Monthly Archives: August 2011

Is Obama The “Prevent D” or “Rope-A-Dope” Candidate? What’s A President To Do Or Not Do?

Observing the Presidential campaigns — as all the pundits are doing 24/7 while most Americans remain totally disinterested — one can get the impression President Obama is shying away from any dramatic or controversial policy proposals and, instead, is depending on the following premises for a November 2012 victory.

  • The President’s best chance of re-election is based on the assumption any of the current candidates in the Republican field won’t match up.  Although President Obama is tied in many polls with a “theoretical” Republican opponent, when a specific candidate is named, he comes out on top for every head-to-head match-up (although sometimes by only a few percentage points).
  • The President will benefit from a long, drawn-out Republican primary election battle which could last months (i.e., forcing the remaining candidates to take extreme positions to carve out support, with those positions mortally damaging the eventual nominee in the General Election).  This is promoted by the fact there are relatively low-cost ways for the current crop of Republican candidates to stay in the race indefinitely.
  • Even if the “best” Republican is nominated, the odds are high he or she will make a fatal mistake without the help of an opponent.  This is more likely because few of the candidates previously have been on the national stage.
  • Despite the fact the President’s move to the center disenchanted his left-of-center base, those voters still will cast ballots for Obama.  They may not do much more but, in the end, Obama wants, needs, and will get those votes.
  • Because it is unlikely the Democratic base will be as energized as it was in 2008, the President and his team believe the loss of that enthusiasm can be replaced by prodigious fundraising (which the President’s campaign already is proving quite capable of doing).  Hence, dollars will replace the energy, passion, and fervour which was emblematic of the 2008 campaign.

In essence, from a policy perspective, the President is deploying a “Prevent D” approach — the play-it-safe strategy some teams use in sports when they are far ahead of their opposition.

Hence, don’t expect anything other than marginal proposals from the White House until Election Day.  Bold, ambitious proposals will not be unveiled — with the excuse they would be dead on arrival anyway thanks to a Republican-controlled House of Representatives — so many don’t expect much from the White House now that the Presidential Campaign is in full swing.

Unfortunately for Obama, Prevent D strategies often fail and, in this case such an approach may be even more risky because he isn’t far ahead of many of the candidates in recent head-to-head match-ups.  However, the President may believe, based on the above-cited reasons, America will embrace him once again, especially after voters examine their soon-to-be-limited choices.

To again use a sports analogy, the President’s actual stratagem may be to imitate Muhammad Ali’s famous “Rope-A-Dope” strategy in which he took numerous blows from his opponent while moving along the boxing ring’s ropes so, as he bounced back and forth, many of the swings of his opponent missed their targets and much of the energy of the blows landed by his opponent was absorbed by Ali’s body as well as by Ali being forced against the springy rope.

As his opponent continued his ineffective assault and as his adversary’s energy was dissipated by Ali’s clever use of physics, he then moved in for the kill.  Will a worn-out Republican nominee face the same fate?

With these strategies in mind, Obama and his team actually may be hoping the Republican field — which few voters can fully name — continues to flail away at the President while moving further to the right.  The questions to be answered are, “How will Republicans respond to the President’s rope-a-dope plan and will that strategy succeed or fail by November 6, 2012?”


Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm as well as on COMCAST Entertainment Television and  ION Television (KPXC-TV) and is viewable 24/7 at  Send e-mail to  (C) Copyright 2011 by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber.  All rights reserved.