Aside from the fans who still faint at his events, the thrill is long gone for most of those who were enraptured by Barack Obama in 2008. The Road We’ve Traveled, the Obama campaign video released last night, is a glossy, high-production effort to rekindle the flame. The story it weaves is inspiring. Things were wretched in January 2009, we’re reminded: the economy in freefall, health care costs skyrocketing, auto companies nearly bankrupt, Osama Bin Laden on the loose. And Obama, intrepidly sacrificing political expediency at every turn, made one “tough call” after another and saved the day. The message for disillusioned progressives couldn’t be clearer: See? He really has kicked ass! The problem is that this portrait of a resolute, take-charge, damn-the-critics president doesn’t jibe with Obama’s image. Or with reality. He’s had genuine successes. He has virtues that have served him, and us, well. But he is not the sort of presidential superhero, or Oval Office Braveheart, that The Road We’ve Traveled portrays.
Contrast the video with one of its precursors: A New Beginning, the 18-minute convention video produced for Ronald Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984. It’s as corny and sentimental as the Obama video is hero-worshipful. But, like Reagan’s more famous Morning in America ad, its montages of happy and purposeful Americans worked like a charm because they blended so perfectly with Reagan’s persona and with his mythical vision of the country. There’s one other striking difference: The Reagan video focuses on “regular Americans.” They talk about how things are better, they marry, they frolic with their kids, they sing hymns on military bases, they put up new buildings and ride tractors. Obama’s video is all about Obama. The more accurate title for The Road We’ve Traveled would be The Road We Want to Convince You He’s Traveled.
So They Say
“I always say it'd be really hard to lose an election to President Obama, but we've got just the team that could do it.”
—Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, on Hardball with Chris Matthews
Daily Meme: The Mysteries of Newt
- Why is Gingrich still in the race again?
- Especially when he thinks a good strategy is comparing himself to maybe the worst president ever.
- Perhaps because Santorum needs him?
- Or not.
- Or because Romney needs him?
- Or not.
- Because he has “big ideas on brain science?”
- Or is he, frankly, just crazy?
What We're Writing
- Jamelle Bouie: How the Republicans’ disparagement of Sonia Sotomayor poisoned the well with Latino voters.
- Paul Waldman: Rick Santorum will not emerge from the campaign as the leader of the GOP’s conservative wing.
What We're Reading
- Ahead of next Tuesday’s Illinois primary, Romney is outspending Santorum 7 to 1…
- …but Santorum got a $1.8 million boost from the secretive right-wing supergroup, the Council for National Policy.
- He also collects a higher percentage of small donations than Obama.
- David Corn: Inside the White House the night they got Bin Laden.
- Obama speaks out against North Carolina’s proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
- Peggy Noonan identifies “The real war on women.”
- None of Missouri’s three Republican candidates for Senate knows the minimum wage.
- Santorum wants to lead a war on porn.
Poll of the Day
Two new Illinois polls show Romney leading Santorum by 6 and 9 points ahead of next Tuesday’s primary, with Gingrich and Paul far behind.