Obama: “Brass-knuckled, pipe-hitting brawler”
posted at 10:21 am on May 29, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of John Heilemann’s 7,000-word New York Magazine article on the 2012 Obama campaign:
- 2008 is not 2012.
- Obama’s campaign will focus on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain and in Massachusetts.
- It’s going to get nasty.
- Obama’s campaign managers like to use expletives…in every effing sentence, man.
The Obama team, writes Heilemann, will try to focus on certain demographic groups the president won big in ’08 – “minorities, (especially Latinos), socially liberal college-educated whites (especially women), and young voters.”
In other words, the president’s team will seek to motivate and deepen his base, rather than reaching out and expanding on it. This explains his “evolution” on the issue of gay marriage—at least two of those three demographics are with him on that issue.
It also explains his class warfare rhetoric and the attacks on Bain Capital. The team is probably trying to exploit any resentments minorities and young voters (looking, unsuccessfully, for employment) might have against “Wall Street” and large corporations in general.
Even as Democratic supporters shook their heads over the Obama team’s attacks on Romney’s experience at private equity firm Bain Capital, the public at large was saying “Bain who?”
More than 50 percent of those surveyed in a WSJ/NBC poll didn’t have any opinion at all on Bain, meaning it could very well be fertile material for the president’s team to use. “The electorate is a long way from making up its mind” about Bain and Romney’s involvement in it, says Politico writer Alexander Burns, which could be one reason the Obama team won’t necessarily drop this theme, despite criticism from allies.
The Bain ads, in fact, might just be the trailer for the campaign to come—a rock ’em/sock ’em action flick filled with negativity, negative exaggerations and…even negative flat-out falsehoods.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Here’s David Plouffe of the Obama campaign, quoted in John Heilemann’s article:
“We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what (Romney) would do as president…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.”
Hey, why stop there, David P.? Why not suggest that Romney will take away women’s vote, criminalize homosexuality, and not just deport illegal immigrants but execute them? I can hear the ominous campaign ad music right now.
Heilemann goes on to report that hope-and-change will be replaced by fear this time around because the Obama campaign believes the Republican/Romney agenda is a frightening prospect for America. Says Heilemann:
For anyone still starry-eyed about Obama, the months ahead will provide a bracing revelation about what he truly is: not a savior, not a saint, not a man above the fray, but a brass-knuckled, pipe-hitting, red-in-tooth-and-claw brawler determined to do what is necessary to stay in power—in other words, a politician.
Which leads to an interesting question, one several of my family members and I pondered during Memorial Day festivities: what acts of desperation will Obama’s teams perpetrate if things are close or not going well come the fall?
My first thought was a reverse-psychology blow, perhaps encouraging some unnamed billionaire to run a tasteless, unsavory attack (maybe something with a whiff of racism?)…on Obama, so that the president could play the victim and point his finger at the disgusting right-wingers who want to remove him from the Oval Office.
Think that’s crazy? In Heilemann’s article, the Obama campaign was licking its chops at the prospect of super-PAC ads featuring Jeremiah Wright.
“Our reaction was, ‘F***ing bring it on!’” said one Obama campaign veteran in the article. “It let us raise some righteous indignation in our base…and go to African-American leaders and say, ‘Hey, you need to get out there! Threaten boycott against TD Bank!’”
Other family suggested that a fall surprise might include digging up something from Romney’s past—no matter how tangential (after all, the Bain attacks feature events that took place after Romney had left Bain)—about illegal immigrant abuse and/or employment.
Whatever happens, the Romney campaign won’t be able to count on mainstream media to help voters sort fact from fiction. After all, this was the same crew that questioned Sarah Palin’s intelligence and qualifications while giving good ole boy Joe Biden a pass (he was a guy, a Democrat, and had been around a long time – so, numerous gaffes and policy blunders didn’t signify a thing, right?).
The Obama team had it relatively easy in 2008. John McCain didn’t excite Republicans. People were tired of the Bush years and everything they associated with him—from the wars to economic policies—and Obama represented a blank canvas upon which voters could paint their own particular hope and faith in this country. This year will be harder since the canvas is now filled with other pictures—a still-foundering economy, global unrest and partisan politics in all its glory (I don’t write that sarcastically).
Speculation abounds about how smart the Obama campaign really is. But it sounds as if they intend to substitute nasty for smarts, if their smarts aren’t up to the job. I hope the Romney team is prepared.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.