We have been warned early and often that this year’s presidential campaign would be the dirtiest in memory and it is living up to this prediction. Many commentators have cautioned that with a president who cannot afford to run on his record, he would probably resort to tearing down his opponent.
To add to this, many of them forecast that the accusations leveled against Romney would be false. Actually, they held that many would be lies. It is very unusual for a sitting president to be called a liar so often and regarding so many different matters, but Barack Obama has earned this distinction.
Yes, Democrats complained that “Bush lied and people died,” but this was about a single issue. And yes, Bob Dole found his reputation tarnished when he complained that a rival had lied about him, but Dole was already perceived as mean-spirited.
With Obama it is a little different. At first, his critics were gentle. They did not want to attack our first black president; hence they suggested he was being “misleading.” Yet eventually the misrepresentations flew so thick and heavy that he was accused not only of lying, but of being a demagogue.
Recently he, and/or his people, have asserted that Romney may be a felon, that he is a vulture capitalist who exported jobs over seas, and that he cares only about the rich —not women, minorities or the poor. According to them, he is a heartless fiend who is clearly not presidential material.
Romney was a little slow in rebutting these charges, so some liberals took comfort that their strategy was working. They would not have to defend the economy or Obamacare because the public’s attention would be elsewhere. As a result, their man’s inherent goodness would carry him through.
To me, this looks like denial. Committed liberals, who naturally want their favorite to win, have apparently convinced themselves he will. This does not surprise me. What does is the large numbers of voters who have not yet caught on to how disingenuous the president and his supporters are.
Recently I have been reading Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of the Beasts.” It is the story of Adolf Hitler’s first year in office as seen through the eyes of the American ambassador and his family. It is also a story of willful self-deception.
Hitler was a depraved leader from Day One. His oppression of the German people, and especially of the Jews, began very soon after he took office. Except many people refused to believe it. The saw the clean streets and the orderly citizens and concluded what they wanted to conclude, namely that Hitler was rescuing his country from the Depression.
They also believed Hitler when he affirmed his desire for peace. Americans did not want war; Germans did not want war; surely Hitler did not want it either. He could not be so mad as to imagine that military adventurism would succeed.
Mind you, all people had to do was travel a few miles out of Berlin to observe the feverish preparations for war. Factories were being revved up to produce arms and military camps were sprouting along the highways. The evidence was there to see, but only for those prepared to see it.
Hitler was playing for time so that he could build his army, navy and air corps. In this, he did very well. Now Barack Obama is also playing for time. If he can keep people from asking embarrassing questions, he just might sneak over the electoral finish line. After that the deluge — but neither he nor his supporters care about that.
Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D., is professor of Sociology at Kennesaw State University.