The Republicans must be careful. We always knew this was going to be a nasty election. After reviewing the hatchet job reported in the New York Times article “G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama”, it is evident the politics of personal destruction will be in vogue. The smear was put together by a group of high-profile Republican strategists working with conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts (founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade),
The intent of the smear campaign will be to tie President Obama to statements made by his past spiritual adviser, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It will also attempt to make his relationship with Jeremiah Wright causal in the failure to completely eradicate the economic problems of our country, a problem created by 30 years of supply side economics.
Why should we give this story any attention prematurely? Whenever stories like this on any side is discovered, it is important that they are preempted to remove the shock value and the visceral human carnal response that they were designed to trigger. This will minimize the desired effect of having citizens voting against their own interest based on emotions as opposed to facts.
More importantly this smear being orchestrated by a small group shows the effect of allowing the unlimited infusion of monies into politics.
The document makes clear that the effort is only in the planning stages and awaiting full approval from Mr. Ricketts. People involved in the planning said the publicity now certain to surround it could send the strategists back to the drawing board.
But it serves as a rare, detailed look at the birth of the sort of political sneak attack that has traditionally been hatched in the shadows and has become a staple of presidential politics.
It also shows how a single individual can create his own movement and spend unlimited sums to have major influence on a presidential election in a campaign finance environment in which groups operating independently of candidates are flourishing.
Should the plan proceed, it would run counter to the strategy being employed by Mitt Romney’s team, which has so far avoided such attacks. The Romney campaign has sought to focus attention on the economy, and has concluded that personal attacks on Mr. Obama, who is still well liked personally by most independent voters surveyed for polls, could backfire.
Until our election laws are changed, every attack is subject to a counter attack and a preemptive strike. Karl Rove’s playbook, the art of personal destruction irrespective of truth, caused John Kerry the election in 2004 inasmuch as Senator Kerry fought for the country and the middle class. It is evident from all the material I have seen that President Obama will respond to attacks as well as preempt attacks.
Mitt Romney may do well to hold on to his bull dogs. After-all, if religion is brought into the mix, as a son of a Mormon I can tell you there is much in that religion that if exposed would give pause to most Americans. Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney should be judged by his religion or the past bad deeds of his religion.
One can only hope that both sides see that mutual assured character destruction will only destroy our democracy. What is at stake is two distinct visions of America; Mitt Romney’s belief in an America based on social Darwinism and a “corporatocracy”, and President Obama’s belief in free enterprise with a robust social safety net and well-regulated capitalism. Neither vision is wrong. We should have an honest debate that allows America to choose with open eyes and fact based information.
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