There were probably lots of high-fives at the Obama White House Thursday morning. A front page story in The New York Times exposed one of the stupidest plans ever conceived by high-profile Republican strategists to unseat the incumbent president.
A detailed advertising plan leaked to the newspaper outlined a proposal by ad man Fred Davis to resurrect President Barack Obama's relationship with controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright as a campaign issue in early September. The $10 million scheme was reportedly commissioned by Chicago billionaire Joe Ricketts and was to have been rolled out during the Democratic National Convention by a pro-Romney super-PAC for maximum mischief and effectiveness.
Within hours, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney denounced the ad concept, complaining that it would detract from his critique of Mr. Obama's economic record. There's no doubt that Mr. Romney also feared blowback from heightened public discussion of Mormonism as a response from savvy pro-Obama PACs.
Because Americans only have the vaguest idea of what Mormonism is, the Romney campaign doesn't want to risk having it defined in the worst possible light, once conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists might weigh in.
Mr. Ricketts also insisted that he would never have anything to do with such an ad. Brian Baker, the president of the Ending Spending Action Fund that Mr. Ricketts bankrolls, wrote that his patron explicitly rejected the politics of raising Rev. Wright as a campaign issue.
Which begs the question: Why was Mr. Davis, the GOP's answer to Don Draper of "Mad Men," pitching a $10 million ad idea to such a fine, upstanding right-wing oligarch?
Mr. Davis is the same genius who conceived the "Demon Sheep" and "I am not a witch, I'm you" ads for the failed Senate campaigns of Republicans Carly Fiorina and Christine O'Donnell. Mr. Davis also created an overtly racist ad used in a Michigan GOP Senate primary election featuring an Asian woman speaking in broken English.
Historically, Mr. Davis' ads are characterized by the same racism and xenophobia that prompted Lee Atwater, the creator of the notorious Willie Horton ad, to make a death bed confession. Mr. Davis possesses the late Mr. Atwater's rabid ambition, but not his Luciferian genius. In attempting to make an issue out of Rev. Wright four years after Mr. Obama put a stake through the heart of that controversy, he revealed himself to be a perpetual, though highly paid, amateur.
Most people know and understand that Mr. Obama spent 20 years at Rev. Wright's church because that's where prominent blacks in Chicago worshipped. It was Oprah's church, for crying out loud. Does anyone seriously think she hates white people? If Mr. Obama's current church attendance habits are any indication, I'd be shocked if he showed up 20 times in 20 years.
The biggest irony is that Mr. Obama and Rev. Wright have a low regard for each other now. If Mr. Obama and Rev. Wright were to walk down the street and see the other on fire, they would probably cross to the other side without stopping despite full bladders.
Still, the boneheaded Jeremiah Wright stuff didn't interest me as much as the proposed strategy for countering the inevitable criticism of their scare-whitey strategy. The schemers believed they could find an "extremely literate conservative African-American" who would argue that Mr. Obama tricked the American people into electing him because they thought they were electing a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln."
There are many perpetually broke and articulate black conservatives who probably would've applied for the job, but none of them are persuasive enough to pull off an argument that Rev. Wright's "teachings" are deeply embedded in the soul of his former congregant.
The contempt with which the shadowy super-PAC holds black conservatives is instructive, though. The term "extremely literate conservative African-American" is nothing but code for "He can conjugate a verb and keep more than one idea in his head at a time," which is a fairly low bar. Heck, even Herman Cain, who didn't know anything, could do that, um, most of the time.
It is also interesting that the plotters would have limited the very important role of Mr. Romney's black defender to men, without considering black women. We're familiar with articulate conservatives like Larry Elder and Juan Williams and, frankly, we're sick of them. Why not consider a sassy loudmouth like columnist Star Parker or blogger Crystal Wright? There's also Utah congressional candidate Mia Love, who is not only black, but Mormon.
His latest boondoggle may have collapsed, but Fred Davis has more bad ideas where that one came from.