Elections are less likely to be decided by debates than by a handful of images engraved in voters' minds. The possibility persists that President Obama might win this battle of images -- and thus the election -- by relentlessly depicting Mitt Romney as rich, out of touch, and uncaring, a caricature amplified by endless repetition of Romney's "47 percent" tape by the Obama campaign, with ample help from his devoted media.
On September 25, for example, long after it was news, all three networks reported on how the damaging video simply won't go away (no doubt because they won't stop showing it). They magnified its effect in various ways:
showing Obama mocking Romney's comment in a speech, showing Romney being interrogated about it, and reporting that Obama ads about the video are being run in swing states as an excuse to show it yet again. The media's brazenness reached a new level when, a mere hour after the October 3 debate, Nightline showed the video repeatedly, no doubt having expected Obama to have mentioned it. The next day, the NBC, ABC, NBC, and PBS evening news featured the Romney tape in reporting the "news" that Obama surprisingly had not brought it up. (Romney's recent declaration that his comment was "completely wrong" is unlikely to make a difference in coverage by a media that is determined to defeat him.)
Yet the attacks can be overcome, and the media filter can be bypassed. Just as Romney's use of ruthlessly negative ads knocked Gingrich and Santorum out of the primaries, defeating Obama requires countering the 47 percent video with far more devastating tapes in which Obama has been revealed as radical, untrustworthy, and two-faced.
At the top of the list is the chilling video of Obama whispering secret assurances of future flexibility to former Russian President Medvedev. This alone could decide the election, confirming what would be dismissed as hyperbolic "conspiracy theory" if it were not caught on tape for all to see: that Obama seemingly remains under the influence of his radical, anti-American indoctrination and has a dangerous agenda he keeps hidden. It reveals much that the Romney campaign dare not say out loud. Luckily, no one needs to say it out loud. They simply need to run campaign ads of this video until this deeply unsettling moment becomes ingrained in the minds of every battleground state voter.
President Obama: "This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility [on missile defense]."
President Medvedev: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."
Last March, the Republican National Committee released an ad showing the open-microphone moment, but its impact risks being diminished by the increasing flood of new commercials. And voters are less likely to retain numerous facts, figures, and policy details than to remember a visual moment (everyone remembers Clint Eastwood's chair, but who can recall much of Romney's convention speech?). As Romney's strongest card, the Obama-Medvedev video deserves to be the highlight of the campaign's final days, the main image voters take with them into the voting booths.
The Romney campaign also might note that Obama's overheard promise to Medvedev is not an uncharacteristic anomaly, but rather the continuation of a pattern. In 2008, the Obama campaign got caught promising Canadian officials the opposite of what he was pledging to primary voters -- a revealing instance of duplicity Hillary Clinton tried in vain to warn Americans about. There are similar reported assurances to Palestinians to "sit tight" until after this election (not the first time such a secret promise on Mideast policy has been alleged).
Similarly, Ambassador Joseph Wilson noted in 2008 that one reason for Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power's resignation was her "honestly revealing on a British television program that Obama's public position on withdrawal from Iraq is not really his true position, nor does it reflect what he would do." And Ahmadinejad now sounds disturbingly certain that a re-elected Obama would be more compliant. Did Iran's president receive a Medvedev-type promise? Sadly, it's no longer unthinkable.
The second-most damaging tape is a newly relevant "oldie": Obama, at a private fundraiser in 2008, disparaging ordinary Americans as bitterly clinging to religion and guns -- a moment recently echoed by the Democratic Convention's display of hostility to religion. PBS and ABC, to their credit, brought up the remark when initially reporting on the Romney 47 percent tape. Yet both drew the same odd conclusion: that Obama's statement is no longer damaging because it passed some sort of expiration date. As Judy Woodruff reported:
The episode drew comparisons to 2008, when then candidate Obama remarked at a private fundraiser that people in depressed areas of the Midwest -- quote -- "get bitter and cling to guns or religion." That statement came in the middle of the Democratic primary season, giving Mr. Obama time to recover politically.
For Romney, the timing is more problematic, with Election Day now just seven weeks away.
