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Late Night: Going There

There’s every reason to expect the next month or two to be the dullest part of the 2012 presidential race.  It doesn’t make much sense for the candidates to make their strongest, sharpest arguments when the public isn’t likely to tune in until the respective party’s conventions at the earliest (and really, not until the formal debates in September).

But then again, the polls are close enough to make the advisers on both sides nervous… and, well, they’ve got to say something between now and late summer, don’t they?

As a political junkie (meaning I think about things normal people shouldn’t bother with), I’ve wondered how this dynamic would affect Team Obama’s reelection strategy.  So this report of the president’s appearance in Iowa last night intrigued me:

Speaking directly to Iowans, Obama used local lingo to slam Romney: “Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week and warned of a prairie fire of debt,” he said. “But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.

Then he quipped, “I don’t know whose record he twisted the most – mine or his.

Don’t get me wrong; attacking his opponent’s personal credibility makes a lot of sense for an incumbent running during difficult economic times — the basic argument is, “You may not think I’m doing a great job, but hell, you can’t risk handing the keys to this guy!” And it’s an especially obvious case to make against someone as glibly dishonest as Mitt Romney has been all year long.  But the danger in making honesty an issue this early is that invites the false equivalence-loving media to nitpick every statement that comes from any Democrat between now and November, so they can comfortably blame both sides.

For that matter, Politico (a bellwether for such things) considered it a problem for Team Obama to simultaneously argue that Romney was both insincere and a rigid conservative.  As Ed Kilgore snarked:

Is it really confusing or risky to depict Romney as an empty suit in the thrall of radicals? … I’ve also heard from anxious Democrats who fear that calling Romney a flip-flopper could make him more attractive to swing voters: “Being a flip-flopper might actually help Romney. It shows he’s not an unreasonable person.”

Really? People who don’t like the ideology Romney has been incessantly peddling for the last two presidential cycles are going to vote for him because they believe he’s an incorrigible liar?

In fact, it may just be that Obama’s reelection staff felt like they couldn’t help using the ammunition Romney has been giving them.  The video above shows their effort at making Mitt’s recent “I stand by what I said, whatever it was line as infamous as John Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it” — and it seems like pretty sharp stuff, almost fall-campaign caliber.

And they haven’t even dragged out the “Etch-a-Sketch” yet.  By October, this could get nasty.

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Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (