News Flash: This Was Always a Close Election

(Flickrdinodressed2)

A two-term Obama presidency wasn't a sure thing four years ago. And it definitely isn't one now.

From the beginning, this presidential campaign has been about discontent with the incumbent versus distrust of the challenger, and about which would trump the other less than two weeks from now on Election Day. Clearly Governor Mitt Romney’s shambles of a summer—during which unease grew over a wealthy nihilist disinclined to reveal anything credible about his finances or beliefs who is contemptuous of half the country at the other end of the economic and social spectrum—was offset for some voters by 90 minutes in early October when the Republican Party nominee forcefully berated a debate opponent who dithered between bemusement and narcolepsy. To what extent in that first debate the President of the United States’ performance sucked all light and gravity out of the surrounding cosmos, as breathless punditry would have it, is now irrelevant. I remain struck by the fact that, three weeks later, no one can remember a single brilliant thing spoken that evening by Romney or a single calamitous thing said by Barack Obama, but then I’m still of the view that Pluto might be a planet. The famous John Fordian formulation about legend displacing truth is more apt in politics than anywhere else.

When Romney made his secret comments about Deadbeat Nation as populated by 47 percent of us, the right’s reflexive tendency was to circle the wagons, probably because nothing he said sounded less natural than the sunrise. When the president underwhelmed on television, the left’s tendency was to loudly and vehemently declare it a betrayal. This explains why the right wins these contests. If the next two weeks are like the last three, Romney will be elected; Republicans are correct when they argue the momentum is now theirs, the only question being whether it’s moving as quickly as they claim or has been slowed by the second debate or the third or an epidemic of sanity. This brings out among Obama supporters not only hysteria, some of which is called for, but bitter accusations that the president tossed away an election that was in the bag, that the first debate displayed what a flawed proposition Obama always has been, unwilling to fight for anything and sabotaged by “kumbaya” delusions, as a columnist in the Los Angeles Times sneered earlier this week.

Obama supporters, this is reality calling. This election was never in the bag. It has turned into exactly the sort of election that people thought it was going to be a year ago, when reasonable conjecture was that national discontent made the president an underdog to a Massachusetts businessman who was his strongest possible opponent. At least some of what happened in the first debate was inevitable no matter how well or poorly the president did. Some portion of Americans was waiting for any reason at all to abandon Obama, discontent having brought them to a precipice at which they were stopped only by questions—most raised by Romney himself—about an option they might yet be persuaded was viable. No other explanation exists for Americans so hastily setting aside not only the 47-percent remark but economic policies that make the rich richer at everyone else’s expense, clandestine tax returns and Cayman Island bank accounts, saber-rattling over Syria and Iran, stated indifference to al-Qaeda and bin Laden’s death, utter hostility to women who should be voting against Romney by the legion, CEO-style condescension in the second debate and gyroscopic wavering in the third this last Monday night, and expediency so shameless that apparently everyone now accepts it as a matter of course.

There’s one problem with the left’s dream of a bare-knuckled Obama and it is that such an Obama never would have been elected. National unity or post-partisanship or “changing the tone” or kumbaya or whatever snotty euphemism you want to give to it is what the middle voted for in 2008; that was the Obama mandate. There actually are people who think Obama has been too partisan. There actually are people who think that he fought too hard for health-care reform and invested too much. There are people who think he’s the most radical president of all time—say, have you noticed he’s black?— because they haven’t lived long enough or aren’t informed enough to know that he’s not even the most radical president of the last 100 years, or 70 or 50, or that the centerpiece of Obama’s socialist manifesto is a health-care plan that’s to the right of one proposed 40 years ago by a president who, at that time, was farther to the right than any president in the 40 years preceding him.

I feel like the Dalai Lama having to point out that a downside always accompanies an upside, and certainly there are things about Barack Obama that give pause. There’s no denying that the vaunted communication skills that put him in office often deserted him once he got there; in significant ways his immigration policies have been harsher than those of his predecessor; and coming from someone who once was a constitutional scholar, his support for the extension of the Patriot Act and of the National Defense Authorization Act with its counter-terrorist provisions is dismaying. But you have to be paying no attention or utterly lacking in perspective to know that, even more than Bill Clinton, Obama has accomplished more of potentially far-reaching good having to do with war, peace, terrorism, world respect, economic stability, financial reform, industry and jobs, health care, women’s rights and gay rights—against greater circumstantial odds and in the face of a more ruthlessly monolithic opposition—than any president of this generation or last. As it pertains to the wiring of this particular chief executive, aloofness and reserve are the price paid for a combination of judgment, temperament, intelligence, and discipline that barely a decade ago would have seemed beyond what the political process could produce anymore, and if some of us don’t stop focusing on our irritation with the first debate and start focusing on the next 12 days, we will appear very silly people in the eyes of history half a century from now, if not six months into a Romney presidency. 

