Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Obama campaign takes control

Following Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, most pundits hailed James Carville as a genius for setting up the infamous War Room as a rapid response against Republican attacks. Twenty years later, I'm starting to see signs that the Obama 2012 campaign is upping the ante and taking things to the next level. They're not simply responding to Republican attacks, they're controlling the narrative and putting the Romney campaign on the defensive.

It all started back when Romney made the colossal mistake of joining the Republican's "war on women" (before he started etch-a-sketching himself from the primaries) by joining in the fray with waffling support of Senator Blunt's bill to allow employers to deny contraception coverage and affirmed his goal about ending Planned Parenthood.

As all that was swirling, the Obama campaign rolled out their efforts to highlight the Buffett Rule right around "tax day." Romney was forced to react and chose to call it a gimmick, even though as we saw, Ronald Reagan had supported just such a measure.

And before they had a chance to catch their breath on that one, President Obama started  in with the HUGE rallies on campuses talking about the need to extend the low interest rates on college loans. Even though it contradicted what he'd said earlier, Romney was forced to agree.

Both of these issues (Buffett Rule and interest on college loans) were accompanied by Congressional votes where Republican legislators were also forced to take a position.

Then came Obama's "coolness" highlighted by his appearances on Jimmy Fallon's show and the White House Correspondent's dinner. Romney was forced to react by giving up on the "likability" factor.

And then, to coincide with the anniversary of the raid against Osama bin Laden, last night we saw the President's surprise trip to Afghanistan, complete with the signing of an agreement about ending that war and a speech to the nation during prime time. While Romney is left to deliver pizzas to a NY fire station with more waffling on whether or not he would have gone after the mastermind of 9/11.

All of this requires planning and forethought on the part of the President and his team. You begin to wonder whether or not they've mapped out the next 6 months of this election in the same way. If so, I think we'll continue to see the Romney campaign flat-footed trying to constantly figure out how to respond.

I'd say its time to put away that old trope about Democrats always being the victim of superior messaging/campaigning by Republicans. Once again, the team of Obama/Plouffe are showing us how its done!


  1. I do not ever WONDER about PBO+Plouffe+Ax! First they are brillant! Second Mitt+staff got used to "the clown car" and cant even wonder about just how bad PBO is going to scrub the floor with them!

    Last night PBO showed them how it is done!

  2. Oddly enought, Obama is acting like a CEO. He consults with experts about WHAT need to be done, assigns his people to do the various tasks based on what he deems their strengths, and the FOLLOWS UP to make sure its done.

    Mitt seems to be a grocer with 3 employees who is always cleaning up soap spills on Aisle 5 because the employees are doing something more important.

  3. You had better believe they have the next six months mapped out. Obama is always playing chess while his opponents are playing checkers. Always thinking a few moves ahead.

    But I would not say the Afghanistan trip was a political move, though as usual it was staged well politically. The withdrawal from a combat role in Afghanistan has been planned for years.

    And even the student loan trip, which looked a lot like a political trip and played well politically, had a legitimate purpose because the time to vote was coming up in Congress, and the president needed to put pressure on Congress.

    1. I'm not one that buys into a distinction between politics and governing. Its the Republican pattern of separating the 2 that leads to cynicism. A good politician grounds her/his politics in good governing.

  4. bravo, smartypants.

    I absolutely love that our President has taken away the foreign policy club from them and won't hesitate to beat them with it.

  5. I love smartypants concept of not separating politics and governing. Absolutely, when it comes to the common good everything becomes political.

  6. There is an interesting meme about the "Democrats needing to prevent the Republicans trying to usurp the Bin Laden killing", like they (apparently) did, last year.

    However, much more important is, in light of the Afghanistan visit, that the President keeps the lede :-) on the message about the 2nd war coming to a close.

    And finally, it is of utmost importance that "the graveyard of empires", as Afghanistan is commonly called, gets a real chance, by a real superpower, to rebuild itself.