Candidates Change, But Campaigns Remain The Same

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The Obama campaign’s first major general election campaign video–released today–makes the case that despite an inherited recession and foreign policy crisis, the President has made the country safer and stronger.

Oops. Wrong guy. Wrong election. But it’s the same message. Here is the online video that Obama actually released today:

In modern presidential campaign politics, little changes but the names on the door.

Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the roundtable basically agreed that the Obama campaign was bordering on bad tactics by taking so much political credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. But those of us who were around for the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004–yes, just blocks from Ground Zero–remember this pattern well.

(MORE: The Inside Story of Osama bin Laden’s Last Days)

Here was Rudy Giuliani, speaking at the convention, about how the attacks of Sept. 11 explained the greatness of George W. Bush:

We did the best we could to communicate a message of calm and hope, as we stood on the pavement watching a cloud come through the cavernous streets of lower Manhattan. Our people were so brave in their response. At the time, we believed that we would be attacked many more times that day and in the days that followed. Without really thinking, based on just emotion, spontaneous, I grabbed the arm of then Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, and I said to him, “Bernie, thank God George Bush is our President.”

On this point, President Bush appeared to agree, as he explained in his own convention speech while describing his decision to invade Iraq.

I faced the kind of decision that comes only to the Oval Office, a decision no President would ask for, but must be prepared to make: Do I forget the lessons of Sept. 11 and take the word of a madman or do I take action to defend our country? Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.

Four years later, at the 2008 Republican Convention that nominated John McCain, the imagery of 9/11 ran thick again, with a long and painful “tribute” video to the victims of Sept. 11. This infuriated liberal commentators for its exploitation of a unifying national tragedy.

Now it is Obama’s time to gloat. As Vice President Joe Biden said last week, “Thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. You have to ask yourself, if Governor Romney had been President, could he have used the same slogan — in reverse?”

And boy, are Republicans upset. Of all people, Ed Gillespie, the very guy who ran the Republican National Committee for Bush in 2004, is just beside himself at the idea that Obama would try to make political hay out of a U.S. military accomplishment in the War on Terror. This is what Gillespie said Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press:

This is one of the reasons President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history.  He took something that was a unifying event for all Americans, an event that Governor Romney congratulated him and the military and the intelligence analysts in our government for completing the mission in terms of killing Osama bin Laden. And he’s managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan, political attack that former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci for President Reagan called “sad.”  John McCain called “shameful.”  I think most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign.

Sigh. Take a deep breath. We are only just beginning.

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