- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2012

Could President Obama’s re-election campaign be overmarketed and overpackaged in the trite era of political “likability”? The campaign is a showcase for hip references and fabricated rhetoric. But maybe weary voters are not seeking hip references and fabricated rhetoric from their president in these troubled, cluttered times. Mr. Obama is running for the highest political office in the land, not selling merchandise or seeking an Oscar. Voters may pine instead for genuine straight talk — a plain but authentic style like that of, say, Mitt Romney.

Some would prefer a hipper Mitt, though.

Taking to Twitter, media mogul Rupert Murdoch chastised Mr. Romney’s campaign methods, suggesting Sunday that “Chicago pros” from Mr. Obama’s team will prove tough to beat in November and that Mr. Romney ditch “old friends” and hire some “real pros.”

Pop-culture politics is not without risk, however. The latest Obama campaign methodology includes references to swear words — such as a much ballyhooed new T-shirt with a motto reading, “Health Reform Still a BFD.” That, of course, recalls Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s off-mic remark when he murmured, “This is a big … deal” in the ear of his boss just before health care reform was signed into law more than two years ago.

But why should Mr. Romney and his handlers join the fray of those who would coarsen the political discourse and possibly confuse or insult voters? Not to worry. His campaign is already hip to the perils of pop. And swear words.

“Still not presidential. Kids, earmuffs,” tweeted senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom when he learned of the new “BFD” T-shirt. And the latest Romney T-shirt? It reads: “Believe in America. Every town counts.”

OO-LA-LA

It is, perhaps, the antithesis of a traditional all-American, red-white-and-blue Independence Day celebration. But then, this is Paris, site of an upcoming Obama campaign fundraiser. To be sure, President Obama will not attend the July 4 event at the Rosenblum Collection & Friends, a private avant-garde art gallery that specializes in the work of the young and urbane.

But it is proof that President Obama still commands persistent global appeal among the locals and American expatriates alike.

The 2-year old gallery is the brainchild of contemporary art collectors Michael and Chiara Rosenblum, who converted an old photo-finishing plant into the sleek space two years ago. Mr. Rosenblum, 36, is an Internet entrepreneur and founder of PIXmania, a French website. The current exhibition, in fact, is titled “WYSIWYG,” an online acronym meaning “what you see is what you get.”

But hey, it’s still about money. Tickets cost up to $1,500 at the gallery on Wednesday, and a second fundraiser in the City of Lights follows in a little more than a week, with tickets priced up to $5,000 each.

WHERE’S RON PAUL?

He’s not done yet with the 2012 election. Rep. Ron Paul’s former presidential campaign has secured the University of South Florida’s 11,000-seat Sun Dome for the Paul Festival, a three-day independent event beginning Aug. 24, before the Republican National Convention. “The establishment is about to find out what you and I have known all along this election season — the future is ours!” the Texas Republican said in an email to supporters.

The motto is “Party like it’s 1776.” See the big doings here: www.paulfestival.org.

Meanwhile, the Liberty Political Action Conference announced Sunday that Dr. Paul will be the keynote speaker at the grass-roots gathering of conservative, libertarian, constitutional and free-market organizations, activists and businesses, set for mid-September at a Virginia resort. Other speakers include Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, Virginia Attorney Gen. Kenneth T Cuccinelli II and South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis. See their developing plans here: www.lpac.com

McKINLEY=DENALI

“We don’t refer to it as Mt. McKinley; we just call it ‘Denali.’ That’s what we’ve always called it. Denali is an Alaska Native word, an Athabascan word, and it means ‘The High One.’ …I know the name Mount McKinley has some special significance to the folks in Ohio because of President William McKinley. My response to those folks is: You’re more than welcome to go right on referring to the mountain as Mount McKinley, just as Alaskans have long referred to the mountain as Denali. All that’s changing is that the Alaskan name is becoming technically correct for an Alaskan landmark.”

So said Sen. Lisa Murkowski as her rationale for changing the name of Mount McKinley to Mount Denali during a recent hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources national parks subcommittee. McKinley, incidentally, was born in Niles, Ohio, and was the state’s 39th governor. The nation’s highest peak was named to honor the president by local prospector William Dickey in 1896.

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

“Nobody likes to be called a liar, but to be called a liar by Bill Clinton is really a unique experience.”

H. Ross Perot on President Clinton during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” April 25, 1993.

YOUR PRESENTS REQUESTED

The Obama campaign’s new suggestion to use weddings and birthdays to solicit donations to re-elect President Obama made his fans giddy. Mr. Obama’s critics, on the other hand, are amazed at the audacity of such unprecedented political marketing.

Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of the libertarian Reason.com and Reason TV, calls the idea a “modern low point in political discourse.” He suggests an alternative. In lieu of cash, Mr. Gillespie advises the proper Obama fan to send Mr. Obama a gift instead, preferably one from the SkyMall catalog, which has been tucked into airline seats for decades. Mr. Gillespie’s suggestions:

A Skyrest Travel Pillow, because Mr. Obama appears to spend much time flying the campaign trail in Air Force One.

Lawn aerator sandals, as a way to look after the White House lawn economically and still participate in the first lady’s “Let’s Move” physical activity program.

The “It is what it is” motto bracelet, which Mr. Gillespie suggests could be “easily be re-gifted to former Obama aides, allies, and senatorial colleagues who have recently become just too busy to attend the Democratic National Convention.”

A Miami Heat logo ring. Just to remind Mr. Obama it’s Miami Heat not “Miami Heats.”

And last but not least, the Go Away Gray hair care set because “when you’re the president, you need every edge you can get,” Mr. Gillespie concludes.

POLL DU JOUR

• 61 percent of all registered U.S. voters oppose the individual mandate portion of the health care reform law; 39 percent back the mandate.

• 53 percent of voters say they are “more likely” to re-elect their member of Congress if that lawmaker runs on a platform to repeal the health care reform law.

• 52 percent of voters oppose the health care reform law.

• 81 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents agree.

• 48 percent of all registered voters support the health care law.

• 19 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 991 U.S. voters conducted June 28-30.

Mottoes, slogans, press releases to jharper@washingtontimes.com.