A campaign of shiny objects

In anticipation of a George Clooney-hosted fundraiser, Barack Obama came out in support of gay marriage last week. At the actor’s house, the president collected fifteen million reasons validating his about-face on same-sex unions.

Obama’s real motivation for his change of mind surely involves money. But it had less to do with the cash growing in his campaign coffers than with the diminishing dollars in voters’ wallets. 

The president who promised change now wants to change the subject.

Get used to distractions, diversions, and distortions. They will be a staple of President Obama’s reelection rhetoric for the next six months.

The non sequitur national conversation goes something like this….

More than half of college graduates under the age of 25 were either jobless or underemployed last year. Isn’t it an outrage that Sandra Fluke’s Catholic law school refuses to pay for her birth-control pills?

The national debt approaches $16 trillion. Can you believe that boarding-school bully Mitt Romney cut a homosexual’s bleach-blond locks fifty years ago?

GDP growth slowed to 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Don’t you think it’s courageous that the president stood up to those redneck homophobes in North Carolina by supporting gay marriage?

You get the picture. The president wants us to lose focus of the focus. He wants the sideshow to be the circus. 

“The president’s team will be doing everything in their power to try and hold up various shiny objects,” Mitt Romney explained to Neal Cavuto on Fox News last week, “designed to take people’s eyes off the ball.” The ball, presumably, is a metaphor for the economy, the deficit, ObamaCare—all that makes the state of the nation such a sorry state.

An incumbent without a record to run on ultimately sounds like a broken record. Unable to talk about himself, he talks (and talks and talks) about his opponent. 

The broken record becomes an old movie. The desperate candidate tells you these are not the droids you’re looking for, insists that you pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, and demands that you throw him the idol before he throws you the whip. Here’s where the art of the possible becomes the art of prestidigitation.  

It’s May, and Democrat ads already invoke a Swiss bank account and how Mitt Romney “made millions off of companies that went bankrupt while workers lost promised health and retirement benefits.” The president’s surrogates have slammed stay-at-home-mom Ann Romney as having “never worked a day in her life” and the former Massachusetts governor’s religion, claiming that “his family [came] from a polygamy commune in Mexico.

Hillary Rosen, author of the first attack, has visited the White House 35 times during the current administration. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who uttered the second smear, was given strong consideration by Obama as a possible running mate in 2008. Their proximity to the president makes their attacks difficult to dismiss as freelancing gone awry.

Even Romney’s donors aren’t safe. The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel reports that a former Democratic Senate staffer and current private investigator has been soliciting divorce records for a pro-Romney Super PAC’s million-dollar donor, who was not coincidentally attacked on an Obama campaign website.

When did private-citizen supporters, a candidate’s spouse, his religion, high school high-jinx, and his ancestors become fair game?

Campaigns go dirty when candidates get desperate.

A politician going negative early is an indication that things will go negative for him late—as in a week before Veteran’s Day late. Scott Rasmussen, seemingly the only head counter excluding empty-headed non voters from his political weather forecasts, sees Mitt Romney ahead of Barack Obama by 50 to 42 percent. With the tendency of undecideds to swing toward the challenger, one imagines the survey may actually undercount the strength of Obama’s opponent—be he Mitt Romney or a mullet-haired inmate in Texas.

The people paying attention in May vote in November. Anyone paying attention plainly sees a disappointment attempting to distract and disorient. Don’t talk about the deficit, unemployment, sluggish growth in the economy, or startling growth in the government.

Bill Clinton sailed to victory on the mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Barack Obama thinks you’re stupid enough to believe it’s not about the economy. 

A strategy predicated on the stupidity of voters may not be a smart strategy. But does this president have a better option?