Friday, May 25, 2012

Oval Office Head to Head

Campaign watchers get a double-header of metaphors with reports that Barack Obama is eschewing a Rose Garden strategy and going head to head with Mitt Romney by name, along with a reminder of the President’s fondness for a three-year-old photo showing an African-American boy touching his hair in the Oval Office to compare it to his own.

As they were no doubt intended to be by White House aides, symbolism lovers may be wrenched by the distance between that early image of the breakthrough significance of Obama’s election and the bitter racially tinged battle for reelection now.

Yet the subtext is clearly there as the President and his supporters try to get their footing in these early days of the campaign, and the unspoken question is how far white-bread appeal will take Romney with voters who never accepted the idea of a black president and have compounded their racism by blaming him for the ills of the economy ever since.

The coming months will see a complex tangle of demographic struggles, as evidenced by early signs that Obama’s aggressive foreign policy has won him unlikely support among veterans and the military.

Some voters will believe anything in an election year, as we are reminded by a new photograph of Bill Clinton with his arms around porn stars in Monaco. Two decades ago, he got into the Oval Office by persuading Americans he could “feel your pain,” and the former President has apparently never stopped.

Now he is stumping and fund-raising for Obama ("Bill and I have plenty to talk about these days," he says in an e-mail),  but some things never change.  

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