Obama’s Campaign About Nothing

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

When an incumbent president runs for reelection, he usually runs on his record. But an unsuccessful incumbent runs from his record. It is no surprise, then, that the Obama campaign is devoid of substance — that the 2008 candidate of “hope and change” has become the president of hype and blame.

Last week, President Barack Obama’s campaign officials announced on a conference call the first “official” campaign stops of the 2012 race. There was, however, something notably absent from their discussion: a positive rationale for Obama’s candidacy.

The omission was revealing: Obama’s campaign is about nothing.

Instead of running on the issues Americans care about, the president has committed to running on an assortment of diversions.

He’s tried division. With his Buffett Tax, he spent weeks — and a great deal of taxpayer money — waging class warfare, in a cynical attempt to pit groups of Americans against each other. But his justification for the Buffett Tax changes almost weekly — proving it’s nothing more than a rudimentary political wedge.

It requires a special kind audacity to sow the seeds of division to reap political rewards. This is America, after all, where we still believe that “united we stand, divided we fall.” The president would do well to heed that maxim.

When division doesn’t work, Obama tries distraction. He ignores his failures on jobs and the economy and latches on to things like a college loan program he did not even bother to vote on as a senator.

Notably, this program did not warrant his attention until his poll numbers started slipping among young voters. So he set off on Air Force One on a tour of battleground state college campuses.

Again, it does not take much to figure out his motivations. College rallies hardly seem like “official business.” Neither does “slow jamming the news” on late night TV — as the president did last week.

But when division and distraction fail, Obama still refuses to take responsibility for the weak economy, high unemployment or massive government debt. Instead, he faults others. He has blamed his failures on a Japanese earthquake, ATMs, the Arab Spring, airport kiosks and even “bad luck.”

That the president would resort to these tactics— which he had decried in the 2008 campaign—proves he knows he has failed.

If he had anything resembling a successful record, he would run on that. He would accept the fact that this election is a referendum on his policies.

Instead, his campaign is frantically searching for a catchphrase, a slogan—anything to make sure that struggling Americans forget about the pain of the Obama presidency.

Campaign officials have not found one — though not for lack of trying. In March, the Democratic National Committee and Obama for America spent a whopping $1.4 million on polling, presumably in pursuit of a new theme for their unfocused campaign.

Meanwhile, families across the country are struggling. It’s hard to find a job and harder to pay the bills. Wages are shrinking, prices are rising. Young people and college graduates put their futures on hold.

To make the election about anything other than the economy is an insult to the millions of hurting families in America. To trivialize the decision we face in November with distractions and division is callously self-serving. There’s no excuse for it.

Obama promised four years ago to be a transformative president—a post-partisan, selfless leader. Now he’s proven to be a hyper-partisan, selfish politician.

From now till Election Day, we can expect the president’s behavior to get worse. He’ll demagogue the pettiest subjects, he’ll pretend he was not president for the last three and a half years and he’ll attack his opponents more viciously.

As even liberal stalwart Chris Matthews has said, “When presidents attack challengers they look scared by definition, anyway; because they should run on their records.” For once, I agree with Matthews: The president is running scared.

So with the president running a campaign about nothing, it’s clear “we are the change we’ve been waiting for” was not a philosophy. It was a poll-tested slogan.

Obama’s promises to fix the economy, reform Washington, ban lobbyists from the White House, and cut spending all have been carelessly discarded.

So in November, voters will face a surprisingly clear choice: Do they like high unemployment, irresponsible government, skyrocketing gas prices and diminished opportunity? Or do they want a new direction?

We are not better off thanks to Obama. Which leaves him with zero justification for a second term.

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