The swiftboating of John Kerry, I guess, wasn’t a total loss. Sure, we lost the election because of it, but we learned a thing or two in the process. Most importantly, we learned from Karl Rove that, if you really want to destroy a man, it isn’t enough to just go after him where he’s vulnerable. No, if you really want to destroy a man, at least in the world of electoral politics, you have to find a way to take his most significant positive attribute, and transform it into a millstone around his neck. In 2004, with the country at war, it seemed like a given that John Kerry, who had earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam, would do well against George Bush, a draft-dodging frat boy who, evidence seems to indicate, had his well-connected father pull a few strings in order to keep him out of harm’s way. On the face of it, it seemed like a given that Kerry would obliterate the cowardly, perpetually-vacationing son of privilege who repeatedly neglected to act on intelligence concerning bin Laden’s plans to strike within America. But, that’s not what happened. Instead, Americans, through the work of Karl Rove and others, began to perceive Kerry, who volunteered to go to war, and led men in battle, as a pathetic coward, who went so far as to exaggerate the severity of the minor wounds that he received, in order to hasten his discharge from the military. They’d taken what should have been his most powerful asset – the fact that he was a hero who had saved men’s lives in battle – and called it into question… And that’s exactly what the Democrats are doing now to Mitt Romney. They’re taking his, “I’m a successful business man, and therefore qualified to take over this underperforming economy” line, and they’re poking him in the eye with it, repeatedly… Here, if you haven’t see it, is Obama’s most recent ad, which was released yesterday.
And, that, my friends, is how you win an election…
How great was the, “He’s not the solution, he’s the problem” line?
It also helps, of course, that every bit of it is true, unlike the bullshit anonymously pushed across the airwaves against John Kerry. As much as Romney would like to rewrite history, and say that the worse of Bain Capital’s offenses took place after he left, that’s just not the case. As much as he’d like to convince people that he’d retired from Bain in 1999, before the firm got heavily into the business of moving their portfolio companies from America to countries with cheaper labor, the facts indicate otherwise. In fact, SEC filings just came to light a few days ago, that show Romney was still a Managing Director in 2002. So, try as he might to sell himself as a businessman who created jobs in America, it would appear that it’s not going to fly. (He may have created wealth for a few, but he did not create American jobs in the process. He destroyed them.) And it’s certainly not helping that, every day, it seems as though a new off-shore account is found with ties to Romney. The Republicans, however, have been trying to mitigate the damage, and put a positive spin on it. Most recently, Republican Senator Lindsey Grahamn, trying to defend the indefensible, said, “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes.” Fortunately, however, it would seem that the Republicans haven’t been able to hold that ridiculous line. This weekend, a number of prominent Republicans began to ask that Romney do the right thing and release all of his financial records, making a clean breast of it. At the National Governors Association meeting a few days ago, Alabama’s Republican Governor, Robert Bentley, said, “If you have things to hide, then maybe you’re doing things wrong… I think you ought to be willing to release everything to the American people.”
Try as he might, it doesn’t look as though Romney is going to be able to get away from it… And, as a result, his central message is crumbling at his feet. No longer is he the successful businessman who can solve all of our problems. Instead, he’s the man who exemplifies all that’s wrong with corporate America. He’s become the personification of the corporate greed that is bleeding our communities dry. In the words of White House senior advisor David Axelrod, “I’m not suggesting that (Romney has done anything illegal). But what I am suggesting is that he’s taken advantage of every single conceivable tax shelter and loophole that we can see.” And, in my opinion, unless Obama does something truly terrible between now and November, Romney doesn’t have a chance of recovering. Obama has defined him, and it’s stuck… And this is just beginning. One just hopes that he begins to taint the other Republicans running in November as well.
In case anyone from Obama’s campaign is reading this, I have the next Romney attack ad all worked out. Here it is in a nutshell. It would begin with footage of Romney telling members of the NAACP that black people need to stop looking for “free stuff”, and end with the scan of his 2010 tax filings, showing that he received a $77,000 tax deduction for having a “dancing horse”. And, the best part is, the soundtrack is already written, thanks to Echo and the Bunnymen.