Archive for Saturday, October 13, 2012

Opinion: Obama’s Big Bird counterattack

October 13, 2012


— No mystery about the trajectory of this race. It was static for months as President Obama held a marginal lead. Then came the conventions. The Republicans squandered Tampa; the Democrats got a 3- to 4-point bounce out of Charlotte.

And kept it. Until the first debate. In 90 minutes, Mitt Romney wiped out the bump — and maybe more.

Democrats are shellshocked and left searching for excuses. Start with scapegoats: the hapless John Kerry, Obama’s sparring partner in the practice debates, for going too soft on the boss; then the debate moderator for not exerting enough control.

The Obama campaign’s plea that the commander in chief could find no shelter under Jim Lehrer’s desk did not exactly bolster Obama’s standing. Moreover, the moderator’s job is not to control the flow of argument, but to simply enforce an even time split.

Lehrer did. In fact, Obama took more time than Romney — 4 1/2 minutes more — while actually speaking 500 fewer words. Romney knew what he thought and said it. Obama kept looking around hoping for the words to come to him. They didn’t.

After the scapegoats came the excuses.

1 Obama had a bad night. He was off his game.

Nonsense. This is Obama’s game. Great at delivering telepromptered addresses to adoring Germans and swooning students. But he’s not very good on his feet.

His problem is that he doesn’t think so. He not only believes his own press, he believes his own mythology. He actually said (in 2007): “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And ... I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Obama is a man of considerable intelligence. But he’s not half as transcendently smart as he thinks he is.

He needs a servant in his chariot reminding him that he’s not an immortal. Of course, after the debate the entire Democratic Party told him he’s a dud. Wrong again. He’s neither lord nor commoner. He’s just an above-average politician who needs a very good night in one of the next two debates.

2 He was weighed down by the burdens of office.

Ah yes, the burdens of office. Like going on “The View” while meeting with not a single foreign leader at the U.N. Like flying to a Vegas campaign rally the day after a U.S. consulate is sacked and the ambassador murdered. Like rushing off to New York for a night with Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Rocky Mountain altitude is a better excuse than that. (Thank you, Al Gore.)

3 Reductionism.

Stephanie Cutter and David Axelrod both said (amazing coincidence) that Romney won on “style points.”

So, the most charismatic politician since Pierre Elliot Trudeau was beaten by an android — on style? I concede that Obama’s reaction shots were awful. But he lost on radio too. And in print. Read the transcript. This wasn’t about appearances. Romney didn’t win on style. He won on an avalanche of substance, on a complete takedown of six months of Obama portraying Romney as enemy of the middle class, friend and footman of the rich.

That was the heart of the Obama campaign. After all, with crushing debt, chronically high unemployment and the worst economic recovery since World War II, Obama can’t run on stewardship. Nor on the future. He has no serious agenda. Nothing on entitlements, nothing on tax reform, nothing on debt, nothing on the fiscal cliff.

So when Romney completely deflated that six-month “kill Romney” strategy — by looking reasonable, responsible, authoritative in demonstrating how his policies would help the middle class by stimulating economic growth — what did Obama have left?

Big Bird. The stupidest ad in memory. Has any president ever run an ad so small and trivial? After an unprecedented shellacking in a debate about very large issues, this is his response?

The Middle East is ablaze, the country drowning in debt, the fiscal cliff looming — and Obama’s great pitch is that only he can save the $130 million enterprise that is the Sesame Workshop?

An inspiring second-term agenda: subsidies for Big Bird and free contraceptives for Sandra Fluke.

Obama has two debates to come up with something better. If he can’t, he will double down on his “Romney the menace” line. It might still work. But a word of advice: Your administration having prevaricated unceasingly — and scandalously — about the massacre in Benghazi, I’d be cautious about the “he’s a liar” line of attack.

Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for the Washington Post Writers Group.


Flap Doodle 1 year, 6 months ago

In other Chicago Democrat news: "...The snowballing troubles of Jesse Jackson Jr. took a new turn Friday with the revelation that federal investigators have launched a probe into “suspicious activity” in the South Shore congessman’s finances. Focusing on a completely new area of scrutiny for the son of the famed civil rights leader, the investigation is not related to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, a scandal that has ensnared Jackson in the past, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times. Rather, the probe — based in the Washington, D.C., FBI field office —is focusing on “suspicious activity” involving the congressman’s finances related to his House seat and the possibility of inappropriate expenditures, the sources said..." Birds of a feather.


