Barack Obama's BFFs

In several swing states, conservative governors are doing Obama a favour by alienating potential Republican voters.

    Florida governor Rick Scott wants funding cuts for public schools and environmental protection [GALLO/GETTY]
    Florida governor Rick Scott wants funding cuts for public schools and environmental protection [GALLO/GETTY]

    Columbus, OH - With the continuing carnage in the GOP presidential primary showing no sign of abating, one would think at this point that President Obama might send flowers or chocolates to Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum (if Mr Pennsylvania prim-and-proper hasn't yet found a way to ban inter-male exchanges of gifts), with a simple note saying: Thank you.

    These fine men have not only exposed Mitt Romney as most likely to play the Tin Man in any Wizard of Oz remake. They've also shown him to be vulnerable on his supposed strong suit - his past of carpet-bombing companies to scatter jobs and spare parts for the kind of excess cash that says yes, you can demolish that third house in La Jolla to expand it (finally!) to a respectable 11,000 square feet.

    Priorities, people!

    Surprisingly, however, none of these fine gentlemen is likely doing as much for President Obama's reelection chances as another gang of males who continue to collectively cause more of a ruckus than Kirk Cameron at La Cage Aux Folles: Republican swing state governors.

    For example, there is Ohio Governor John Kasich. This past week, on the heels of tornadoes' levelling the village of Moscow, Ohio, destroying homes in up to 100 other towns and killing three people, the governor decided to reject any declaration of the area as a federal disaster area, allowing the Buckeye State to be reimbursed for costs associated with helping people bear this disaster. Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, also a conservative Republican, had no such qualms.

    While Kasich has at least partially relented - under enormous pressure - and finally said he'll allow federal inspectors to come in and look at the damage, the damage done to him and his brand of Republican politics has already been done. Kasich, after all, is the guy who thought it was a good idea to call a police officer an "idiot" in a speech just around the time he tried to deny police officers, teachers and firefighters the right to collectively bargain.

    The result of that manoeuvre was a resounding defeat for his union-busting measure at the polls in 2009 (by over 60 per cent), and his alienation of white working-class voters who had supported him and other Republicans in the 2010 election.

    Also famous for his attacks on unions, and equally as embattled, is Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Walker, who is seemingly too busy for any constituent interaction, except when taking calls from the Koch Brothers, saw his union-busting legislation cost him a few Republican state senators in a recall election that also threatens his continued tenure as chief executive in Wisconsin. For extra kicks, Walker cut Planned Parenthood out of Wisconsin's budget.

    Governor Rick Scott of Florida - who literally looks like villain Lex Luthor, or perhaps even Skeletor - and Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia round out this fearsome foursome. McDonnell recently stirred up a national controversy for trying to force women to endure an invasive transvaginal ultrasound before exercising their legally protected right to choose. Because why can't you bring a little dominionism to the Old Dominion?

    Except, you know, for that whole US Constitution thing.

    He eventually backed off and will now only require that women submit to an abdominal ultrasound before ending an unwanted pregnancy.

    Meanwhile, Scott, a man whose healthcare company defrauded Medicare, has taken an axe to funding for people with disabilities, public schools and environmental-protection programmes, while endorsing harsh, "Arizona-style" immigration enforcement policies.

    Taken together, these men - who won office in 2010 mostly by saying they'd work on improving their local economies - have breathed new life into the Obama campaign in these key swing states, where things once seemed as frightening as the thought of Snooki as a parent. They have all managed to anger key swing groups such as white working-class men, Republican and independent women, and Hispanic voters, and fought to see who can maintain the lowest approval rating.

    Meanwhile, the presidential slog goes on. And on. And... what, oh, I fell asleep for a second watching another Mitt Romney speech. In any case, Obama should come to Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Wisconsin bearing gifts. For the president, the Republicans running these states have disproved the old axiom that if you want a friend in politics, buy a dog.

    Cliff Schecter is the President of Libertas, LLC, a progressive public relations firm, and the author of the 2008 bestseller The Real McCain.

    Follow him on Twitter: @Cliffschecter

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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