Who Do We Get to Blame?

Let me first say that I completely understand why candidates tend to spend a lot more time blaming each other for our problems than offering ideas on how to fix them.  It doesn’t take Karl Rove or David Axelrod to understand what every four-year-old competing for his mother’s affection knows intuitively – it’s a heckuva a lot easier to point out your brother’s faults than it is to actually be good yourself.    The down side of this strategy is, of course, that it is really annoying and tends to make mom dislike both kids after a while.   This article, in short, is my attempt to keep Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from annoying us all for the next six months as they compete for our affections in hopes of winning the world’s most important office.1   And, by following these five rules, they may just restore a little faith in the political process to an electorate that doesn’t much believe in our system anymore.   The List:

1.            You can’t blame a candidate for the words of someone who doesn’t work for them.  Thus, Democrats, you can’t make it seem that Mitt Romney hates women because Rush Limbaugh likes to call them whores.  And, Republicans, you can’t say Barack Obama hates stay-at-home moms because CNN contributor, Hillary Rosen, dismissively said that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life.  And no, it does not matter that Mitt Romney has played golf with Rush Limbaugh or that Hillary Rosen has had dinner with Barack Obama.

2.            You can’t blame a candidate for doing something that you suggested he do.  I am talking to you, Mitt Romney.  You cannot call Obamacare “an attack on economic freedom unlike anything we have ever seen before,”  2 when your Massachusetts health care plan was the model for the federal legislation, and, more importantly, when you called on President Obama to” learn” from your plan in the op-ed that you wrote for the USA Today in 2009. 3 You can’t make it sound like President Obama has taken a flame thrower to the Bill of Rights when his health care reform uses the tax incentives and penalties that you suggested he use to insure that all Americans who can afford private health insurance buy private health insurance.  As you put it, “using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others.” 4  It’s just bad form to criticize someone for following your own advice, don’t you think, Mitt?

3.            You can’t say it’s not your fault this time, when you said it was their fault last time.  This time I am talking to you, Mr. President.  In the summer of 2008, while on the campaign trail in Indianapolis, you blamed Washington insiders for the $4.00 a gallon price of gas that the nation was experiencing. 5  Now that gas is once again hovering around $4.00 a gallon, you do not get to blame oil speculators for the artificially high price of gas. 6  Of course, Republicans who pointed out in 2008 that oil speculation is what typically causes gas prices to spike in election years, cannot now blame President Obama for this year’s increase. 7 Why don’t both parties just agree that, for future elections, oil speculation will be agreed upon as the number one reason that gas prices spike during election years?  See, that wasn’t so hard.  It feels good to agree once in a while, right guys?  Right?

4.            You can’t attack each other’s religion, wife, or children.  Luckily, both candidates have a pretty solid record of staying away from these types of low blows.

5.            You can’t let “non-coordinated Super Pacs” do your dirty work.  Let’s learn from Massachusetts once again, Mitt, and take the People’s Pledge that Republican Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic Challenger Elizabeth Warren took in their Senatorial Campaign. 8  As my fellow editor, Aaron Brooks, pointed out last week on Media Rostra, each candidate agreed to donate one-half of the cost of any negative ad purchased by a Super Pac that supports their candidacy to a charity of the other candidate’s choice.   Imagine how much sludge could be avoided if Governor Romney and President Obama both agreed to this noble idea?

Alright, gentleman, here is the good news: if you abide by these rules, we may very well have a race for the Presidency that turns simply on the quality of your ideas for the future of America and on your own track records of successes and failures.  And, in so doing, you just might restore a little dignity to a political process that truly deserves to be dignified and restore a little faith to the people who you are trying so desperately to represent.

About David Davies, Editor-in-Chief

David Davies is the Editor-in-Chief of Media Rostra. He is also a lawyer and a licensed minister, so he is basically distrusted by everyone on some level. He received his Political Science degree from the University of Tulsa and his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas. He is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arkansas, a former "good athlete for his size," and current owner of The Law Offices of David Davies, PLLC -- an Estate Planning and Elder Law firm that has offices in Arkansas and Tennessee. He co-authored, with fellow editor, Aaron Brooks, the article entitled: “Exploring Student-Athlete Compensation: Why the NCAA Cannot Afford to Leave Athletes Uncompensated," in the University of Notre Dame’s Journal of College and University Law.


  1. Forward the article to both campaign managers. Last paragraph is the best Let’s focus on the “quality of [each candidates] ideas for the future of America and on [their] own track records of successes and failures.” Amen!

  2. So true, Dave. So true. And I say if they decide not to abide by those rules, lets just do a winner-takes-all, American Gladiators style competition between the two of them. I’m talkin’ powerball, snapshot, joust, the gauntlet- all of it. Bring back all the old 80’s gladiators too (to make it more fair)…. Nitro, Lace, Gemini, Laser… and let’s just see who wants it the most.