Thursday, February 23, 2012

Political Brand Strategy - Obama 2012

There are relatively few times that I'll write something with a strict time value. But sometimes the conditions are so fascinating that only a Trappist monk could resist the urge to opine. This is one of those times, because just as they can in business, the political stars are aligning, presenting a compelling set of circumstances that not only would see President Obama re-elected, but riding into a second term in a landslide.

As a strategist, this is just too good to ignore. So here's one branding guy's take on what could happen over the remainder of 2012:

THE ECONOMY: No rational person could blame Obama for the economic recession he inherited. Sure, they can argue about the repair work he's done, but it all comes out in the wash on the bottom line: If the economy were to improve, the voters would approve; but were the economy not to improve, Obama would be, to coin a phrase, "a one term president.."

Call it luck, timing of the markets or just good strategic implementations, all economic data seems to indicate that after several long, painful years, the economy is indeed improving -- just in time for a national election. By the time November, 2012, rolls around, the American economy won't have fully recovered, but barring any force majeur, Obama will be able to claim a sustained record of improvement, which is all he really needs to show. Unemployment down, jobless claims down, corporate profits get the idea.

THE WORLD: As Bill Clinton discovered, "it's the economy, stupid," but that's actually a defensive tack Obama can use to push back against his Republican detractors. The true offense plan is the world stage, particularly Iran. At the time of this writing, the "main threat" perceived by western media is "the Iranian quest for a nuclear bomb." Despite its Iranian claims to the contrary, most nations seem certain that Iran's true intent is to arm itself with nuclear capabilities so that it can pursue its own agenda, most notably, "wiping the state of Israel off the map." This threat, understandably, has alarmed the state of Israel to the point of publicly considering a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear capability before any such devices could be built.

President Obama, having pledged to "bring all combat troops home," isn't about to risk another military engagement overseas. But my guess is that he will do whatever he can to support Israel's strike. See if you agree with this scenario:

1. The Defense Department recently re-commissioned the U.S.S. Ponce, a massive aircraft carrier that was originally scheduled to be de-commissioned this year. Instead of mothballing the vessel, it's been converted to a "floating air base" near the Strait or Hormuz, within view of the Iranian coastline. This would put the Ponce in a perfect location to aid, assist and coordinate Israeli aircraft.

2. Obama can eat up the clock by publicly urging Israel to "show restraint" in dealing with Iran -- at least until a few weeks before the election, at which time he can point to a record of attempts where the United States, the United Nations and Israel have tried and failed to negate the Iranian threat through diplomacy.

3. On or about, say, October 23, 2012 -- or at least a few days before that week's Jewish Sabbath -- I'd expect Obama to appear on national television, informing the American people that, "at 2:30 PM Eastern time, Israeli forces, with the full support of the American armed forces, launched a pre-emptive strike we believe to be morally justified as a move to protect the world from a rogue power intent on inflicting terror on the world and the destruction of our friend and ally, the state of Israel. No American troops are engaged in combat, nor will any be deployed to do so. However, the American people, in our quest for a peaceful, freedom-loving world, stand by our friends and allies -- and the state of Israel ranks among our greatest friends and allies. We stand by their side, ready to help in any way we can."

With a recovering economy and major demonstrations to the American people of his resolve against a nuclear Iran and his support for Israel, all occurring a week before the election, it would seem impossible for anyone to stop the Obama train.

See you at the inauguration.