Every losing presidential campaign has had its, “Oh, four-letter word,” moment in which the well-attuned political observer can actually hear the sound of a flushing toilet. Michael Dukakis had his moment atop an M-1 tank. George H.W. Bush had his moment at a simulated grocery store checkout counter. John McCain had his moment when he picked that running mate with extra baggage. President Obama recently had his moment when he uttered, “doing fine.”
It’s probably not his fault. It could have easily been a glitch in the teleprompter, or a glitch in the teleprompter-operator. Nevertheless, serious damage has been inflicted upon the re-election effort, and we can only hope that the poor teleprompter-operator is well equipped for a Siberian winter.
Public perception is a cruel beast in the world of politics because it has a way of manifesting itself into an uncontrollable and false reality, which can actually get innocent people killed.
Despite the fact that Democrats occupied the White House through each of the world wars, as well as Korea and the first half of Vietnam, the modern public perception is that the Democratic Party is weak on national defense.
Upon inheriting the Vietnam War from the Democrats, Richard M. Nixon decided that more bombs, as well as an invasion of Cambodia, were necessary to achieve, “peace with honor.” In the meantime, the Mi Lai Massacre was revealed, the National Guard opened fire on protestors at Kent State University, and AP photographer Nick Ut captured a little Vietnamese girl getting napalmed by American airpower. Combined with his tendency to have his subordinates break, enter and steal documents, Nixon and the Republican Party became forever publically perceived as the hawkish bad-guys of American politics.
In the world of two main political choices, the Democratic Party became the publicly perceived hangout for anti-establishment peaceniks.
Although President Carter was a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, his time in office did little to alter the common public perception of Democrat weakness on national defense. After enduring five months of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, he launched Operation Eagle Claw, a joint Special Forces operation to rescue the 52 Americans held captive in Tehran. Due to an unfortunate series of events, including sandstorms, the rescue effort ended in complete failure with the collision of an Air Force refueling plane and a Navy helicopter. Eight men were killed, four wounded and five helicopters were abandoned without having even been in the vicinity of the hostages. The botched effort added to America’s national frustration, and former President Carter believed that the disaster was instrumental to his defeat against Reagan in 1980.
The perceived political lesson from Operation Eagle Claw must have weighed heavily upon President Obama prior to sending the Navy SEALS into Pakistan to kill Bin Laden. Although the President was quick to explain that he did not want to, “spike the football,” in the aftermath of the successful raid, the reality is that he could not help himself. Not only did Mr. Obama, “spike the football,” he pulled off the longest end zone dance in history, which seems to be continuing to this day. His elation is understandable. It has been a tiresome game that has extended into double top-secret overtime. Not only that, the world needs to know that not all liberals are wimps. Unfortunately, most football coaches agree that one of the main rules after a touchdown is to not hand over your playbook to the opposing team.
Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator John McCain seem to believe that a large amount of top-secret information has left the building. McCain is suspicious of the fact that it seems to have been designed to make the President look good. Feinstein would rather not go that far.
For the average American, it is comforting to know that a computer virus has hindered the Iranian effort to destroy Earth. It is also fun to think of President Obama as the Godfather, sitting in the Oval Office, examining terrorist playing cards; mulling over which one gets whacked by the next drone.
In fact, the whole transparency thing is a lot of fun, but probably not so much for that Pakistani doctor, who confirmed Bin Laden’s position.
Meanwhile, now that America is back to 1992 median-wealth levels, it is high-time to recall a phrase of advice from that same year by DNC strategist James Carville: “It’s the economy stupid.”
Michael Patrick is a freelance writer from Reno. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.