By DeWayne Wickham
If you’re anxious to see the 2012 presidential race get underway, don’t be fooled by slowness of Republican wannabes to officially enter the campaign. It’s already in high gear.
In their attempt to deny Democrat Barack Obama a second term in the White House, Republicans appear to be using the same “shock and awe” strategy employed by the U.S. military to confuse the forces of Saddam Hussein at the beginning of the Iraq War. While Saddam’s troops prepared to repel an American-led invasion, U.S. naval vessels fired hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles at key targets throughout Iraq.
The destruction of those targets crippled any chance Saddam had of putting up a good fight –before a major engagement between Iraqi and American forces was fought.
Republicans are employing a similar “shock and awe” campaign. And as with the targets hit by those Tomahawk missiles, the preemptive strikes the GOP is launching aren’t so much a direct attack on Obama as they are intended to destroy the base of his support before the 2012 presidential race formally begins.
Proof of this strategy surfaced in the wake of the attack Republicans launched against public employee unions in Wisconsin. With an effort now underway to recall eight of the Republican state senators who joined the GOP majority in passing a bill that stripped away most of these union’s bargaining rights, the state’s senate top Republican made it clear the GOP’s goal was to weaken those union’s ability to give financial support to Obama.
“If they flip the state Senate…they can take control of the labor unions. If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin,” Senate President Scott Fitzgerald told Fox News.
Unions, Hispanics, minorities and college students are as essential to Obama’s reelection hopes as the targets destroyed by the Tomahawk attack was to Saddam Hussein’s survival.
While much of the nation’s attention was focused on the GOP’s attach on public employee unions in Wisconsin, Republicans were hurling their political missiles at Democratic targets in other states. In New Hampshire, the new GOP House speaker defended his party’s effort to pass a law that would make it difficult for many college students to register and vote.“They’re foolish,” William O’Brien told a Tea Party gathering because they’re “liberal” and “just vote their feelings.”
In fact, Republicans are using their legislative majorities in dozens of states to push legislation that would sharply curtail the ability of students and minorities – the Democrat Party base – to vote. In Florida, newly-elected Republican Gov. Rick Scott imposed a five-year waiting period before non-violent felons can vote after their release from prison. Asked why he did it, Scott offered this simple (if not simple-minded) explanation: “Seemed reasonable.”
In states like Georgia, Tennessee and Texas, Republicans are pushing anti-immigration bills that critics believe are meant to curb the growing voting strength of Hispanics.
If this strategy succeeds, any one of the frontrunners among the current crop of potential GOP presidential candidates would have their prospect of defeating Obama dramatically improved. As it stands now, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ex-governors Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Tim Pawlenty are longshot presidential candidates.
To unseat Obama, the eventual Republican Party standard-bearer will need lawmakers in GOP-dominated state legislatures to largely succeed in their efforts to weaken the president’s base. Short of that, Obama’s road to victory will look a lot like the one American troops traveled to Baghdad.