If Mitt Romney’s pandering attack on public broadcasting was the latest example of the weathervane who will say anything to get elected, Barack Obama’s condescending new negative ad is the latest example of a campaign that at this moment offers no coherent narrative about why the president should be given a second term. In my column on Monday, about Obama’s debate mission, I tried to offer such a narrative.
The president has a good case to make and a potentially powerful narrative to offer. The jobless rate has fallen to 7.8 percent and will be much lower next year. The housing industry is beginning a real recovery. Consumer confidence has risen significantly. The value of 401(k) plans has risen substantially. Major companies from Macy’s to Wal-Mart have announced significant holiday hiring, which will be above last year’s on a national basis. Why does the Obama campaign treat these gains as though they are classified information?
There was, and remains, some role for negative television ads. However, as debates continue and the campaign approaches its closing days, the president must do more than spend millions of dollars saying Mitt Romney is no good. Obama’s campaign has been a one-note song, which is now off-key.
The president can and should criticize Romney about public broadcasting cuts Romney has proposed. But Obama should cut out the too-clever, too-cunning, too-condescending attitude and tone, which is what got him into trouble in the first debate. Big Bird should be fiercely defended, but the Big Bird ad should be quickly dumped.
The Obama surge after his convention proved the point that the biggest weapon that Obama has, by far, is the powerful and credible support of former President Bill Clinton. That is why Bill Clinton starred at the Democratic convention while George W. Bush was missing at the Republican convention.
I suggest again: President Obama can and should say, before the election, that he will bring Bill Clinton into the center of economic policy, after the election, to help broker the mega-deal in Washington to end the gridlock, avoid the fiscal cliff, create even more jobs and give a rocket boost to the economy. No less than former Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) has written, here in The Hill, in an important column, about the potential of President Clinton to help break the gridlock.
The president should fight to the end to defend Big Bird, but if he wants to be reelected he should stand as close as possible to Bill Clinton. Obama should tell his story, and offer his narrative, about why people’s lives have gotten better in the first Obama term, which they have, and will get even better in a second Obama term, which they will.
Posted: Tuesday, 9 October 2012