At Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis argues that Republicans will lose in November if they continue insisting that Obama is some kind of evil, radical socialist intent on destroying the United States. Doug thinks that the GOP nominee (Romney, in Doug’s view) should instead focus on making the election a referendum on Obama’s management ability:
Mitt Romney has a chance to beat Obama, but he’s not going to do it if the GOP and the conservative punditocracy makes 2012 about how evil Barack Obama supposedly is. If he wins, he will win for the same reason that Ronald Reagan did in 1980, because they made the election about the management ability of the incumbent, and the public decided they’d had enough. You can’t do that if you’re so consumed by hatred for that incumbent that you can’t see clearly.
I both agree and disagree with Doug. I agree that portraying Obama as a radical Kenyan socialist, or even a European-style socialist, isn’t going to work for Republicans. As Doug points out, Sarah Palin tried this tactic in ‘08 as John McCain’s running mate and voters rejected it. Besides, Obama is neither a Kenyan- nor a European-style socialist. He’s an American progressive and voters elected him largely because he was a progressive. They chose Obama’s progressivism over the inept big government conservatism they had seen in practice for the previous eight years under the Bush administration. When Republicans insist that Obama is a radical socialist, they’re implying that voters were too stupid in ‘08 to see Obama for what he really was. They shouldn’t be surprised if voters don’t warm up to the suggestion that they’re all idiots.