The Face of Things to Come

The campaign contour is pretty clear: The Obama reelection team will not make the case for the advantages and popularity of Obamacare, for the Chuian advantages of $4-a-gallon gas, for the dynamism of a 1.7 percent GDP growth rate, for the stimulatory effects of adding $5 trillion in new debt, or for why 8 percent unemployment does not qualify under the old rubric of a “jobless recovery.” Instead we are going to see a) mostly the spike-the-football sloganeering about Osama bin Laden and adherence to the Bush-Petraeus timetable in leaving Iraq, b) the supposed racism (Trayvon Martin–style), sexism (“war on women”) and homophobia of the Right, and c) personal attacks on Romney’s past.

But given that of almost all politicians, left and right, on the national scene, Romney is about the most squeaky clean (indeed, perhaps the squeakiest in a generation of candidates), the fare is going to be pretty paltry — mostly Mormon boilerplate and silly stuff like the Washington Post high-school bullying story that already is starting to unwind or fade.

The notable thing about these surrogate attacks is not just that they are trivial, beneath us, and distractions from a real debate over what to do about debt, joblessness, and the economy, but how quickly they are matched and trumped in equally trivial style. In the women wars, Sandra Fluke was rebutted by the unapologetic misogynist Bill Maher’s $1-million-dollar-gift to the Obama campaign; in the doggy wars, poor Seamus in his windy car-top cage was trumped by Obama’s cynophagia, and now Romney the prep-school purported hair-cutter is seen and raised in Na-na na-na na-na style with Obama the Hawaii preppie stoner, who likewise had been insensitive early in his school days, in his case by pushing a middle-school girl. In other words, the Romney support group is not, in high-minded McCain fashion, going to avoid the silly, trivial, and irrelevant, as was true in 2008. And given that Obama’s past has never really been vetted, at some point I think these Washington Post–like stories will cease, given the inevitable trump to follow. In other words, I don’t think we are going to be reading stories about anything like Romney getting a B- in math in college, or not telling us that on his released medical report that he might have had asthma, or that as a Bain CEO he didn’t publish an annual report, and for obvious reasons . . .

Victor Davis Hanson — Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. © 2018 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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