Is attacking Mitt Romney's management of Bain Capital really the best that Team Obama can come up with? They must think so, given the time and money they have been devoting to demonizing Romney with ad hominem TV attack ads and talking points distributed to their many media allies. Do they really think this line of attack about relatively trivial details of when Romney left the company and when and how many jobs were gained or lost in what countries will matter a great deal to voters who are out of work in November? No, they do not think that at all.
But they do think demonizing Romney as a person helps them to hold on to some of the Obama base from 2008. Is that a smart strategy? No, but it is the only one they've got right now and it is the same delusional strategy that failed in the 2010 elections for the U.S. House of Representatives when Democrats lost their majority by a wide margin. The difference this time is that unlike 2010, Obama's own name is on the ballot this year and he can be directly held accountable for the failures of his own aministration rather than by a proxy vote that punished members of his party in 2010.
The Obama campaign organization fully understands they cannot afford to play by the normal rules of a mid-term re-election campaign for an incumbent president. They cannot let the national vote set for Nov. 6 be a referendum on Obama's record in office since his inauguration on January 20, 2009. For most of American history, almost every re-election campaign for any incumbent president is always a referendum on the first term but If Obama's failed record and high unemployment is the issue on the minds of most voters on Nov. 6, Obama cannot win. Mitt Romney does not have to run a brilliant campaign to win, he only needs to be a credible alternative to Obama when voters want a change. But the Obama campaign team wants to pretend that 2012 is still 2008 and they can re-create the unique 2008 campaign in a different year.
In short, the Obama campaign still thinks, as they did in 2010, that they can make the election about a choice between competing qulifications for office and competing visions for the future of the country. That is normally a good strategy for a year in which there is no incumbent on the ballot such as Bush 41 vs. Dukakis in 1988 or Obama vs. McCain in 2008. But for the first time in his political career, Obama now has to play a little defense if Romney can effectively remind voters of the wild claims of Obama in 2009 that his $787 billion stimulis plan would help create enough jobs to bring the unemployment rate below 8 percent. By the standards that Obama set for himself in 2009, his economic policies have failed to improve the economy. Romney's main job is to remind voters of what Obama promised in 2009 and what he failed to deliver. Most voters have enough common sense to be skeptical of Obama claims that he saved or imagined that he saved jobs that would otherwise have been lost. Besides, Obama did not promise to save public sector jobs, he promised to bring back private sector jobs and that has not happened. Milliions of discouraged workers who have been out of work more than a year are leaving the labor force and are not being replaced by new workers looking for jobs and still the unemployment number has not gone down.
The role of Mitt Romney during his active period of running Bain Capital before he left to run the 2000 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City is a very complex story that even financial writers have not been able to completely sort out. But Obama wants people to believe that Mitt Romney was so personally greedy or malicious that he enjoyed seeing workers lose their jobs to boost the profits of Bain. Does that characterization really pass the credibility test? Maybe it does in the crazoid world of the far Left Wing, but not in the real world. If Obama cannot show real progress in bringing down the unemployment rate by Nov. 6, he is going to lose and voters will not care that much about trivial matters such as Romney's tenure at Bain Capital.