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Pick a smear and stick with it

<p>Just a couple of weeks ago, Newsweek ran a cover story on Mitt Romney and "The Wimp Factor." So last night, John Sununu engaged in
Pick a smear and stick with it
Pick a smear and stick with it

Just a couple of weeks ago, Newsweek ran a cover story on Mitt Romney and "The Wimp Factor." So last night, John Sununu engaged in a little projection.

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, known for his candor, took a jab at former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's book, "A Nation of Wusses," and launched an attack line at President Barack Obama."Obama hasn't passed a budget in four years, he's a wuss," Sununu, a Republican, said Thursday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." "Obama has rejected the recommendation of his own Simpson-Bowles, on a budget package, he's a wuss. He wants to lead from behind, he's a wuss."

It's always heartening to see Team Romney raise the level of the public discourse. We've gone from "Obamalogna" to "wuss" in just a couple of days. How inspiring.

As a factual matter, this is an odd line of criticism. As we've discussed before, Romney's afraid to offend conservatives; he's afraid to push back against extremist rhetoric; he's afraid of the religious right; and he's afraid of Limbaugh. He's afraid to release his tax returns because he thinks Democrats might be mean to him; he's afraid to disclose his bundlers because he worries sunlight may scare his wealthy benefactors away; and he's afraid to take a firm position on key issues because he thinks he'd lose.

If the race comes to down to a debate over who's earned the "wuss" label, the Republican's in trouble.

For that matter, Sununu isn't exactly making a strong case. Obama "hasn't passed a budget"? Presidents don't pass budgets, John, Congress does. The president didn't adopt the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles commission? The Simpson-Bowles commission members didn't even reach an agreement among themselves.

But in the bigger picture, I'm struck by the degree to which the president's critics still haven't decided how to define him, and frequently contradict one another. As we discussed a few months ago, at different times over the last four years, Obama's detractors have said he's a ruthless Chicago thug and a weak pushover. He's a bystander who goes golfing too much and an activist president who engages too much. He's sticking to the Bush/Cheney script on national security and he's putting us at risk by abandoning the Bush/Cheney national security agenda. He's cutting cherished entitlement programs like Medicare and he refuses to cut entitlement programs like Medicare. He's too mean to Wall Street and he's too nice to Wall Street.

If the right would just pick a caricature and stick with it, their criticisms would at least be more coherent.