In 2004, after George W. Bush beat John Kerry by claiming he'd exaggerated his military record, I thought, “If the Democrats really want to win, they need to take some lessons from the machine around here. Chicago Democrats have no scruples. They treat political offices as feudal inheritances. They shake down contributors like a corrupt pope selling indulgences. They’re sleazy, they’re arrogant but they WIN.”
Lo and behold, the Democrats nominated a Chicagoan in 2008. And won. Now Obama’s wrecking crew is doing the same thing the Bushies did: attacking its genteel Boston opponent on the strongest aspect of his biography. Mitt Romney says he should be elected president because his business background gives the experience to turn the economy around. So on Saturday, Obama released an ad attacking Romney the businessman. As Romney sang “America the Beautiful,” the screen filled with news stories about how his company outsourced jobs to China, about his tax shelter in the Cayman Islands, about his Swiss bank account.
For once, a Democrat is attacking a Republican’s patriotism. Obama is saying Romney is a capitalist before he’s an American. Going all the way back to his first campaign for the state senate, when he challenged every one of his opponents’ petitions and knocked them off the ballot, Obama has learned not to attack his opponents before they attack him. And he’s setting Romney up for the nastiest campaign of personal assassination since 1988, when George Bush made Michael Dukakis -- another Bostonian -- looking like a wimpy liberal who hated the flag but loved black rapists.
On Sunday, Obama dispatched Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- his nastiest operative of all -- to mock Romney on ABC’s This Week. Romney has been claiming he retired from Bain Capital in 1999, even though he maintained the titles of CEO, president and chairman of the board until 2002 -- a period during which Bain shipped jobs overseas. Romney has been insisting Obama apologize for calling him an outsourcer.
“What are you going to do when the Chinese leader says something to you or Putin says something to you?” Emanuel said on This Week. ”I give him his own advice. ‘Stop whining.’ Defend — if you want to claim Bain Capital as your calling card to the White House, then defend what happened to Bain Capital….He said ‘CEO, sole shareholder, president.’ You can’t — as president of the United States you can’t have a sign on your desk that says, gone fishing.’ You can’t put that on that desk. It’s basically the buck stops there,” said Emanuel. “You can’t say to the SEC, ‘I was the CEO, chairman and president, but I’m not responsible. I’m not accountable.’”
Romney is condemning Obama’s attacks as “Chicago-style politics at its worst,” and calling the president an unscrupulous politician who will say anything to win. As Obama learned in Chicago, politicians who’ll do anything to win usually end up winning.