Nasty, brutish and short. That’s how philosopher Thomas Hobbes described life in the state of nature. As for what Republicans can expect in the year ahead from the Obama reelection campaign, nasty, brutish and long is the apt description.
But there are hints that some Republicans want to go easy on Obama. A Republican pollster on a private Republican National Committee conference call last week warned that Republicans shouldn’t use personal attacks against the failing President.
“We’re hesitant to jump on board with heavy attacks,” said the pollster, according to a Yahoo! News source mistakenly invited on the call. “There’s a lot of people who feel sorry for him.” The pollster urged Republicans to “exercise some caution” in criticizing him.
It’s true that many Americans are fond of the President personally, even as his job approval ratings remain mired in the low 40s. It’s also true that Republican attacks against Obama will be denounced as unfair, uncivil and even racist by Obama’s media allies.
But Republicans shouldn’t be cowed into treating Obama with kid gloves. In 2008, John McCain refused (and refused to allow his surrogates) to discuss almost anything from Obama’s scandal-ridden personal life, from his associations with domestic terrorists to his longtime membership in the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church. Even mentioning Obama’s middle name was off-limits.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign was busy portraying his opponent, John McCain, as too old, hot-tempered and out-of-touch to lead the country. Even as Obama was inspiring audiences with talk of unity and bipartisanship, he was telling campaign volunteers to get down-and-dirty against Republican opponents. “If they bring a knife to the fight,” he urged a Philadelphia crowd on the campaign trail, “we bring a gun.”
Last Tuesday, on the very day that Republican strategists were privately urging rhetorical caution, Obama publicly reaffirmed his commitment to class warfare.
Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, was supposed to focus on the economy. But its real purpose was to continue to stoke class envy. Obama lashed out at those who “want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years.
“[T]heir philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules,” he declared. We simply cannot return to this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country.”
Obama has repeatedly shown that he’s the Mudslinger-in-Chief. In October, the President described the GOP jobs plan as, “Let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, [and] less [sic] people with health insurance.” He’s compared congressional Republicans to “hostage-takers” for holding out for comprehensive tax cuts. He’s accused them of not caring about kids with autism and other disabilities.
In August, Obama campaign officials went public with how they were preparing to attack then-GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney. “Barack Obama’s aides and advisers are preparing to center the President’s reelection campaign on a ferocious personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character,” Politico reported. A White House strategist said, “Unless things change and Obama can run on accomplishments, he will have to kill Romney.”
According to Politico, “Obama’s reelection campaign will portray the public Romney as inauthentic, unprincipled and, in a word used repeatedly by Obama’s advisers in about a dozen interviews, ‘weird.’ ” A senior Obama adviser said that the attacks against Romney would be “based on character to a great extent.”
If that’s how the Obama campaign plans to portray the mild-mannered Mitt Romney, you can just imagine what they’d do to Newt Gingrich.
There are also signs that Democrats may be willing to cheat as they look for ways to rally their disillusioned base. Scandal-plagued ACORN has reemerged, and according to investigative reporter Matthew Vadum, at least five ACORN officials have visited the White House for meetings in 2011.
Vadum reports that “one of these officials has been involved in vetting Department of Justice hires who may help to enforce the voter fraud-enabling National Voting Rights Act, also known as the Motor-Voter Law.”
The DOJ has been accused of refusing to enforce parts of the law that prohibit ineligible felons, dead people and nonresidents from voting, while vigorously enforcing parts of the law that require states to register voters at welfare offices, the vast majority of whom vote Democratic.
Thanks to Republican triumphs at the state level in 2010, 17 states have approved tougher laws to prevent voter fraud this year. But last month, congressional Democrats, who claim voter fraud is a myth, introduced legislation to prohibit photo ID requirements at polling places.
Introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D.-Minn.), the Same Day Registration Act would require all states to allow unverified voters to register and vote on Election Day. Ellison also introduced the Voter Access Protection Act, which would prohibit states from requiring that voters show identification.
The net effect of these laws would be to continue the type of rampant voter fraud that has plagued recent elections. These bills are unlikely to pass the GOP-led House. But they are another sign of the type of tactics Democrats are willing to employ to win.
Obama was elected in part because Republicans refused to challenge him, not only about policy positions but also about his personal life, his past and the corruption that surrounded his campaign. He’ll be reelected unless Republicans are willing to fight back forcefully against a ruthless and desperate Obama reelection campaign.