Several years ago, Wall St. Journal columnist James Taranto introduced an idea that came to be known as the Taranto principle, it states:
the liberal media often ill serves liberal politicians by creating a feedback loop in which both sides reinforce each other's prejudices while public opinion goes its own way.I think the 2012 election could become the biggest vindication of the Taranto principle since Paulene Kael in 1972. At a minimum, the Obama re-election campaign has based its strategy around liberal myths about George W. Bush's 2004 re-election that leave it disconnected from reality.
The liberal 2004 mythology can be summed up as follows: "after a horrific first term for Bush, thatrottenSOBKarlRove(tm) knew Bush couldn't win so he brought in the Swift Vets to trash warheroJohnKerry(tm) and thatrottenSOBKarlRove(tm) also ginned up anti-gay sentiment to get his base to turnout." All of the preceding statements are false. Consider the following:
- George W. Bush had a reasonably successful first term -- People tend to forget this, because of what followed, but George W. Bush's first term was reasonably successful. In his first term, George W. Bush cut taxes, responded appropriately to 9/11, and removed Saddam Hussein from power. The disastrous "freedom agenda," amnesty push, and Wall St. bailout that unraveled Bush's Presidency were, in November 2004, still in the future. Barack Obama's first term record, by contrast, speaks for itself. George W. Bush didn't head into the 2004 election with 43 months of 8%+ unemployment (that would be closer to 11% if they weren't cooking the books) and embassies on fire.
- The Swift Boat Veterans were telling the Truth -- It's impossible to overstate the importance of the Swift Boat Veterans to the myths leftists tell themselves about the 2004 election. Heck, leftists have event turned 'swift-boating' into shorthand for an underhanded smear campaign. Unfortunately, for the left, the reason the swift boat veterans charges stuck is because they were true. Leftist attacks against Mitt, by contrast, are laughably false. That's why the over these over the top attacks aren't working.
- Homosexual 'marriage' wasn't a particularly important issue in 2004 -- First things first, Karl Rove didn't make homosexual 'marriage' a campaign issue in 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme court did. That being said, homosexual 'marriage' wasn't particularly important. Most of the states that had marriage referendums were solidly Republican and, in Ohio, the marriage referendum passed with a wider margin than Bush's victory. Bush's 2004 voters weren't motivated by homosexual 'marriage,' they were motivated by post-9/11 national security issues. Fast forward to 2012 and you see why the 'War on Women' narrative has been such a flop against persistent unemployment and embassies going up in flames.
In 2004, you had a reasonably successful, if unspectacular, incumbent (whose real policy disasters were still in the future) going against a challenger who told serious fibs about himself. In 2012, by contrast, you have an incumbent with a disastrous record going against a challenger who has, if anything, undersold his own record. Team Obama cannot replicate George W. Bush's 2004 re-election strategy, largely because they don't understand how Bush's victory happened in the first place.