Friday, August 12, 2011

“Give ’em hell, Barry!” Part 2

The Republican controlled Congress has brought the country to the brink of disaster. In Part 1, of this post, I argued that the clear path to victory for Barak Obama is to ignore the Republican nominee and run against Congress the way Harry S Truman did in 1948, earning for himself a second term and a place in history as one of the greatest upset victors in history.

As usual, the President does not seem to be taking my advice. I would not find this surprising in and of itself, but for the fact that Obama is such a smart man that I would have figured him to come to this on his own.

Instead, the President is said to be preparing a campaign that capitalizes on Romney’s shortcomings. People think Romney is weird. His business experience consists of buying companies, firing employees and selling the companies in parts – hardly the resume you want if the country is clamoring for jobs creation. Romney-care was the template for Obama-care, et cetera, ad nauseum.

Will it work? People hate negative campaigning but the fact is that it works, especially if the candidate isn’t perceived as the first one to go negative. But in the case of Obama there are special circumstances. First, as an incumbent, negative campaigning may be perceived as infra dig. Second, it is so counter to the President’s persona, as we have come to know it, that it may appear to be desperation. Beyond that, given Obama’s personality, whether or not he could pull it off is a fair question. Finally, there will be plenty of surrogates available to remind the public of why we don’t like Romney, and the question is what should the President do. What I have proposed is not inimical to surrogates attacking Romney.

But what would it look like if the President followed the advice of Big Mitch, and patterned his campaign after the 1948 campaign of President Truman? Let's take a look.
Harry Truman called a special session of Congress known as the Turnip Day session during his 1948 presidential campaign. The Research Division of the Democratic National Committee came up with the idea as a way to dramatize the differences between the Republican platform and the performance of the Republican Congress. The special session of Congress, which began on the day known as “Turnip Day” in Missouri, proved to be an effective strategy in Truman's campaign.
Batt, William L., Jr., Origin of the 1948 Turnip Day Session of Congress (Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol 29 No 1 March 1999)

Today, in Michigan the President addressed factory workers. Here’s some of what he said:
You know, in the aftermath of this whole debt ceiling debacle, and when the markets going up and down like they are, there’s been a lot of talk in Washington right now that I should call Congress back early. The last thing we need is Congress spending more time arguing in D.C. (Applause.) What I figure is, they need to spend more time out here listening to you and hearing how fed up you are. (Applause.) That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’ll be traveling to a lot of communities like this one over the next week. That’s what Congress should be doing -- go back home, listen to people’s frustrations with all the gridlock. Listen to how frustrated folks are with the constant bickering and the unwillingness to compromise and the desire to score points, even if it’s at the expense of our country. And if they’re listening hard enough, maybe they’ll come back to Washington ready to compromise and ready to create jobs and ready to reduce our deficit -- ready to do what you sent them there to do.
Maybe he is just ignoring my advice. Or maybe he is laying the ground work for a call to convene Congress next summer. You know what they say in Missouri,
On the twenty-fifth of July, Sow your turnips, wet or dry...

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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