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One day before Election Day 2012 and the incredible has come true. Obama is neck and neck with Romney when, even with his disappointing record, Obama should be landsliding Romney and his Party of Big Business.
For all his billions plus campaign dollars, President Obama has missed out on repeatedly emphasizing the most obvious flaws of the Romney/Ryan campaign for a complete takedown.
If a year ago, people with a casual interest in politics were told that Obama’s opponent was a man who has secret bank accounts abroad, withholds his tax returns, maneuvers his various incomes in tax escape islands abroad, runs a takeover business that destroys or exports jobs, declares contempt for 47 percent of Americans receiving public benefits, adopts the Ryan Budget that shreds America’s public services, corporatizes Medicare, bloats the military budget, and further entrenches the domination of the one percent over American workers at a time of overall declining livelihoods and growing poverty, wouldn’t they conclude that the President was a shoo-in for re-election?
The Democrats failed to follow a cardinal rule of politics. Never let the public forget your opponent’s most serious liabilities. Sure, Obama’s televised ads battered Romney during the summer. Sure, when Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, the Democrats portrayed the Ryan budget as cruel, dishonest and economically destructive (e.g. in the name of spending austerity, the Ryan budget still contains deficits past the 2040s, by his own admission).
But in the final eight weeks of the campaign you repeat these grim and dim positions over and over again. If you don’t, Romney’s ads and the dittoheads running Obama’s campaign involuntarily converge to produce voter amnesia.
Have you seen the Democrats hammering in the secret tax returns and bank accounts lately? Have you seen the grisly details grinding down people’s economic, health and safety well-being and sense of security contained in the unchained Ryan budget? They have virtually disappeared from the horse-race obsessed mainstream media – print and electronic – and pointedly from Obama and unions advertisements. Until the final hour, repetition of your political opponent’s worst failings before the undecided voters, that a winner-take-all election makes so pivotal, is the recipe for victory. It also changes some decided minds and induces some Romney-leaning voters to stay home. Better yet, it throws the Republicans on the defensive all the way down to local elections.
But then what can you expect from a visionless political party that has more money than strategic brains. Obama’s advisers tell him to run by himself and not with his Democratic members of Congress, who he needs to retake the House and keep the Senate in order to and get anything done in his second term. Worse, as Matt Bai wrote Sunday in The New York Times, Obama has had no narrative for America’s future.
The Democratic National Committee went along with letting their chief nemesis in Congress- Speaker John Boehner – run unopposed by a Democratic candidate in his Ohio District. Unopposed! A free ride! Newt Gingrich never did that when, as a junior Congressman from Georgia, he led the movement to dump Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright and shortly thereafter defeat the sitting Speaker Tom Foley in Foley’s own Washington state Congressional district.
But then who ever thought the Democrats had the energy, persistence and brashness to take on their opposing political giants and topple them?
Kevin Phillips was so right when he said years ago that the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is that the former go for the jugular while the latter go for the capillaries.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.