM

It hardly surprising that an administration full of people with little to no business experience would not understand the early steps in hiring personnel.

Neither is it unexpected that an administration which steered so much of the ‘stimulus’ to its cronies would not understand a governor wanting to look outside his circle when hiring personnel.

The only people who would see this as controversial are the Obama campaign and the news media, but I repeat myself.

agmartin on October 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I’m guessing pretty much everything will be A FAUX OUTRAGE from now until election day, it’s all they’ve done up until now so they obviously don’t have anything else , now they’ll just double down on the faux outrage. Big Bird will hold a press conference with women in giant paper mache binders and tell everyone they gonna put y’all back in chains, while directing Black Panthers with clubs to hand out FREE contraceptives….FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!!

Raquel Pinkbullet on October 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM

The vaginas, ma’am. Don’t forget the dancing vaginas.

Gator Country on October 18, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Distractions beginning with “B”
Big Bird
Binders

Anything to avoid the big issue B – BENGHAZI

Brat on October 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I think Obama has an agenda for his second term, but it’s the same one he had for his first term, and it certainly won’t get him reelected.

RebeccaH on October 18, 2012 at 1:21 PM

ATTENTION: ROMNEY CAMPAIGN.

Use the President’s words………and then show the results of that report that showed HE PAYS LESS to WOMEN at the White House than he does the men.

GO ALL OVER HIM ON IT.

PappyD61 on October 18, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Cher went ape crap about this on twitter.

rubberneck on October 18, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Hope Donald Trump tears her to shreds this afternoon.

She’s a piece of work she is………but just “average” to quote the Donald.

PappyD61 on October 18, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Binders? They want to talk about binders?

I say we grant them their wish. We’ll start with these to binder-related topics.

If you filled 38 million 3-ring binders with $100 bills, you still wouldn’t have enough money to pay off the federal government’s credit card balance.

By the time all those Fast & Furious guns are recovered, the death certificates of the people murdered with those guns will need several 3-ring binders to keep them organized.

Bruce MacMahon on October 18, 2012 at 1:40 PM

davidk on October 18, 2012 at 11:51 AM

I think it was a double cross. The rebels agreed to talk to Stevens, then over ran the place. That is why there was so little security.

gonnjos on October 18, 2012 at 2:04 PM

They are like Randolph Duke yelling “turn those machines back on!!” at the end of Trading Places.

rockmom on October 18, 2012 at 11:21 AM

Very apt.

cheeflo on October 18, 2012 at 2:08 PM

I like how he weaselled “You didn’t build that” in there. Yeah, Mark, that sure is a non-issue too. Unless you’ve ever built anything.

Jim Treacher on October 18, 2012 at 2:26 PM

OMG! I mentioned this kind of mindless behavior by the Dems in this thread earlier today.

And like magic, they go out provide a perfect example.

Droopy on October 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM

OMG! I mentioned this kind of mindless behavior by the Dems in this thread earlier today.

And like magic, they go out provide a perfect example.

Droopy on October 18, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Did any of them bother to bring their resumes to put in those binders? They are apparently unemployed.

At least, in the new Obama economy of funemployment, they’ll have a nice cardboard shelter to sleep in after their protest.

Fallon on October 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Did any of them bother to bring their resumes to put in those binders? They are apparently unemployed.

At least, in the new Obama economy of funemployment, they’ll have a nice cardboard shelter to sleep in after their protest.

Fallon on October 18, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Nah, you can be sure they are SEIU unions slugs on one of their mandatory paid “protest” days.

HumpBot Salvation on October 18, 2012 at 5:07 PM

“…any honesty about his second-term agenda would cost him the election…”

Rush: If a Leftist ever told the truth about what they intend to do, no one would ever vote for them.

Another Drew on October 18, 2012 at 5:51 PM

…After all, the summer is the “silly season,” when campaigns can take fliers on substance-free attacks while they gear up for the general election…”

They (Axelfraud&Co) are still mired in the Dog Days of Summer, while Romney&Ryan are showing that they are the “Boys of October” and are engaged in the World Serious!

Another Drew on October 18, 2012 at 5:55 PM

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