Reihan Salam notes a piece by an ex-Obama aide who argues that, given Obama’s persona, it has proven tough for Republicans to make attacks on Obama stick. Like Salam, I think that the Obama’s persona is less than half of the story. The vast majority of those who produce the news at “mainstream” journalistic outlets are intensely sympathetic to Obama and just as intensely protective of him. You could see that this week with the reaction to Romney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of Libya. These journalists will instinctively seek to minimize interpretations hostile to Obama and try counterattack against Obama’s opponents even before the Obama campaign has a chance. It must be nice.
So what does that mean? One thing the piece does get right is that this kind of media environment is not conducive to drive-by attacks on Obama. They will either get ignored or become so muddled in the reporting that they won’t make any impact on public opinion. These same journalists will then focus their reporting on whatever garbage the Obama team is spewing. The Republicans are much better off focusing on a limited number of issues and driving the point home day after day. A sustained argument will break through the media filter. That is what happened with Medicare right after the Paul Ryan pick. The Republicans were winning that argument because they were making an argument and had the best guy in the party to make that argument. But they went back to the Romney default message of having no message.
The irony is that the Republicans are facing a situation where unprincipled nonsense is more problematic than principled reformism, but the candidate is too wedded to opportunism to see it.