A modest proposal: saturate the airwaves with this Obama quote once again, damage his candidacy with it once again, and he'll need "time to recover politically" once again.
This Obama quote deserves to be revived because it reveals secret contempt for a demographic that includes a large portion of swing voters, and it has been tested and found effective. Jay Carney, as a pundit in 2008, said it revealed "a huge weakness," and that the outcome of the Pennsylvania primary would be a barometer of the effect -- or non-effect -- of Obama's remark. Sen. Clinton -- like Romney, a personally unpopular candidate taking on the uniquely charismatic Obama -- won in Pennsylvania by 10 points.
So Romney really should take a hint and bombard the battleground states with the "cling to religion" quote, combining it with video of the majority of Democratic delegates voting a resounding "no" to including mention of God in the party's platform and booing when they did not prevail. That moment, when Obama's disdainful 2008 comment was revealed to be the 2012 Democratic Convention's majority view, illustrated how completely the millions of Democrats and independents who believe in God have been abandoned by today's Democratic Party. The media will not highlight this historic, game-changing reality. The Romney campaign must.
The Medvedev and "cling to religion" videos both reveal the same inconvenient truth, exposing Obama as a con man whose attitudes, beliefs, and policies behind closed doors are frighteningly different from what he pretends in public. His opinion of the most cherished values of ordinary Americans seems to border on contempt, while in foreign policy he treats antagonists as allies and vice-versa (demonstrated again when an open microphone caught him disparaging Benjamin Netanyahu).
Another troubling moment caught on tape (and ignored by the media) is Obama's characterization of Eisenhower-era America as closely resembling Nazism during a 2001 radio interview -- a comment that takes on new significance in light of an e-mail to Democratic donors warning that Romney would return us to "a social agenda from the 1950s." Voters are entitled to hear their president using the word "Nazism" in reference to his country and decide whether they agree and whether it affects their vote. (If Romney had said it, he'd be interrogated about it in interviews and in the debates, pollsters would ask voters if it negatively affected their view of him, and the media would report the poll results as yet more bad news for his campaign.)
Among the other compelling tapes ignored by the media, the suppressed video of Obama and three terrorists at an Israel-bashing event carries with it explosive yet unused ammunition in the hands of the Romney team. While ads are running today in swing states demanding that Romney "should come clean" on his tax returns, the Romney campaign fails to reciprocally demand that Obama and his loyal media release the video that clearly contains something so damaging that it could sink his campaign. (Meanwhile, the political ally of Ayers, Dohrn, and Khalidi feels free to portray Romney as an extremist.)
There's also a stunning tape of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, interviewed for Edward Klein's book The Amateur, claiming that the 2008 Obama campaign offered him a bribe to stay quiet. Yet that bombshell from Wright, who feels betrayed by Obama and is clearly eager to damage him, has been disregarded by Romney and his surrogates and allowed to fade into obscurity by the conservative media outlets that reported it. Is everyone asleep?
In light of his record of domestic and foreign policy failure, Obama is running surprisingly strong and cannot be counted out. Defeating him might require more than his dismal record alone -- something guaranteed to elicit a deep visceral reaction. It appears that Obama's reign, like Nixon's, can most effectively be brought to an end by his own troubling words caught on tape.
Another tape that needs to be played especially in states like PA and OH is Dear Leader's attack on coal expanded to point out electric rates will also go up in those areas when coal fired plants will be forced to shut down.
John, you are so right. Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. is headquartered here in the town where I live. It is the 3rd largest coal producer in the U.S.; and in 2012 I believe it climbed to second. At any rate, Mitt Romney made a point of stopping here to visit and his primary reason was to reassure those that work in the coal industry that he knows that this industry is much needed in the U.S. and that no matter how much effort there is toward 'green energy', that the need for coal for the coal energy plants will go on for some time as we can't shut them down and suspend coal production until there is a viable source of energy to take the load from this area. Unlike Obama that things it is a simple case of regulate coal producers out of the market, shut down coal energy plants, and it is just that simple. It once more proves his ineptitude in rational decision making and the error of those advising him.
If you can find links to these tapes, we do need to share them, John.