ALLAN KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
I awoke to TV pundits discussing the remarkable Obama Campaign team and their brilliant strategy. Certainly, the Obama Campaign deserves credit for a masterfully implemented plan, but let's not forget that the President’s successful campaign was not just based on its manager’s wizardry; it was built on a solid foundation of real, factual differences between the candidates and the core of their respective parties.
- The Republican "war on women" was not an advertising strategy invented by political operatives to sell a candidate; it was a theme that grew out of a reality-based differences between the policies of Barack Obama and those of Mitt Romney and his Republican colleagues. The Obama Campaign did not create Richard Mourdock or Todd Aiken. Nor did the campaign employ ventriloquists to fill their mouths with stupid, insensitive, and misogynistic sound bites about women and rape. The campaign did not force Romney to challenge the inclusion of birth control in the Affordable Care Act or to persist in his cloistered silence on equal pay. To the extent women favored President Obama over Mr. Romney, their preference was grounded in facts.
- The Auto Bailout was not an Obama-come-lately campaign initiative; it was a policy from the early days of the Administration undertaken with the understanding that government intervention is sometimes necessary to steady sectors of the economy, save an industry, and, most importantly, protect well-paying jobs for America's families. By reminding Americans of what Obama did, the campaign pursued a fact-based defense of an Obama administration policy. Of course, the Auto Bailout also brought a campaign bonus. That bonus was the decision of Romney, an allegedly moral and upright former Bishop of his Church, to launch an assault on the truth about the Bailout by claiming Obama was behind a lying assertion that Chrysler was moving 1500 Jeep jobs to China. This unprecedented desperate move brought auto industry spokespersons, including the CEO of Chrysler and GM spokeseprsons, into the campaign to remind voters that the Romney Campaign was not telling the truth.
- Obama's support of the Dream Act was not a last minute campaign posture to the Hispanic community in the United States. Although the President may not have moved on the Act as quickly or effectively as many of us would have liked, there is no reason to believe that his Executive Order was not both principled and sincere. On the other hand, Mr. Romney's introduction of "self-deportation" into the American political lexicon on the road to the nomination -- and his failure to renounce the harsh positions of his party after the nomination was achieved -- were not the result of coercion from the Obama administration; they reflected either his own heartfelt positions or his inability to detach himself from the most xenophobic tendencies of the Republican Party.
- The disappearance of the enthusiasm gap was not solely a function of the Obama Campaign’s magic. In his pursuit of the worst instincts of some of the Republican base, Romney helped energize the Democratic base. The African American turnout was going to be large, but Romney's introduction of racial stereotypes to enthuse and motivate his base --e.g., the fictitious elimination of the welfare work requirement -- actually energized both African Americans and many other Americans who were offended, angered, and just plain pissed off that following the President’s historic victory of 2008, Romney would rely on subtle and not-so-subtle racism to win the election.
One could continue listing the differences between Mr. Romney and his party on the one hand and President Obama and his party on the other, but the point should be obvious: David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Jim Messina, and those around them may be brilliant political strategists, but they did not invent the substantive issues of the campaign. Those issues grew out of real differences between the President and Romney and between the cores of the Democratic and Republican parties, differences that matter in the lives of real people and that, hopefully will guide the second term of Barack Obama as this country moves forward into an uncertain, but -- for the moment -- optimistic and hopeful future, whatever Obama's other policy flaws.
(Photo: Peace Education Center)