Comments

Thank you. I disagree somewhat about Romney's momentum, but I agree wholeheartedly about the different reactions of the left and right to their candidates missteps, and the damage it's done.

Steve! Greetings from your constant readers at Dark Carnival Bookstore. Weirdly, your fine novels just get better: more compelling, harder to put down, completely enjoyable yet unforgettable. Now, THAT's rare ¶ I'm with you more that despite similar reservations, Obama has turned out to be a spectacular Programs President, which is just what the economy needed and needs. I mean look at this: http://www.businessinsider.com/charts-that-should-get-obama-reelected-2012-10#-5 ¶ Contrast that to Ryan's speech today reveal their policies- pure austerity. Meanwhile, Romney isnt merely flip-flopping, he is lying bigtime. Mitt will appoint Robert Bork to be his legislative co-counsel ie Bork will select all Supreme Court Judges. Your readers should look up Bork if they think the guy isnt to the right of Hitler. Bork will not only will do away with Roe V Wade, he calls the 1964 Civil Rights Act "an abomination". Bork rules in favor of corporations over governments, and governments over people. This is a PERFECT time in history to avoid Emperor Romney taking over the world for his own personal gain. But you know all that.
¶ Something important though- you may not know that a huge proportion of discouraged Dems stay at home instead of voting. (They may prefer absentee vting: check out http://www.longdistancevoter.org/absentee_ballots#.UIno2YXIQTl ) BUT! There's plenty of reason to be encouraged, because Obama has been ahead in Electoral Votes THE WHOLE TIME. Dark Carnival's Jack Rems not only turned me onto you, he turned me on to Dr Sam Wang's Princeton Election Consortium site, which more accurate than any other. Please check it out, and also read this article which proves there's more O-mentum than Ro-mentum: http://election.princeton.edu/2012/10/25/do-you-understand-polls-as-well-as-david-brooks/#more-7922
¶ Now that I've found you here (someone on PEC mentioned you) we will read ALL your articles. With pleasure. And we'll be delighted to see what you think of PEC! Because we ARE gonna win. ¶ Love always, Dark Carnival

What, you needed some excuse to launch another attack on "the left"? The "left" is too upset at Obama's performance in the first debate? You got any evidence? Oh, that's right: when "the right" stumbles, they bluster and blame the media, the moderator, or the stars but loudly defend their candidate, truth be damned. And for you "This explains why the right wins these contests."

Sorry, Charlie, the "left" lives in a truthful world. Didn't you yourself say that "the vaunted communication skills that put him in office often deserted him once he got there"? Well, Obama's "vaunted communication skills" deserted him for the first debate. It sounds like you want "the left" to super spin a bad performance -- and that would make these last two weeks so much easier. What a bunch of hog swill.

Romney gained from his first debate performance because viewers saw him as believable, as a viable candidate, even forceful. You'd like us to believe that his gains are because "the left" criticized his performance. And Romney's gains were not "inevitable". Romney gained because Obama failed to challenge his proposals or his presentation. That "discontent" you say exists didn't hear any leadership in Obama's performance.

By the way, members of "the right" have criticized Romney in the last couple of months -- why aren't you condemning them? Obama will win on November 6th if he continues showing leadership -- not "aloofness" -- and he continues condemning the proposals of his opponent.

another thing to recognize is that a re-elect potus is always relatively the same PV share vis a vis approval rating; withing +/-.5%. obama has been about 47% for 2 years. he MAY have been able to increase that closer to election but thats not usual. if the polls in april/may/jun/jul had had current DRI weightings, or realistic weightings obama would have been behind all along. and his 47-48% PV share has been really not in question. the fact that some have deluded themselves thinking obama had a CHANCE more than 50/50 at best is the interesring thing. if the weightings they are using NOW for affiliation were used then, it would have shown a consistent romney lead slghtly increasing after Oct 3. which is really what has happened. interesting how some dont see that when its been so obvious, simply by looking at the numbers. with no emotional investment, the numbers tell it quite easily. personally i dont have a dog in the fight. i will throw my vote away 3rd party as i have done for 30 years.

4 years of UNEMPLOYMENT, DEBT, DIVISION, and DECLINE. Obama is the worst, most failed President in U.S. history. And now we know that Obama is responsible not providing security for Libya. We now know that Obama refused to send help, less than 2 hours away, when it would have saved everyone's lives. Now we know the ex-seals begging for help disobeyed their dispicable orders and saved everyone at the consulate, although it was too late for for the Ambassador and his assistant. No help came because Obama refused to send it. The blood of the dead is on his hands. The father of Ty Woods, one of the seals, says the cowards in the White House are guilty of murdering his son by withholding help. And Obama is responsible for the cover up involving that false story about a spontaneous demonstration. Today we hear that Sec Clinton has documents showing that Obama refused her request for more security for Libya, and the CIA has said it never refused help to Libya the day of the attack. So who did? ....His name starts with an O! Obama shouldn't be running for reelection, he should be answering question before a Grand Jury!

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