June 5, 2012

Is Obama playing possum?

Roadkill or just a clever trap?
No donors. Momentum has become Nomentum. Every piece of news is seemingly going against the president of late. The Wisconsin recall election is likely to break for Walker and that bodes poorly for the president too. Is the Obama campaign really this bad? Are they really this far off the rails? Quite possibly yes. Or is it possible they are playing just possum? Yeah, that also is possible.

The president won in 2008 as an underdog. His improbable defeat of Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary practically ensured he had enough momentum to defeat senator McCain in the fall. The conventional wisdom is that while 2012 is not 2008, the president needs to recapture the spirit of 2008 with his base in order to win. The conventional wisdom is that he can't do that with his own incumbency staring in the face of his outsider/underdog/agent of change motif.

That is, unless Romney takes a commanding lead early on - but not so commanding as to preclude an Obama comeback. That seems like a dangerous game to play. It's far too risky but the president really is facing the headwinds that he claims have befuddled his plan for America's recovery. So the come-from-behind story line may be his best shot at winning this time around.

Running against a seemingly unbeatable opponent AND a supposedly do-nothing congress has to make Obama seem like the champion of the little guy. He's the David to Romney's Goliath. Of course that's the same Goliath that they were dismissively laughing at two months ago.

It's possible the president is playing possum and won't come out swinging until August. Maybe the donors will suddenly start coming around. Maybe Van Jones and the 99% will suddenly become an effective force for change rather than a bunch of dirty rabble camped out in a park.

While I'm not one to count my chickens before they hatch and I'm in no way thinking Romney has this sewn up, I really doubt that the president is clever enough to come up with such a risky strategy that could still give him a chance to win. Nor am I convinced that Obama is dumb enough that presented with that strategy would act upon it. But by the same token, I'm not convinced that if there is no other foreseeable path to victory, the president wouldn't be willing to give it a shot.

It's better to try to defeat the president by assuming that every step of the way he is in the fight and trying his damnedest to win. Letting up for a second would be a huge mistake. Luckily team Romney seem to be on top of things right now.  If they stay that way, the question could increasingly become "What is Romnomics going to look like?"

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