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Damning With Praise

by Walter Burns

Imagine for a moment that you’re a political strategist hired by the Obama administration. Your task is to figure out how to ensure that the president ends up facing his chosen opponent.

Upon research, you can definitely say that Obama can beat Newt Gingrich but not Mitt Romney, and ensuring that the former speaker gains the Republican nomination would just about guarantee victory.
The question becomes, “What can we do to ensure that Gingrich wins the nomination?”
This kind of thought and tactic is not unheard of in politics. Various other public figures have sought to undermine opponents by propping up less desirable alternatives.

So just how could the president undermine Romney enough to secure Gingrich the nomination? There are any number of ways to do so, but none simpler than this – Obama’s tacit endorsement for the GOP nomination.
If there’s anything in this election cycle that could be the poison pill that would decimate a Republican opponent, it is kind words from Obama.
If the president were to come out and say something like, “Mitt Romney, while I disagree with him in many respects, has been a staunch defender of the lower classes, has worked to bring public healthcare to the state of Massachusetts, come out in support of amnesty for illegal immigrants, and fought for women’s rights on abortions.”
The president would not be false in asserting any of that, and the declaration would be the most visible and wide-reaching assertion that Romney is, or at least was, a very moderate Republican.
Gingrich would have a field day parading Romney around as “Obama’s candidate.” Fox News might run it on their ticker for the next three weeks. Glenn Beck’s head might explode.
Now Romney may not have much of a chance as it is. Many very sharp analysts have pointed out that his consistently mediocre polling numbers showcase that he has his supporters, but is not recruiting any new ones.
But still, if Romney represents the best chance for a moderate Republican candidate to capture centrist voters and win the election for the GOP, this move might be the silver bullet that would end the most credible threat to Obama’s campaign.
The Republican base has been so effectively trained to disagree with anything and everything Obama says that the Pavlovian response would be overwhelming. Romney could begin building a fence along the Mexican border himself and not put a dent in the media onslaught that an Obama endorsement would bring.
Why not do it? Convention, for one. Obama would certainly upset his own base with such a declaration, but there are few options for them in the long term. More importantly, allowing Gingrich to take a clear lead and storm through the polls would give him unheralded momentum.
As I stated earlier, this idea is predicated on the idea that we can say without any doubt that Gingrich is beatable. This appears to be untrue. Instead, Obama will need to rely on Romney (and to a lesser extent Ron Paul, who recently launched some vicious attack ads against Gingrich) to muddy the field and ensure that the GOP candidates take a pound of flesh from each other before squaring off in a general election.
But oh how wonderful it would be to see such an endorsement from Obama. If only for the awkward backpedaling of Romney, the chop-licking of Gingrich, and the general media circus that would ensue.

Image courtesy of The Oval / USA Today

Walter Burns is one half of The Inclusive's intrepid News Team! Every other week, he will get you up to date on the goings on in that you should probably be aware of. No, this not actually Cary Grant. He's dead. Contact the News Team! at