I had a dream last night. Mitt Romney had won the Republican nomination and the race for the presidency was on. But really on. The super PACs on behalf of Mitt coughed up their tens of millions for starters -- and the attack ads began everywhere, day and night:
Barack Obama, the worst thing that could have happened to America! Remember our America? Before he killed it. Deliberately. We were a nation of families and values and faith. He hated that. He wanted a more European America. A Saul Alinsky-style America. Barack Obama/Saul Alinsky -- does that sound like a team that can bring America back? No way. But worry not, not so long as our savior, Mitt Romney, and Republicans running for the Congress are in this race!!
Mr. Romney's attack ads seemed to be taking their toll. But then President Obama who once told the justices of the Supreme Court to their face that he "didn't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests," surrendered to his Democrat message machine and gave the nod to his own super PAC-men and the attacks began from the left. No less strident, no more virtuous.
At that point I may have awakened for a moment. I seem to recall stumbling by my wife on her way to the installation I had just left, but moments later I was back in my dream -- just in time to witness a kind of miracle taking place. Barack Obama awoke in the middle of the night, too, with an idea, or should I say an inspiration? Emerson said we all lie in the lap of an immense intelligence and we are merely receptors. Well, that intelligence sent Barack a doozie of an idea! It suggested he think about this: What if the president reversed himself about using attack ads in this election? What if the president of the United States allowed as how he, too, can make a mistake. Remembering that he called Citizens United "a threat to our democracy" when the decision was handed down, what if he told us he changed his mind?
The next thing I know there he is on television, delivering his STANDING ON PRINCIPLE speech. It is clear he has decided to open up to us totally. His messaging team has advised him that what he is doing is fool-hardy. Yes, everyone knows we need campaign finance reform, but we don't have it now, and he has to face the new reality. But not, responds the president, when he knows in his heart and mind that he can do better for the American people by telling them the truth. He has seen what these distorted, hate-filled attack ads have done to our political culture, how it has sewed fear and anxiety everywhere, and from this moment on he will have no part of it.
At this point my dream starts to sputter. A flood of news clips. The media, left and right, don't know what to make of it. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES STANDING ON PRINCIPLE? "He's got something up his sleeve." "It's some damned socialist scheme." "No telling how far a liberal will go!" "This is going to cost us the election." "We told him, if they're fighting and winning from the gutter we can't beat 'em from the high ground."
But then Barack tells the world he can and he will beat them from the high ground. He sits with O'Reilly and O'Donnell; with Blitzer and Hannity; with Sawyer and The View -- he is everywhere he can find a camera and a mic, with bits and pieces of it going viral to millions more, pushing his message that big money from both the left and right is, as he said earlier, a "threat to our democracy," and he owes it to the American people and the future of our country to stand on principle here.
Then low and behold, 'though he hasn't even asked for it, the American people see an opportunity to matter and seize on it. Tens of millions of dollars in $2 and $5 increments, then $10 and $20, come pouring in. The attack ads continue from the right 24-7. Fast-moving, beautifully shot, expensive and vicious as hell, like wallpaper, they are everywhere. Opposed to all that glitz, production and costly ad buys, I see in my dream the lone figure of Barack Obama. And what is he doing? He's standing on principle.
But his huge contributors see that, too. It's David vs. Goliath to them, and they know how that ends, so they start writing BIG checks. But -- what is this?! A new flood of news clips, all the talking heads yakking about: Barack won't take the big money. He'll not accept contributions larger than -- and he states a modest figure! Holy shit! The media goes truly wild now. The man is not only defeating the attack ads by standing on principle, he could even be paving the way for true campaign finance reform.
On the streets the Occupy Movement has grown by leaps and bounds. People form everywhere, feeling they had to do something, began joining them from the moment their president announced his "Principle vs. Money" campaign.
Americans were turned on again! In the streets, a celebratory bonfire was lit. The glow woke me up. Mr. President, what's the biggest check you'll let me write to make my dream a reality?