The frenetic Iowa Republican Presidential Primary is now over, and my sense is that Republicans in general have already lost the first round of the 2012 presidential sweepstakes. The spectacle in Iowa, with the full participation of the northeastern Republican “establishment” at the highest levels; as well as their campaign consultants, “Super-PACs” and the candidates themselves, has given immeasurable aid and comfort to President Obama and those who wish to transform the United States into a European-style socialist nation where American ingenuity and our capitalistic free-enterprise system is permanently put in moth balls for future study by historians.
As Karl Rove noted in a recent Wall Street Journal article (Dec. 22, 2011): “Obama will frame this election as a fight for the middle class. He told his Kansas audience that America was once a place where ‘hard work paid off, and responsibility was rewarded, and anyone could make it if they tried.’ Now, as he informed ’60 Minutes’ correspondent Steve Kroft, ‘the rules are rigged’ against ‘middle class families’”.
If Rove is correct (and I believe he is) the realization that the 2012 Obama re-election strategy will be a frontal assault on the American way of life and the free market society, should send cold chills up the spine of every Republican and every person who loves and considers America to be the last real beacon of hope for freedom in this world. Accordingly, one would think that responsible Republican candidates for President (and their advisors and supporters) would have recognized the stakes we are playing for in this election, and would have conducted themselves in a civil manner when debating each other so as not to do permanent damage to the Republican cause once the primary season is completed. Unfortunately, this was not the case in Iowa.
Instead, each of the candidates at one time or another were subjected to brutal attacks if they showed any sign of gaining traction with their message, and breaking out of the pack. These attacks took many forms. Some became deeply personal (my favorites: “If you cheat on your spouse, you could cheat on your business partner”; and “my opponents are anti-muslim”). Other attacks described their victims as being of such low character as to be basically unfit to be in the presence of decent, god-fearing men and women, much less to be President of the United States.
The northeastern Republican “establishment”, the national conservative media, as well as the “Super-PACs” (those anonymous organizations created for special purposes or to support a certain candidate) and their consultants also fully participated in the negative onslaught through paid direct-mail and television advertising designed to bring down certain candidates without their opponents having to dirty their hands in the process.
Undeniably, negative advertising works in political campaigns but negative advertising is also divisive and drives down voter-turnout, because the voters are often disgusted with the tactics employed to attack a victim. They are also often repelled by those making the attacks. In my opinion, the negative attacks by candidates on fellow Republicans in Iowa became so widespread, so divisive and so deeply personal, that I fear the Republican Party and its ultimate nominee for President have been permanently and unnecessarily damaged, all to the benefit of President Obama.
It has been said by some that politics is a “contact sport” and while Republicans may fight hard against each other in the 2012 primaries, they will come together in the fall to oppose President Obama in the general election. Undoubtedly, many (if not most) Republicans will come together in the general election. However, if the Republican base is divided, disheartened and unenthusiastic in November, 2012 (as it was in 2008 when John McCain was the nominee), President Obama will snatch victory from the jaws of defeat once again.