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Obama takes (another) tip from Soviets

Posted By Barry Farber On 10/02/2012 @ 7:55 pm In Commentary,Opinion | No Comments

Remember those video scenes of the overweight Japanese warrior in a 15th-century robe solemnly walking up to a rather thick log sitting there with each end on a hip-high rock? After bowing to the shrine, the Japanese warrior, with one bare-handed karate chop, cut the log cleanly in half. You were glad the log was not you.

This time the log is you, and me, and all who want regime change in America. I suspect the Obama team is out to do to our end-of-campaign will exactly what that Japanese warrior did to that log. It’s only my suspicion, but I’m the world’s foremost authority on what I suspect!

The image need not be Japanese. I’ll give you the Soviet Communist version and the North Carolina high school football version. There was a pass defense tactic in North Carolina high school football I’m not sure ever made it to the pros. The defensive linebacker raced alongside the wide receiver. At precisely the strategic moment, while the ball was still in the air, the defender would yell, “You dropped it!” – hoping to rattle the receiver enough so he would drop it.

The Soviet Communist version was something I personally experienced, and it marked the funniest moment I ever spent in a dictatorship. It was the summer of 1956, and I had arrived in Moscow with the earliest model of a transistor radio. This was long before the Japanese started manufacturing them. It was an American make: the Regency. I pulled it out in the middle of Red Square and turned it on. Within half a minute I had a fascinated audience of over 700 Russians, blinking in disbelief at this actual “pocket radio.” A plain-clothes “agitprop” (agitation and propaganda) agent appeared, whose job it was to keep crowds from gathering, especially crowds united in admiration of Western technology.

As that eager crowd closed in for a better look, the agitprop man, who’d fought his way to my side, cupped his hands to his lips and yelled, “We make them better in the Soviet Union!” He then leaned over to me and asked, “What is it?”

Word of honor, total truth! And he wasn’t the slightest bit embarrassed at his performance, any more than the North Carolina pass defender was embarrassed if the receiver happened to catch the ball despite his cry of “You dropped it!” The defender was sorry his ploy didn’t work. The Moscow agitprop man was sorry he couldn’t make the crowd lose interest in my pocket radio. Both did their defensive and deflective best. They were sorry they failed. But they were not embarrassed that they’d tried.

It sounds typically politically peevish to say, “When a president’s record has been as dismal as Obama’s, all he can do come re-election time is go negative, or try alternative tactics.” Peevish, perhaps; but also true. According to this theory, all the key players on Team Obama got the “word” sometime around late August: “When we’re between 45 and 55 days from the election, let’s play ‘You-Dropped-It!’ Let’s talk and write as though, ‘It’s all over! It was a nice little fight, but Romney just didn’t have it and Obama’s got it wrapped up, so all that’s left now is wait and be polite and begin our second term the day after election.’”

Such “word” would continue to specify that “whatever genuine good news about Obama we could factor in, by all means do so,” but the main thing is radiating an attitude that will chop all the Romney “logs” in half so the money won’t be there, the volunteers won’t be there; the fight, the belief, the will won’t be there.

Repress all notions, the “word” continues, of Romney still being able to win. Banish all thoughts of Romney donors making the checks larger and Romney volunteers not only coming, but bringing their family and friends. No, that happens when the message you project is, “We’re ahead.” The message we’re asking for is “It’s all over!”

What gives me that suspicion? In this derby, one is an indication, two is a trend, three is a groundswell. And I’ve read more than three pieces that look like they were all written by someone who’d “gotten the word.”

You know what might be a cute TV ad for Romney? The climactic scene from the 1944 movie biography of President Woodrow Wilson without updating or even mentioning names like Romney and Obama. America went to bed election night 1916 thinking Wilson had lost to Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes. A gaggle of reporters rang Hughes’s doorbell shortly after midnight. A haughty butler answered and told them: “The new president is asleep and cannot be disturbed.”

“Well,” said one of the reporters. “When he wakes up, tell him we’re not so sure he’s the new president.” The reporter then flashed the wet-ink headline that Wilson had pulled it out in a squeaker once the votes from far-off California came in!

Maybe it’s not the most combustible political punch ever thrown, but its point can mess up a good game of “You-Dropped-It”!


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