September 10, 2012 by E. Cooper Ostresh
Just as there have been many divisions erupt on the left, so too have there been many cracks visible in the Republican Coalition. These divisions act as a basis from which Democrats can, and should, attack. To this point many of the divisions on the right became apparent in the particularly long and drawn out Republican Primary and with the conclusion of that, the Obama Campaign has begun exploiting many of these divisions. That said, more can and should be done before this campaign is over.
The Bain attacks were a continuation of attack lines that were begun during the primary. I have already mentioned why we shouldn’t criticize this attack and now that it is beginning to show results, the wisdom of this strategy is becoming apparent. Other wedge issues that surfaced during the primary should also be revisited. The “War on Women,” Mitt’s strong anti-immigration rhetoric, the House’s lack of action on jobs bills, and the court’s stance on several key issues are all wedge issues that Republicans have walked into entirely of their own accord. It is not that each of these issues have not caught some airtime in the main stream media outlets but much of the sustainment of these wedge issues have existed largely within the liberal media circles. These issues dominate the mainstream media only as they happen. For one or two news cycles they are bantered about in all spheres of the media and then everyone in the mainstream media moves on to other, fresher topics. Liberals need to realize that they are trying to sell their case to a largely apathetic mob that is more likely to watch American Idol than the news, especially liberal news outlets. It is vitally important that these wedge issues are kept alive in the main stream press.
To get the message of these out and to keep these mistakes cogent requires one of two things. First is advertizing, but facing the political juggernaut of the Romney Super Pac machine, I think it is fair to say that you will need more than just ads to keep these themes fresh. The next option is controversy. This usually comes about when someone makes a gaff. Now we can’t always hope for the opposition to make gaffs but when they do be ready to pounce on it. Another way of creating this controversy is with carefully crafted gaffs of your own; i.e., gaffs that are really only gaffs when played in a sound bite. Enough of a statement to set the blogoshphere ablaze but when the comment is analyzed in its full context becomes less shocking and inadvertently draws attention back to a specific issue you want highlighted in the main stream outlets.
A good example would be the Hilary Rosen gaff. Rosen was not an official surrogate and thus it was easy for the administration to condemn her comments and distance themselves from her. When you heard the sound bite it was bad but when you heard her comments in full it was more clear the point she was trying to make. Furthermore, Mitt Romney himself had indicated in a town hall that he felt single poor mothers should still work. Now Rosen’s comments, coming at the time they did, did not help the campaign because it pulled the moral high ground away from the “War on Women” attacks that were going on at the time. However, were it to have been made now, when the focus has shifted back to health care and the economy, there would be the initial outcry but it could lead to a deeper discussion of the issue. Once you get the “War on Women” issue back in the spotlight it is an issue the Democrats will win on in the end.
The concept is essentially a decoy attack. Once the opposition commits its main force on what they think is easy pickings then you can hit them from the flank. Give up a city in order to take a province. I propose this merely as a way of getting free air time in mainstream media outlets.
Perhaps the strongest attack line that Democrats should be considering is the issue of race. This has been addressed by most liberal pundits but as of yet hasn’t been fully exploited in my opinion. Perhaps it is our nation’s discomfort with the topic or perhaps it is the fear that the discussion will alienate some white voters. Here is a dose of reality for Democrats. The vast majority of white males who won’t be voting for Obama probably are racist at least to some degree. So trying not to offend this constituency will likely have little effect. But a well orchestrated attack that draws more attention to the actions of the Republicans, and let’s face it they are a fairly racist group of Republicans, could help shore up and further drive wedges in constituencies that the Democrats hope to win. Educated white males already lean towards Obama. I am from that constituency and I can say that one thing I don’t want to consider myself is racist. Were I to get the impression that the Republicans were running a racist campaign, that would be a turn off for me. Because I am on the left, I think the Republicans are running a racist campaign. The trick is to convince middle of the road, educated whites that the Republicans are fueling their campaign with race hate. It is worth splitting off more of this constituency even if it means ruffling the feathers of white males who already are racist. Women, Latino, gays and lesbians are also groups whose support could further be shorn up if Mitt Romney was successfully saddled with the chains of a racist campaign. The Republicans over the last three and a half years have shown a consistent lack of respect for the presidency and the man who occupies it. Make them pay for that.
Regardless of the specific wedge issues liberals choose to exploit and by what manner they choose to exploit them now is the time to begin the barrage. In their quest to unseat Barak Obama ,the right has made a few critical mistakes. These mistakes can and should be exploited.