Are WE Really Looking At A Four-Corner Campaign for President ?

The U.S is suffering through the worst economy since the Great Depression and candidates for both political parties have decided, simultaneously, to play a Four-Corner Campaign Offense.  Forget about a “grand idea” for how to get us out of this self-inflicted gaping wound of an economy. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent, and not a single new, innovative idea. Just finger-pointing and mud-slinging.

Obama four corner

It’s pretty obvious to me that both of these candidates have a special place in their hearts for North Carolina basketball for it was coach Dean Smith who popularized the Four-Corner offense.

If you aren’t familiar, the Four-Corner offense is an offensive strategy for stalling in basketball under the assumption that you are ahead in the game and therefore in a position to just play “keep-away” until the game clock runs out and you win by default. Specifically, four players stand in the corners of the offensive half-court and the fifth dribbles the ball in the middle. Most of the time the point guard stays in the middle, but the middle player would periodically switch, temporarily, with one of the corner players.

It was a strategy that was used in college basketball intended to simply bide time once ahead. It’s premise was to force the defense to attack the ball and make a mistake that the offense could then exploit for an easy score. The NCAA put a stop to this because it was boring and cowardly by the institution of the shot clock.

In exactly the same way, neither presidential candidate wants to take any chances by offering any daring, albeit serious proposals for the single biggest problem for not only the U.S., but the western world. Both candidates are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.

Mr. Romney has gone so far as to revert to the childhood limerick, “I’m paper, you’re glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you”.

With an economy stuck in low gear, this strategy may prove to be President Obama’s undoing.

Overestimating the American Voter has Backfired Many Times

The public, understandably, wants bigger ideas from the President, and wants to know what he will do in his second term to get us out of this mess. Perhaps the President thinks that simply being an honest, likable, steady President will convince just enough swing voters to pull the lever for him. Perhaps he has some ace up his sleeve that he intends to play once the die is cast and post conventions. I’m sure, I do not know the President’s thinking.  But apparently, President Obama has decided against advancing any bold ideas of his own for what he’d do in the second term, even if he has a Congress that would cooperate with him.

Instead, he’s sticking to a dog-eared script that reads:

  1. George W. Bush caused the lousy economy
  2. Congressional Republicans have opposed everything he’s wanted to do to boost it
  3. It’s slowly on the mend just give it time
  4. The Bush tax cuts shouldn’t be extended for the rich
  5. We (the voters) shouldn’t take a chance electing Romney.

At least A New York Times-CBS News poll released last week showed that a majority of voters believe the president “can do a lot about” the economy. That is a a double-digit step-up from the fall of 2011.

The President could propose a new WPA, or any of the other nine jobs programs employed during the Depression-era that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. But that would have to assume that he would have a Congress ready to work with him. A stretch at best.

He could have someone look at my One Penny Solution, which I’ve tried hundreds of times to get into SOMEONE, ANYONE’s hands interested in a fair, easily-implemented program to at least evaluate. It focuses on alleviating the long-term debt reduction problems so that appropriate attention could be focused where it would do the most good…getting Americans back to work and paying taxes rather than hoarding money and hunkering down for a Depression.

He could suggest permanently exempting the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and making up the lost revenues by eliminating the current $106,800 ceiling on income subject to it. He could propose resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and breaking up the big banks, so Wall Street doesn’t cause another financial collapse.

But apparently the White House doesn’t want to take any risks. Polls give Obama a slight edge in the critical eight or so battleground states, so I guess the thinking in the Obama camp is why say anything that might give Romney and the GOP a target?

Polls DO show Romney isn’t well-liked by the electorate.

So President Obama has decided to campaign as the anybody-but-Romney.

Mitt Romney As the Invisible Man

Mitt Romney is playing this cat-and-mouse campaign even more cautiously, if that’s humanly possible. Since he carpet-bombed each member of an extremely weak Republican field into submission, Romney has acted as if he were Sarah Palin dodging Katie Couric and her “gotcha” questions; like “What do you read?

The Invisible Candidate

His economic plan is really a non-existant series of generalities and platitudes:

  1. More tax cuts for the rich
  2. Undefined spending cuts
  3. No details about how he’d bring down the budget deficit.

No presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover in 1928 has been more obtuse about what he’d do on critical issues.

Apparently, Romney’s advisors assume Obama can’t possibly be reelected with the economy this bad and with a coordinated effort by Republican Governors laying off a state employee for every private sector job created in order to maintain the one number most Americans use as a yardstick for success…Unemployment.

Just 44 percent of registered voters in a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month approve of the job the president is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Even more encouraging for Romney is that 41 percent of those polled “strongly” disapproved of Obama’s economic performance, while just 21 percent “strongly” approved .

So it seems clear that Mr. Romney’s campaign has concluded that all Mr. Romney has to do between now and Election Day is avoid a mistake that might give President Obama and the Democrats an easy target and they will be home free.

The two cynical strategies certainly illustrate themselves with a blitzkrieg of negative advertising that’s just begun but will undoubtedly reach epic proportions after the respective conventions. Since Mr. Romney has the backing of billionaires who can write checks that would burn my hands, swing states can expect wall-to-wall ads; a prospect that could very well drive voters to return to Netflix.

Whatever happens on Election Day, the next president will have to contend with two handicaps. The public won’t have approved any new ideas or bold plans, and they will have settled for whomever they distrust the least to get a quick turnaround in place.

That may be enough for Mr. Romney. He only served one term as Governor of Massachusetts before getting bored  and placing another  “X” on his Bucket List.

I’m quite certain he has enough cash stashed around the world to live quite comfortably through the next Great Depression he and his Austerity-insistent Republicans would undoubtedly initiate.


Harvey Gold

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