TYRRELL: Beholding the essential Obama
Well, apparently, I am not crazy after all. The polls have caught up with me, and they — after the debate — are coming around to my point of view. Mitt Romney is ahead in the race for the White House, and, let me add, he probably will be residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in 2013.
I have been saying it for weeks, recognizing that the polls are weighted too heavily toward the Democratic candidate, employ too small a sampling — as little as 9 percent of the electorate — and do not take into account the most important issue: the economy. Still, before the debate, the polls were heavily against me, and my colleagues were beginning to question my judgment — no, make that my sanity. Now they again are reassured. I am allowed to work alone in my ninth-floor office with the window open. The polls show Mr. Romney pulling ahead even in battleground states after he demonstrated in debate last week that we need something more than a ceremonial president in the White House. We live in a dangerous world.
President Obama looked great at most official functions. But beginning with Ron Suskind’s fine book “Confidence Men” and continuing on with Bob Woodward’s recent “The Price of Politics,” it has been increasingly apparent that this president does not sit through meetings — not even national security briefings — does not know how to make or implement policy and much prefers to gabble on and on, preferably with the assistance of a teleprompter. To think the official party line on Mr. Obama has been that he is eloquent. I think the wind came out of that legend when, in the debate the other night, Mr. Romney said, “Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” All true-blue Obama fans — and even I — expected the president to come back with any one of a half-dozen witty zingers. How about a rude reference to Bain Capital? Yet Mr. Obama looked glassy-eyed, and the ref, Jim Lehrer, stepped in. Moreover, Mr. Obama continued to be wobbly and evasive in response to Mr. Romney’s challenges. Some Obama fans blamed the ref, though if not for him, Mr. Obama could have suffered bodily injury.
After nearly four years in the White House, our ceremonial president is presiding over the weakest recovery of modern times. He presides over low growth, high unemployment and trillion-dollar deficits every year of his presidency. All he is offering the electorate in the next four years is more of the same. Jimmy Carter could not get re-elected with such a shaky strategy, and neither will Mr. Obama. Furthermore, last month his foreign policy went poof right in front of him. His nonsense about leading from behind, deferring to international organizations and paying obeisance to Arab militants has been seen for what it is — an invitation to invade our diplomatic installations in foreign lands. In Libya, thugs slaughtered our ambassador. The evidence is clear — to wit, the ambassador was seeking more security at the time of his death and being rebuffed. Remember Benghazi!
The debate last week was a classic. Mr. Romney put together the finest showing of any presidential candidate in the history of televised debates. He did it in speaking of his record and in speaking of Mr. Obama’s record. Yet he did something more. James Rosen of Fox News noticed it and remarked lapidarily: Mr. Romney “delivered one of the great defenses of the free market ever given to an audience of this size. Obama seemed intimidated and adrift with the material. His constructions were lengthy and complex, whereas Romney’s were clear and commanding and fluid. Even if Romney loses on Nov. 6, this still goes down as an epic electronic-age primer on various models of economics that Ronald Reagan couldn’t even deliver; and Milton Friedman never addressed an audience of this size. At all points, Romney returned to the theme of competition as a driver of reduced costs and improved quality.” Mr. Rosen concluded, “Romney also delivered the sharpest elbow of the night, with the reference to Obama’s campaign contributors: the closest thing to the pressing of a charge of corruption.”
Now let me make a prediction. Mr. Romney will not lose on Nov. 6. Mr. Obama will continue to perform wretchedly in debate. He is not going to do better. What you saw last week was the essential Barack Obama, community organizer and part-time senator.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is the author most recently of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).
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