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Romney’s Daunting Challenges

The GOP candidate is swimming upstream against an incumbent who presses his advantages to the fullest.

by
Jean Kaufman

Bio

September 22, 2012 - 12:01 am
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The swing state polls are discouraging. The news is bleak. The press is filled with articles about what’s wrong with the Romney campaign.

And some of those doing the carping hail from the right. Others on the right are busy cheerleading and saying it’s all a ploy to demoralize us, and that the polls are rigged. And although there is little doubt that some of the negativity is an attempt to dishearten the right, and that some polls are rigged and others just poorly designed, some of the problems with the Romney campaign are very real.

But every campaign has its inevitable problems — its disagreements and dissension and errors and missed opportunities. Keep on blaming Mitt Romney and you’ll miss what’s going on. It’s not really about Romney at all; he’s just the present focus.

Let’s take a look back. During the 2008 campaign, it didn’t take long to see that Obama would do whatever it took to win, and that he was very good at finding out what that “whatever” might happen to be. In fact, one might say that the politics of destruction, subtle or direct, coupled with the simultaneous ability to present himself as a really nice guy, has been the greatest skill he’s demonstrated so far. He certainly isn’t good at governing.

Go back to Obama’s Chicago days and you’ll see it clearly (see this and this if you need a refresher course), and remember what happened to Hillary Clinton in 2008. Despite the fact that she was no political neophyte, Obama mowed her over and she hardly knew what hit her. Flailing around to find an effective way to counter-attack Obama, she came up empty.

Initially, when Obama first became president, it made sense to conclude that his chances for a second term would depend on how well he performed in his first. But in retrospect, it seems clear that Obama’s popularity and electability have never rested on his record of accomplishment, and it was an error to think that his becoming president would change that.

And after all, who among his previous supporters is going to turn on him and vote for Romney instead? Not the left, or most liberals. Not white voters who are inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on his record because they feel so good about themselves when they vote for the black candidate. Still others who probably won’t leave Obama are those low-information voters who might theoretically be swayed but who don’t like to dig too deeply into things and are pleased with Obama so far because he’s “likeable” (whatever that might mean), and who are susceptible to sound bites and headlines in an MSM with a mission to help re-elect Obama by presenting everything Romney does as bad and ignoring or minimizing Obama’s errors.

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