JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 9, 2011
A couple months ago, Karl Rove had one of his regular bouts of non-self-awareness and wrote:
Since Mr. Obama can't make an affirmative case for his re-election, he has decided to try convincing voters that Republicans are monstrous. As a result, America is likely to see the most negative re-election campaign ever mounted by a sitting president.
Now former Rove deputy Pete Wehner echoes:
Barack Obama’s re-election campaign will jettison the strategy of defending his record for a simple reason: it is indefensible. He has amassed fewer impressive achievements than even Jimmy Carter. As a result, Obama will unleash the most sustained, negative campaign by any incumbent in modern American history. The president knows it will be ugly. He also knows it will be his only hope.
Uh, right. Obviously, Obama doesn't have a lot of achievements that are going to impress Pete Wehner. Obama's major legislative achievements -- health care reform, financial reform, education reform, killing Osama bin Laden -- enjoy varying degrees of public support, but they all represent a hideous altering of the pristine perfection bequeathed to America by the Bush administration.
It is true that incumbent presidents have a hard time mustering strong public support during a massive worldwide economic crisis. It's also true that Obama's best political advantage is the continuing public's continued distrust of the Republican Party, justly earned by Bush. So I wouldn't be surprised if Obama spends a fair amount of attention arguing that his opponent will make things worse as opposed to a classic "Morning In America" campaign.
But, seriously -- why do they want to insist that there's something so wrong about an incumbent winning reelection by focusing the campaign on his opponent? The self-hatred here is pathological.