His advice speaks volumes about the state of the race. That whiff of desperation in the air is real.
“Barack Obama's prospects for a second term depend as much on plain old campaign blocking and tackling as on great speeches or sparkling debate performances,” Halperin writes. “Here's what the President and his troops need to do to stave off defeat in the face of high unemployment, towering deficits and widespread unease.”
One of his first pieces of advice (like the rest of it) is to keep dividing the country.
“Ride the wave of identity politics, now one of the strongest forces in presidential elections,” he says. “Communicate nonstop with Hispanics on the Dream Act, women on reproductive freedom, young people on Pell Grants, African Americans on health care and upper-income, educated voters on a balanced approach to deficit reduction and social issues.”
He recommends plenty of “outrage” — even if the candidate and campaign have to make it up.
“Pounce on extreme personal attacks by groups not directly controlled by the Romney campaign, pointing out any ties to Boston, and dominating the news cycle with irresistibly extravagant outrage (real or feigned),” he writes.
“Regain the upper hand on Medicare,” he says. “Republicans have eaten into the White House's advantage on health care for seniors by invoking Obamacare's shifting of funds away from the beloved program to pay for the president's new scheme. The Democrats have to design a campaign message and TV ads to reclaim the lost ground.”
And he acknowledges the president's own personal popularity is on the wane.
“Send Bill Clinton out on the trail as often as his schedule allows, hoping he'll repeat his TV testimonials on Obama's behalf to as many live audiences as possible,” Halperin suggests.
And he adds that Obama's in a position, to, well, blatantly buy votes. Seriously.
“Use the power of incumbency,” he says. “The administration is dropping all kinds of goodies on states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Expect more million-dollar transit pork projects to be announced as Election Day approaches.”
But Halperin betrays the left at its most desperate in his final piece of advice for the Obama campaign.
“Never deviate from the core message that was set in place even before Romney secured his nomination: Obama can't win if he can't swing the conversation away from the economy and render Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat, an unacceptable alternative in the Oval Office,” Halperin contends.
It's true. The Obama administration, and its supporters, admit that if the election is based on the economy, Romney will win.
This isn't some fringe blogger or political has-been. This is Time magazine. And if this is “the way to win” — through division, distraction and demonization — who would want to?