This ad is clearly intended to be a “yes, we can” kind of message to anyone who wants to oust Obama in 2012. It features a candid Karl Rove reminding viewers that the 2012 elections are especially important, emphasizing that Obama needs to go and exhorting voters to “get this done.”
But the ad is also a little ominous, as it highlights the remarkable spending advantage Obama had over John McCain in 2008 — and concretely connects that advantage to his triumphs in certain traditionally Republican states (I’m looking at you, Virginia) and key swing states. The spot calls attention to the little pin that could puncture every inflated hope of the GOP: Campaigns — and how they’re conducted — matter. In many ways, money is the animating force of elections.
Sure, we can point to Newt Gingrich’s rise in the Republican primaries as evidence that a candidate with poor organization and practically-empty campaign coffers can overcome better-organized and better-funded candidates. But we ignore organization — and we ignore campaign cash — at our own peril.
In 2008, we elected a true Campaigner-in-Chief. He does so little else well, but, this, he somehow has mastered. He’s got Chicago in his blood. He’s got a “you gotta do what you gotta do” mentality. And, this time, he hasn’t had to deplete his resources fighting a vicious primary. His team has saved all its vitriol, all its vitality, all its vision for the general. The mainstream media will help him in ways they haven’t helped Romney or Gingrich or Perry — in ways they certainly won’t help the GOP candidate, whoever he (or she) turns out to be. If they’ll shove Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright to the sidelines, if they’ll bury Fast and Furious and Solyndra far beneath the surface, they’ll convert his economic record into a plea for patience and his every gaffe into charming evidence of the president’s humanity.
Rove runs through the list of Obama’s waning support. His approval is down with young voters, with Hispanics, with Midwesterners. But, even as Obama attempts to shore up the base with populist rhetoric aimed at the middle class, we have evidence that his team is prepared to do without the middle class vote. They’ve got a coalition of diehards — and, yes, they’ll need independents, but, well, that’s what money will buy. Maybe that’s crass and cynical to suggest independents are for sale — but, when it comes time to actually make a decision, voters who are undecided will look to campaign materials, to advertisements, to debates. All of that will work to Obama’s advantage.
The ad shows a clear path to electoral victory for the GOP — but it depends on precision. It requires conservatives, as the saying goes, to play chess instead of checkers. Every Obama claim must be countered with his inescapable record. For if any part of this ad is unequivocally hopeful, it is this sentence, “He can’t run on his record. What’s he going to say — ‘Vote for me because of the failed stimulus, all those deficits I piled up and a health care bill you hate?'”