The Obama team knew months ago that the economy would not sufficiently improve before Election Day to justify his reelection. Its polling showed simply blaming President George W. Bush wouldn’t be sufficient. The president and his political hacks concluded that it was too late and too risky to adopt a whole new second-term agenda. (It would risk offending either the base or centrists and reveal his first-term agenda to have been entirely inadequate.) So what to do?
Extend the Republican primary by running ads hitting Romney and encouraging Democrats to vote against Romney in Michigan and elsewhere. Then, before Romney could fully get his bearings, unload a barrage of negative attacks, scare mongering and thinly disguised oppo attacks through the mainstream media, taking advantage of many political reporters’ relative ignorance about the private equity field and their inclination to accept whole-hog President Obama’s version of “facts.” The extent of that effort is only now becoming clear. The Associated Press reports: “President Barack Obama’s campaign has spent nearly $100 million on television commercials in selected battleground states so far, unleashing a sustained early barrage designed to create lasting, negative impressions of Republican Mitt Romney before he and his allies ramp up for the fall.” Think of it like the Confederacy’s artillery barrage on the third day of Gettysburg before Pickett’s charge — you have to in essence disable the other side before the charge begins or its curtains.
Virtually all of the ads were viciously negative, and judging from the number of Pinocchios they’ve racked up, continually and materially false.
But it hasn’t worked, the polls are still tied:
So the Obama team has shot its wad. Its opponent has more ammo and more money now. Romney hasn’t been mortally wounded. And there isn’t money from Obama to keep up the 4-to-1 spending barrage. In fact without it, Obama might well have fallen behind in the race. So the Obama team pleads for money and turns up the volume of the attacks. (After calling Romney a criminal in July, what’s left for September and October?) Obama is now committed to a strategy that isn’t working. He’s left to unleash his attack dogs and to pray for a miracle. Maybe the economy will rebound. Perhaps Romney will implode or pick a Sarah-Palin-type for vice president.
The reason, you see, that Obama’s camp has become so frantic in July is that its ineffectiveness in the summer subjects its side to grave risks. Having to defend his record, rely on his debate prowess and be evaluated on the economy over the last three years is as risky as, well, as sending thousands across a vast, empty field as enemy fire rains down upon them.