Today Barack Obama hosted an admittedly gracious bipartisan lovefest at the White House for the unveiling of George W. Bush’s official portait. But don’t be fooled: As I recently wrote, the Obama who wanted to transcend red states and blues states has been replaced with a campaigner every bit as partisan as Karl Rove.
Don’t believe me? Check out John Heilemann’s well reported New York magazine piece on Hope being followed by Fear. Consider the Obama campaign’s plans for Mitt Romney:
They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.”
The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This [expletive] guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”
It’s a better tactic for Obama than trying to run on his economic record.