A distraction we don’t need
- Last Updated: 11:12 PM, May 17, 2012
- Posted: 10:46 PM, May 17, 2012
Yesterday’s breathless campaign hysteria arose out of a not-really-much-of-a-scoop from the broadsheet across town: A rich guy in Omaha wants to spend a lot of money defeating Barack Obama.
Stop the presses. Eek.
Said rich guy sought the advice of a controversial consultant (who’d very much benefit from getting the rich guy’s commission) on a strategy. The consultant proposed reviving the 2008 controversy over Obama’s relationship with his egregious pastor, Jeremiah Wright.
You’d have thought, from the mainstream-media tweets yesterday morning, that the mere act of mentioning Obama and Wright in the same breath was nothing less than a hate crime in itself. How dare anyone mention the president in the same breath as the anti-American demagogue who officiated at his wedding, baptized his children and gave him the title of his second book.
For those of us who enjoy seeing such folk sputter and squirm, the idea of a Wright attack against Obama instantly seemed rather piquant. But it only took a moment’s reflection to see how senseless and even stupid such an approach would be.
First, the sheer quantity of facts and figures and issues from Obama’s actual presidency that can be used to argue against a second term are far more devastating.
There’s little point in going after Obama for what someone else said in his earshot years ago, when so many damning things have come out of his own mouth since he became president in 2009.
The trick for Republicans in 2012 is to keep the voter’s eye on Obama’s record as president. If they can do this well and authoritatively, while Mitt Romney offers a positive vision of a post-Obama America, they’ll almost surely win the day.
Obama’s record will allow Republicans to make this a fight about policy, not about personality — about what he has done rather than imputations about what he thinks and what he secretly believes. That’s not only better for the country, it is better politics.
Yes, an aggressive strategy raising important issues from 2008 that got flattened by the Obama steamroller seems immensely alluring to some — that is, to a great many people who can’t get over the fact that America put its fate in the hands of a neophyte Leftie with no record and an effective speaking style.
The impotent rage generated by Obama’s improbable rise has caused many seemingly rational people to seek comfort in all kinds of weird theories to account for his out-of-nowhere triumph.
There’s the birther lunacy, according to which the president wasn’t born on American soil.
There’s the “Obama didn’t write his own book” theory, according to which “Dreams from My Father” was secretly produced by the domestic terrorist William Ayers — whose own turgid writings bear not a trace of the overwrought lyricism of “Dreams” and who had no reason to ghost the memoir of an unknown Harvard Law man. (The latest twist: One leading “ghoster” even says Obama didn’t write the incredibly pretentious post-collegiate letters he sent to his girlfriend.)
Then there’s the “secret Muslim” theory, according to which a man who openly says he attended an Islamic school in Indonesia actually follows the faith of the father he barely knew — which would make his 20 years in Jeremiah Wright’s pew quite puzzling, now, wouldn’t it?
These ludicrous blatherings have this in common: They all seem to suggest that Obama’s life has been some kind of Leftist-Marxist-Islamist laboratory experiment designed from birth to land him in the White House.
If that were true, we should all just give up now. The geniuses who figured out that a mixed-race kid in Hawaii partly raised in Indonesia with the middle name of Hussein would be the perfect presidential candidate in 2008 must have had supernatural abilities to mind-read an entire society four decades later. If they’re that good, they can have America.
Sure, reminding people of Obama’s willingness to tolerate Wright’s disgusting views is perfectly fair. It’s just a worthless political strategy. Which is what the rich guy in question decided yesterday in announcing he’d rejected the proposal from his consultant.
That consultant, by the way, is the guy who came up with the worst political commercial in recent history — the one in which Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell offered the jaw-dropping assurance to the people of Delaware that she was not a witch.
Smart move, rich guy.
CORRECTION: In Tuesday’s column about an Obama attack ad about Mitt Romney and the closure of a Kansas City steel plant, I erroneously wrote that leading Obama fund-raiser Jonathan Lavine, an employee of the firm for which Romney had formerly worked, had been in charge of the plant when it declared bankruptcy. I regret the error.Follow @NYPostOpinion