Remember when the knock on Mitt Romney was that he's an unprincipled flip-flopper? That seemed like it would be at the very least one foundation of the campaign Barack Obama would run against Romney, if not the primary foundation. It's a potent attack, and there may never have been a candidate more vulnerable to it than Romney. Yet aside from passing remarks here and there, we don't hear much about flip-flopping from Obama and his surrogates anymore.
Instead, it's going to be all money, all the time. Or to put it another way, the Obama campaign's central message will be that Mitt Romney is an out-of-touch rich guy who spent a career screwing ordinary people in his endless lust for profits and now wants to be president so he can continue to screw ordinary people and reward his rich friends.
Look at the ads produced by Priorities USA Action, the main pro-Obama super PAC. There are about 20 ads focusing on Romney's record at Bain Capital, and not one about flip-flopping. The ads produced by the Obama campaign aren't much different (and they seem to be working).
The beauty of this strategy is that almost any discussion of the economy can be turned quickly and easily into a discussion of the fact that Mitt Romney is a rich guy who (allegedly) cares only about rich people. The Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of the year, so today President Obama announced that he wants to renew the tax cut for incomes under $250,000 a year. This will force Romney to defend tax cuts for rich people.
As Josh Green wrote today, the sense of noblesse oblige that figures like the Bushes had "is all but gone from today's Republican Party, replaced by an intense devotion to laissez-faire capitalism that's often accompanied by a sense of entitlement and persecution." I took up a similar theme in my piece today on MSNBC's Lean Forward blog, in which I argued that Romney really does embody the spirit of contemporary American capitalism, where profits are the only goal, and if you have to step over people in order to gain those profits, then that's what you do. I think one of the most revealing things Romney ever said came in a debate in January, when he answered a question about his low tax rate by saying, "I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes." The real crime, I guess, would be if Romney didn't set up a network of accounts in places like the Caymans, because then he'd obviously be some kind of pathetic sap.
All this means that Obama will be quite happy to talk about the economy from now until Election Day. But I kind of miss the flip-flopping stuff.