President Obama is a classy guy who ran a classy campaign four years ago and ran a classy campaign again in 2008. Even after four straight years of having rabid right-wingers openly question his patriotism, his religion, his culture, his intelligence, his values and even his nationality, he refused to sink to their level. Not even when it might have helped him win reelection.
Case in point?
No one is voting against Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon.
Right? Remember Mormonism? It was supposed to be a big deal, if you recall.
Four years ago, Barack Obama was accused of participating in a poorly understood religion supposedly at odds with mainstream Christianity, and this was used against him. People claimed he was a Muslim and that "otherness" was used as a cudgel at every opportunity by his detractors. (Nevermind that it was 100% false.)
And today? President Barack Obama found himself matched up in the general election with a man who actually did belong to a poorly understood religion considered by many to be at odds with mainstream Christianity. During the primary, commentators openly wondered if this would affect his chances or cost him votes. But never -- not once -- did anyone associated with the Obama campaign make even the slightest issue of Mitt Romney's Mormonism, or suggest even in passing that anything about it ought to disqualify him from serving as President in any way, or cause others to think of him as an "other." This, despite the President's treatment by the right wing -- and the fact that it happened to be true -- Mitt Romney actually was Mormon!
Simply put, they chose not to go there. They took the high road, even when the low road was so easy and might have yielded some results.
I'm proud of that.
Was it a 100% positive campaign? Of course not. Negative ads do work. Millions of Americans simply don't vote very often, and in order to motivate the many who only do so if they really really feel it's important (sigh) it is sometimes helpful to inject a little hyperbole into the proceedings.
But even when it was negative, it was never mean-spirited. It was never dirty. Mitt Romney claimed to be a wizard with money, but never released his tax records. He flip-flopped on issue after issue. He called half the country irretrievably lazy on video tape. He picked the author of the most right-wing budget in recent memory as his running mate. He vowed to end Planned Parenthood and PBS.
These things are real, and relevant to people's votes for President.
His religion is not relevant -- and so, Obama's team chose not to mention it. Ever.
You can't tell me they didn't poll it, and you can't tell me that, when they did, they didn't discover there were more than a few folks (certainly including some in OH, VA, FL, IA, NC and NH) that weren't sure someone with the unusual beliefs espoused in Mormonism was right for the country. Some bigots vote Democratic, too, sorry to say, and some racists and some other similarly close-minded folks. I have to believe some staffer somewhere must have sensed a possible advantage there and suggested the campaign gingerly take it.
But they didn't.
It's not hard to imagine what Team Red would have done were the roles reversed here. Does anyone doubt that Crossroads would have had a whole unit dedicated to the effort?
But Team Blue is classier than that. And we win anyway.
I'm proud to be on that side.