SHELL GAMES

Politics is what it is—a game of perception. It should be clear to everyone at this time that Barack Obama has little to run on going forward, and still the polls are neck-a-neck. He ran on change—transparency, Guantanamo, nixing lobbyists, unification, economic rebound, and all have failed to materialize. Arguably his biggest accomplishment, health care reform, is viewed by more than half of the electorate as a disaster in evolution. So, if you can’t run on your record, you attack your opponent’s true or perceived negatives; distraction is your ally.

Romney presents somewhat of a problem, however. While conservative opponents in the primary months attacked him as being a moderate, this won’t work for Obama’s team. Instead, they have to dredge up all the old conservative stereotypes: anti-poor, anti-women, anti-gay, pro-pollution. Among true believers, it works. Among true believers, it doesn’t matter—it’s the undecideds, the independents that have to be convinced. So they look for dirt. Here’s the challenge for the Democrat party: Romney’s been such a straight arrow that they’ve had to go all the way back to high school when he allegedly was involved in a bullying episode! Election over—Obama 1, Romney 0.

Kidding aside, if you believe character matters, a revealing story about Romney made the rounds not long ago in a paid political ad and on the Internet that has been vetted by Snopes. In 1996, when he was founder and managing partner at Bain Capital, Romney played a central role in organizing a major effort to find a partner’s daughter, going so far as to close the company and fly 50 employees to New York. He is quoted as saying at the time, “Our children are what life is all about. Everything else takes a back seat.”

Let’s look beyond the distractions to the candidates’ characters and the issues. Let’s get the divisive social issues such as abortion and gay marriage off the federal platforms and ship them back to the states, so we can focus on making the country healthy again.

The only one who wins in a shell game is the person shuffling the shells.

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2 Responses to “SHELL GAMES”

  1. Sue Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more:

    Let’s get the divisive social issues such as abortion and gay marriage off the federal platforms and ship them back to the states, so we can focus on making the country healthy again.

    …then how do you get the evangelicals and Catholics to vote Republican?

  2. Sue Says:

    and as Bruni noted:

    the extent to which Romney continues to hold back will have enormous consequence for the Republican Party’s destiny.

    Within its uppermost ranks are many champions of small government who squirm at the small-mindedness of the scowling theocrats in an increasingly uneasy coalition. These fiscal conservatives take advantage of the religious right’s political muscle but have reservations about its hectoring piety, and their own views on social issues are often moderate or somewhat liberal.

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