Cold Fusion – More Cow Bell Edition
Why did the Republicans lose the presidential election to Barack Obama?
Too much Cow Bell.
Remember the famous Saturday Night Live skit from April 8, 2000 in which Will Ferrell plays the fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle of the real band Blue Oyster Cult? Sure.. During this skit, the band is urged on by Christopher Walken as, THE Bruce Dickinson, their producer, to have More Cow Bell in this really ‘hot track’ called “Don’t Fear the Reaper” which actually did end up being a hit for BOC.
It is a legendary Saturday Night Live moment, but it closely illustrates, to me anyway, just what happened this election cycle to the Republican challenge to Barack Obama.
They had a really hot track and THE Bruce Dickinson told them they needed more…More Cow Bell.
On the other side, you had the Obama campaign playing the Cow Bell like the Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman in this studio cut.
In the end, Obama was still the Rolling Stones while the Republicans were trying to put together a “really hot track”.
Look, the Obama Campaign was pretty straightforward, well organized, and well funded. It was classic campaign 101 stuff – just get our people to the polls. Don’t over complicate it.
Oh and rip the bark off Mitt Romney by demonizing him and his successes which undermined his credibility as someone who could turn the economy around. They built mistrust in Romney’s strengths.
The swing vote went with the Stay the Course versus Change. Better to dance with the devil you know than the devil you don’t.
The Obama Campaign had a lot more time to organize deeply in the battleground states. They had 599 field offices to Romney’s 300. That matters in campaigns.
Could Romney have won? Of course he could have. Did Hurricane Sandy hurt the final undecided voters? Yup, sure did. Did Chris Christie lose the election for Romney? No. Chris Christie was…well….wearing a fleece with Chris Christie for Governor embroidered on it. ‘Nuff said.
In the end, the candidate wins and loses the campaign. He’s the boss. He calls the shots. It’s his or hers to lose.
Early in the race, Obama Campaign Manager Jim Messina presented President Obama with a choice – run on your record or rip Romney apart because your record won’t sell.
Obama chose wisely. He set a narrative early that Romney was not to be trusted with the economy since he was big, bad investor. And rich. Filthy rich at that.
Sidebar – Michael Bloomberg is worth 100 times what Romney is.
What should have Mitt Romney done?
Well, instead of playing More Cow Bell and saying it’s good to play Cow Bell, he should have said, Cow Bells are great but let’s make sure that everyone get a chance to play Cow Bell.
More than anyone in any race in a long long time, Mitt Romney was uniquely qualified to address the concerns that everyday people have about Washington DC and Wall St – it’s a corrupt relationship that has to be reformed to create a more level playing field.
Especially since most of it is guaranteed with taxpayer money.
The headwinds are strong enough to take on a likable, historic incumbent president and withstanding them is a natural thought. After all, Romney is a good, decent man who is known for being of the highest character and personal integrity. He’s easy to defend.
Which is where Obama wanted him to be. Defending a system that many of his voters believe is unfair and works against them.
Romney should have, and the Republicans still can, go after substantive reforms to Wall Street and their own legislative operations.
Example: “Governor Romney what do you say to all of your critics who think you are a big, bad, and evil corporate fat cat?”
“Thanks for the question. I am proud of my successes and I have given back in taxes, public service, and private charity. We have structural problems in our economy. I understand them and the institutions within it. Look, I understand why Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, the repeal of Glass Steagall, and left derivatives unregulated. I think we can all say that we need to reform a broken system so that everyone in this country trusts its governing and financial systems. Or at the very least restore some level of restraint to the excessive, irresponsible behavior funded with taxpayer money. We need to change that. That’s what I am hearing.”
You know..less Cow Bell. Keep it simple. Classic.
But hindsight is 20/20, right? Sure is. But my ideas on Wall St and government reform were submitted along with others on immigration, education, health care, pensions, and energy independence.
Some stuck, some didn’t. The fight continues for less Cow Bell. Not More.
It’s on all of us to stay in the fight regardless of party otherwise we’ll just have more producers encouraging their fever for More Cow Bell. Which really is just BS.