Did you know that one of the reasons for the federal lawsuit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was Obama political campaign strategy? Don't take my word for it. This assertion has been made by the Huffington Post editorial director Howard Fineman in his story excusing negative Obama campaign strategy by claiming they are merely taking pages from the GOP playbook:
Wedge Issues. The phrase is often misused. It means forcing the other party to defend an idea, policy or person in such a way that it divides the other party's base. The classic example, used for years if not decades by Reagan, was welfare, which split white and black working-class Democrats. Obama is trying to do the same thing to the GOP on immigration. His administration just filed suit against Arizona's controversial and, to many, egregiously anti-immigrant Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The goal is not just to bring him in line, but to make Republicans defend him.
Since the state of the economy is a subject that Obama would be wise to avoid in this campaign, Fineman believes that the Democrats will be forced to use campaign tactics that he thinks were initiated by Republicans in the past:
Starting with Richard Nixon in 1972, and moving on to Ronald Reagan in 1984 and George W. Bush in 2004, Republican incumbents assembled a strategic doctrine that includes the following basic plays: Stress culture, and exploit cultural and regional divisions, especially if doing so helps detract attention from a so-so (or worse) economic record. Declare one's own strength as commander in chief and the opponent's ignorance or weakness (or both) in military and foreign affairs. Paint the foe as out of the mainstream and/or elitist in terms of money, education or both. Highlight wedge issues to expand fissures in the other party. Where possible, speak in sweeping historical terms about the greatness and uniqueness of the country. And evoke symbols of manly recreational endeavor.
Fineman lists a number of cynical campaign tactics that Obama already used which are supposedly copied from the Republicans. However, one such tactic listed by Fineman is absolutely hilarious. How has Obama projected "macho symbolism?" By shooting hoops with George Clooney and Spider-Man. I kid you not:
Macho Symbolism. Obama isn't a Sunday rancher like Reagan or George W. Bush. But he is a good athlete and a fanatical fan, and uses both to burnish his regular-guy image on ESPN and elsewhere. The morning after his glitzy and colossal Hollywood fundraiser this week -- just the kind of event that might paint him as "elitist" -- he played basketball with his staff, George Clooney and Tobey Maguire. No disastrously Kerry-esque windsurfing photo ops for the president. And, by the way, Romney is admittedly not much of an athlete. Expect a lot more Obama hoops between now and November.
Meanwhile one wants to know if Attorney General Eric Holder was Fineman's source for the ulterior motive behind the lawsuit against Sheriff Joe. Arpaio's lawyers would certainly be interested in that information if they decide to file a motion to dismiss the case.