President Obama's reelection campaign has taken criticism for the negative tone of 2012 campaign. One of President Obama's deputy campaign managers, Stephanie Cutter, suggested that his Republican rival Mitt Romney might be a felon. And while some of the attacks seem to be a dig into the candidate's personal lives — such as a DNC ad featuring Mrs. Romney's horse — in 2008 then Senator Obama promised to fire anybody on his staff who did such negative attacks. “I have been very clear to my campaign. I do not want to see research that is involved in trying to tear people down personally,” then Senator Obama said at a press conference in Waterloo, Iowa in December 2007. “If I find out that somebody is doing that, they will be fired. And I have been absolutely crystal clear about this, and I have been clear about this for a very long time. That’s not what I believe in, that’s not who I am,” Obama continued about oppo research into a candidate's personal life."It’s contrary to the kind of message of change that I’ve been talking about on this campaign.”
"That's not who I am," he preened -- just as he kicked off a remarkably negative primary and general election campaign, which political folklore has since sanitized. This cycle, however, he's abandoned any pretense of positivity. His ads are overwhelmingly negative and untrue. He has virtually nothing to run on, and the bright spots his supporters trumpet aren't quite what they're cracked up to be. Who he is, we're again discovering, is a ruthless politician who will say and do anything to get elected. That's not unusual, but it's a far cry from the fraudulent post-partisan messiah image he cultivated in 2008. BuzzFeed's story mentions the horse video as an example of a personal swipe at an opponent's personal life and family. As we reported one week ago, the DNC's web ad remained live online nearly a week after a party spokesman (half) apologized for using the images, and foreswore any further use of Mrs. Romney's horse. Two weeks later, it is still active on the DNC's rapid response YouTube and Facebook pages:
This spot has accumulated tens of thousands of views since the DNC's "apology," and thousands more since we pointed out that it was still being featured. Barack Obama has total operational control of the Democratic National Committee, which effectively serves at his pleasure. Will he fire whomever is responsible for this ad's continuing public use? Of course he won't. Saintly, upbeat Obama has outlived his usefulness. Let's close with with a video shot, followed by a MSM chaser. 2008:
2012 (via the Associated Press):
President Barack Obama's campaign has been running television commercials that suggest Mitt Romney might be a tax cheat. Another ad uses a clip of the Republican singing an off-key rendition of "America the Beautiful" to ding him for having overseas bank accounts. Another Obama-sponsored spot states flatly: "Mitt Romney's not the solution. He's the problem." So much for the promise of hope, change and bipartisan unity that propelled Obama to victory in 2008. To win a second term, the Democrat who once pledged to usher in a more civilized political era has turned to highly critical commercials - at turns personal and snarky - to go toe to toe with Romney in a campaign noteworthy for its negativity and intensity. But Obama risks turning off voters who generally despise negative ads and undercutting what is arguably his greatest asset - his personal popularity - in a razor-thin race expected to be won in just a handful of competitive states.
If The One's poll numbers soften even further this fall, I think this sort of thing will become inevitable.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography