Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate has utterly unhinged the Obama campaign. Last week they were happily jabbering about Romney's record at Bain Capital, implying that he had killed a man's wife, stating that he was a tax cheat and blaming him for outsourcing jobs. This week they're stuck defending Barack Obama's $700 billion cuts to Medicare and spending addiction.
That leaves the Democrats with one solution: get ugly.
Joe Biden led off the festivities in Virginia this week, where he informed the population of 49-percent-black Danville that "he said in the first 100 days, he's going to let the big banks once again write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street. They gonna put y'all back in chains." That last line is a direct transcription -- Biden lapsed into a heavy southern accent, clearly making a slavery reference. According to the Obama campaign, then, Romney's Wall Street plans are the same as placing Americans in chains. If that isn't insulting to black Americans, nothing will be.
But the Obama campaign wasn't done. The same day Biden unleashed his inner race-baiter, the Obama campaign's Julianna Smoot send out a mass email accusing Ryan of "making a pilgrimage" to Las Vegas to "kiss the ring" of Jewish mega donor Sheldon Adelson. This was an obvious attempt to drive a wedge between Ryan and blue-collar Catholics by invoking anti-Semitic imagery; the implication is that Ryan, instead of making a pilgrimage to Rome to kiss the ring of the Pope, was heading to Vegas to kiss the ring of a wealthy Jew. Ryan, the email implied, was a Judas willing to sacrifice religion for money in the Sodom and Gomorrah of Vegas.
This isn't just nasty campaigning. It's vile campaigning.
It wasn't surprising, of course -- not after the Obama campaign seemingly worked hand-in-glove with a super PAC to release an ad accusing Romney of murdering Joe Soptic's wife of cancer after Bain Capital fired Soptic and Soptic lost his health insurance. It wasn't surprising after the vulgarities that seem to spout daily from the Obama headquarters; their emails suggest that they must win the "damn" election and their staffers call Obamacare opponents "mother---ers." No hope and change to be found here -- just vulgarity and racism.
Just because the Obama campaign is running a disgusting campaign doesn't mean it will hurt them. Negative campaigns remain extraordinarily effective. But it won't work against the revitalized Romney-Ryan ticket. Ryan is simply too likeable -- 50 percent of Americans like him, as opposed to 32 percent who don't -- and he is highly intelligent and scrupulously honest. That means he'll be tough to categorize with the left's three favorite anti-conservative insults: stupid (Palin), corrupt (Nixon) and mean (Bush). Ryan isn't extreme; he's praised by people like ... Barack Obama and Erskine Bowles.
The question that remains for the American public is whether they can be polarized by the divide-and-conquer rhetoric of the Obama campaign. If Obama can't convince Americans that Romney-Ryan will destroy America, he'll have to destroy America himself to ensure re-election by separating Americans by race, sexuality and religion. That's precisely what he's doing.