It seems that the Obama campaign has fooled the Republicans once again: everyone thought that the president's campaign would wrap Romney with the flip-flopper cloth, but it appears that they are actually following the strategy of not letting Romney out of the radical right corner he's backed himself into. There's a lot of political postulation as to the merits of this strategy - some say it's the right thing to do; others say that the President's campaign should have stuck with the flip-flopper label. After all, George W. Bush hung that rope around John Kerry's neck pretty effectively in 2004. But really, the media is missing the boat a little, by oversimplifying a lot.
First, President Obama, of course, isn't the one painting Romney as ultra conservative. Mitt Romney painted Mitt Romney as an ultraconservative.
All the Obama campaign is doing is blocking Mitt Romney's escape from the radical Right corner Mitt Romney has painted himself into.
I tend to believe that the president's strategy is brilliant for two reasons: first, no one who isn't already in the bag for Mitt Romney actually believes for a moment that Mitt Romney has a core. That Mitt Romney will do and say anything in his political interest of the time is a settled truth. I see no reason why the Obama campaign needs to spend seven months establishing in the public mind what is already established. Believe it or not, it is not necessary that one has a core in order to pander to far right. What the Obama campaign is trying to show is that Mitt Romney - and his party - have been pulled too far out of the American mainstream, and, if elected, they will continue that wave, not because Mitt Romney really believes in anything, but because it will be in his political interest to do so.
And therein lies the much deeper, broader, brilliant strategic reason why the Obama campaign chose this narrative of Mitt Romney - the severe right wing panderer.
The strategic brilliance behind it, I believe, goes well beyond Mitt Romney as a candidate for President. It goes even beyond the 2012 election. But in the context of the 2012 election, the strategy is about two things: making Mitt Romney own the fringe radical right movement, and expose the Republican party for their radical agenda. You cannot do that in a presidential election year without marrying the nominee to his party's extremism. And Mitt Romney has stepped into it pretty good by going out of his way to embrace crazy, whacked up right wing positions like:
- Forcing women to carry the children of their rapists
- Defunding Planned Parenthood, the medical organization responsible for millions of female cancer screening every year.
- Handing women's most private, medical decisions off to their bosses.
- Forcing women to go through medically unnecessary procedures and state mandated propaganda should they choose to avail themselves to the legal medical procedure of an abortion. In case, you know, women seeking abortions might not be aware that they're pregnant.
- Killing Medicare (Ryan budget)
- Ending the social safety net. (embrace of Ryan budget)
- Nearly zeroing out Pell grants (embrace of Ryan budget)
- Stealing food from 236 hungry families and children in order to fund the average millionaire's tax break.
- Belittling the military service of gay soldiers by forcing them to hide their identity.
- Demanding we let the American auto industry go bankrupt
- Demanding that undocumented immigrants "self-deport," and refusing American opportunities to children who work hard and get to college or serve our country in the military but are undocumented through no fault of their own, not to mention referring to Arizona's Papers Please law as a model legislation.
- Eliminating federal housing assistance.
But this isn't just about beating Mitt Romney. This is about defeating the radical conservative philosophy of government: the philosophy that belies the social compact that is America, the philosophy that insists that 'freedom' is a concept that is open to corporations, employers, and the Church, but not the individual, and a the philosophy that looks to shape a society where the government controls the private sexual conduct of its citizens but its corporations are free to defraud their customers. It's the radical conservative vision that Romney has pandered to throughout his 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Our fight is far more against this radical social Darwinism than it is about Mitt Romney the radical panderer. The election of 2012 is about whether the progress we have made in the last century is at risk. It's about whether women can be free to control their own lives and their own medical decisions. It's about whether we, as a society, will invest in students, in parents, in small businesses, in consumer protection. It is about whether we will stand with American workers or American aristocrats. It is about whether a millionaire's tax cut is more important to us than food for hundreds of children. It's about whether who we love should be a question before our service to the country we love. It's about whether racial profiling and harassment should be sanctioned by law. It is about whether we will accept responsibility for each other and protect the social safety net. It is, literally about what kind of country we will have.
President Obama has said this all along: this election is a choice between the far right radical philosophy of government embraced by Mitt Romney vs. one in which common good and social responsibility sustain individual freedoms. He has always said it would be a battle, much more, of those two visions, than two candidates.
That is the real choice. And that is what President Obama wants to frame this election with. His campaign is not choosing to stop Mitt Romney from escaping the severely radical corner he's painted himself into because it's a better campaign slogan to call Mitt Romney a radical than to call him a flip-floppper. His campaign is keeping Mitt Romney into that corner because once and for all, we need to choose what we want the future of this country to look like.