Sad story of a wasted ‘cam­paign’

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Sol W. San­ders

For those of us who op­posed the re-elec­tion of the Pres­i­dent pre­cisely for his an­nounced ef­fort “to trans­form” Amer­ica into some­thing tradition had never fa­vored, there has been an even deeper and trou­bling elec­tion re­sult.

Most of the post-elec­tion blather has been just that. Exit-polling has al­ways been ex­tremely un­re­li­able and much pseudo-in­tel­lec­tu­al­ized and of­ten fact-free pon­tif­i­cat­ing has been based on it. [Republicans, con­ser­va­tives, and ”pri­vate per­sons” — in­clud­ing yours truly — no­to­ri­ously refuse to talk to the young lady with the clip­board as they rush home from the polling booth.]

What passes for “anal­y­sis” is more of­ten than not ei­ther apolo­gia for wrong pre­dic­tions or jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for slo­gans which may or may not have had any­thing to do with Mr. Obama’s vic­tory. Long af­ter all this post-elec­tion hys­te­ria has died away, his­to­ri­ans will see an­other set of facts. Nev­er­the­less, buoyed by a cloy­ing me­dia, con­ven­tional lib­eral or­tho­doxy has al­ready en­shrined some post-elec­tion clichés, as false as much of their pre-elec­tion pro­pa­ganda.

No, Vir­ginia, it was not de­cided by the ris­ing tide of Demo­cratic cap­tured mi­nori­ties. [Texas has just elected an out­stand­ing slate of Span­ish­s­peak­ing Repub­li­can of­fice­hold­ers at both the state and fed­eral level and there are two GOP gov­er­nors with His­panic names.]

No, it was not charisma of the Demo­cratic can­di­date. [Barack Obama’s adu­la­tion wore thin in 2012 even among his acolytes.]

No, it was not Repub­li­can ob­struc­tion­ism of the Pres­i­dent’s pro­gram in the Congress. [All prom­i­nent House Republicans re­tained their seats, their loss may not be more than a half dozen seats with a con­tin­u­ing Repub­li­can lock. In the Se­nate, de­spite their five-seat loss, con­ser­va­tive Democrats will continue to flirt with Republicans in op­po­si­tion to Mr. Obama’s eco­nomic pro­gram. That’s why Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid has not pro­duced a bud­get in three and a half years and why the Pres­i­dent’s lat­est prof­fer was re­jected 90 to 0.]

No, it was not Gov. Rom­ney’s poi­sonous per­son­al­ity. [He played out his role as Big Daddy as well as such a strat­egy de­manded al­though tac­ti­cally he might have erred by be­ing “de­cent”.] if he had won. Shat­ter­ing an­other of those mantras by the talk­ing heads, there was no great con­test for the un­de­cided, in­de­pen­dents, etc. It was from start to fin­ish a fight to mo­bi­lize the bases.

And that, it seems to this writer, is where the bad news be­gins. It was a con­test of process not of ideas. The Obama camp won be­cause they never aban­doned their 2008 cam-

There was no great con­test for the un­de­cided, in­de­pen­dents, etc. It was from start to fin­ish a fight to mo­bi­lize the bases.

No, the sad news is de­spite all the prom­ise of in­creas­ingly de­fined, di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed ap­proaches to the na­tion’s prob­lems, the ap­po­si­tion re­sulted in lit­tle real dis­cus­sion. De­spite, again, de­fy­ing the shib­bo­leth de­bates are mean­ing­less; com­ing close to a real ex­change of ideas in the sec­ond de­bate was sab­o­taged by the mud­dled and prej­u­di­cial fifth­wheel mod­er­a­tors.

The Pres­i­dent never pre­sented a pro­gram, and Gov. Rom­ney, hop­ing to fi­nesse vic­tory, did not lay out “so­lu­tions” re­quir­ing ex­ten­sive ne­go­ti­a­tion paign struc­ture, but in­stead bore down on its data bases all dur­ing the First Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The Pres­i­dent threw his fol­low­ing a bone once in a while avoid­ing ex­pos­ing him­self to the pit­falls of lead­er­ship thus keep­ing his cam­paign ap­pa­ra­tus in­tact. Im­pov­er­ished in­tel­lec­tu­ally and be­hind the time curve be­cause of en­ergy ex­pended in the Repub­li­can pri­maries, the Gover­nor’s ma­chine was never a match. The very fact the Pres­i­dent had three times the re­gional com­mand posts was the give­away.

Sadly, again I say in a very sub­jec­tive way, the Obama cam­paign was able to, painstak­ingly iden­tify its vot­ers, and march them to the polls. There were loy­al­ties, of course — some youth­ful new vot­ers who live off late-night shows saw a Pres­i­dent for the first time talk­ing their rather mean­ing­less gab­ble. African-Amer­i­cans, fur­ther im­pov­er­ished by his very eco­nomic poli­cies, nev­er­the­less trooped out in tribal loy­alty in cru­cial ar­eas such as Tide­wa­ter Vir­ginia to join their strange com­rades in arms, the pam­pered gov­ern­ment bu­reau­crats liv­ing across the river in north­ern Vir­ginia.

But, mainly, al­though it could not pro­duce the en­thu­si­asm of the 2008 cru­sade, a new kind of po­lit­i­cal ma­chine pow­ered by the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion re­placed the al­most for­got­ten old door-to-door visitations and tur­key-on-Thanks­giv­ing tac­tics of for­mer big city ma­chines.

It can­not but be a sad com­men­tary on the Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal process. Data banks have re­placed ward heel­ers. Sol W. San­ders, (sol­sanders@ cox.net), writes the ‘Fol­low the Money’ col­umn for The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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