OonlyBonly 1 year, 6 months ago

Pretty bad when a sitting President has to worry more about funding a multi-million dollar operation than the murder of an Ambassador. Oh that's right the WH tried to blame it on a movie until they couldn't keep up the pretense any longer. How can anyone in their right mind continue to support him?


Constitutional_Malfeasance 1 year, 6 months ago

Democrats have gone from comfortable confidence to near panic mode that race is Obama's to lose. The vitriol a will be thick as cookie dough within three weeks. Forsaking the public is not to be taken lightly.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 6 months ago

Romney is a fraud who can't honestly and specifically describe the plutocratic policies he would implement, so he chose to use a technique called the Gish Gallop that boils down to baffling with BS, and toadies like Krauthammer wets himself over it.


atiopatioo 1 year, 6 months ago

This election could be historic. Romney could be the first white president after a black one.

There could be a historic parade down Pennsylvania Ave. with signs proclaiming the historic event!! There could be people crying and screaming uncontrollably proclaiming their delight!!

Wouldn't that be a wonderfully historic sight to see!!!


jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

Simplistic analyses aren't convincing.

Obama is a politician, nothing more and nothing less.

He faced significant opposition from R in Congress, who have been able to block much of what he and the D would have liked to do - the D had a filibuster proof majority for about 4 months out of the last 4 years.

Romney is also a politician, and he is the significant other choice.

So, the question is simply, which one would be the better president?

All the rest is spin, distortion, idealization or demonization, etc.


tbaker 1 year, 6 months ago

Mr. Obama has been built up in the American collective consciousness to be this historic, once-in-a-generation, messianic figure of mythical proportions. He is a good looking guy who can read a speech and make us feel good when he talks philosophy. We couldn’t wait to hire him. When he is forced to justify why we should re-hire him, he is confused. He can’t understand why the tricks he used to get the job in the first place don’t work in the contract re-negotiation. Upon sober reflection, people can see we didn’t get what we paid for. The party is over. We gave him a shot and feel a lot better about ourselves for it, but charm and charisma isn’t what we need now. It’s time to get the train back on the tracks and make some adult decisions. Nuthin’ personal Barry, it’s just business.


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

--- Romney/Ryan DO want to privatize medicare insurance and social security insurance which of course brings on ADDITIONAL OVERHEAD AND RISKS which nobody should want. Dumb economics!

--- Republicans keep saying that people should be allowed to make more quicker by way of investing in Wall Street which implies playing Wall Street is a sure bet which of course it is not.....absolutely not. If an investment-firm broker made this claim to his clients, he would be arrested and charged with stock fraud. Michael Milken went to jail for several years for making just this type of promise about financial investments.

--- With corporations routinely defaulting on their pension promises, more and more workers must rely on their individual wealth to make up the difference. The stock market collapse at the turn of the millennium wiped out much of the financial wealth of middle class Americans, and the collapse of the housing bubble has wiped out much of their remaining wealth.

--- Making any cuts to Social Security now, either by raising the retirement age or cutting benefits, would have a huge impact on their remaining retirement income and are not necessary to “save the system.

--- Keep in mind Social Security does not contribute one dime to the deficit. In fact privatizing Social Security Insurance will add trillions to the debt and put the economy at further risk.

--- Have elected officials which oppose Social Security Insurance lied to the public about Social Security Insurance? Absolutely!


Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

--- Can anyone afford to be represented by the 1% also known as the republican party? No!

--- Neither women nor republican nor democrat middle class and upper middle class can afford 1% representation.

--- Neither WOMEN nor Republicans nor Democrats nor the Upper Middle Class/Middle class can afford the Republican/RINO Party!

--- Do women need more republican big government in there lives? It is on the way!

--- Public Education is a strong player in new Economic Growth yet republicans starve the system of funding which starves our teachers of resources. Which starves the desired level of education = stealing from our children’s future.

--- Trying to kill an educational institution such as Sesame Street and PBS is reckless and Irresponsible. Republicans are out of touch going on 32 years.

--- Is the market value of your home worth less than your mortgage? How much market value have home owners lost since 2007? Trillions of $$$$.

--- Republican entitlements aka home loan fraud programs have literally destroyed jobs,economies and retirement plans. And made owning a home a risky investment - now that is remarkable.


WristTwister 1 year, 6 months ago

Where was Big Bird in the VP debate? Oh, I forgot BB fired Obama. I guess Big Bird did not need the money after all. Smart bird!


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