This election is not turning out the way President Obama had expected. Perhaps that is why he has looked so uncomfortable in his three debates with the suddenly debonair Mitt Romney. Possibly, Mr. Obama had expected something more from the former governor of Massachusetts, the CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the former head of Bain Capital -- and, incidentally, is not Bain Capital assuming the same demonic role in this contest between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney as Halliburton industries once played in the campaigns of Bush-Cheney? It is, I suppose, an asset that in all their years of adult life, neither Mr. Obama nor Joe Biden has ever suffered any exposure to the dark doings of private-sector employment, none whatsoever. It is a dispensation that has kept them pure, almost virginal.
The president in his high-minded innocence aspired to something more in this presidential race, something higher. I think he wanted to experience the clash and bang of Great Ideas in these debates. First, he would propose his view of a healthy prosperous America with budgets balanced and deficits receding. Then the challenger would acknowledge his view of the world. Mr. Romney would manfully step forward and describe the endless bread lines that his economic policies would engender. There would be the Hoovervilles, the soup kitchens, the scenes of little children, their noses running, huddled waiting in Dickensian stupefaction for their parents to return from the pollution-belching factories, perhaps with a loaf of bread for their starving families, or perhaps not. Meanwhile, zoom, zoom, the millionaires and billionaires motor by in their Bentleys and Rolls-Royces and Priuses.
Frankly, the way these debates have turned out has got to leave the president feeling a little low. Why could Mr. Romney not tell his audience the other night that he has not a clue how to run foreign policy? Why does he not acknowledge having no idea as to the name of the capital of Ghana or the gross national product of Burkina Faso? Why is Mr. Romney so dishonest? A good, healthy debate is what Mr. Obama was seeking, and for all his high-minded efforts he has gotten deception and arrant lies. He should have known that the Republicans would come up with a candidate like Mr. Romney. After all, was it not the Republican Party that came up with Richard Nixon?
Now we are coming down to the wire. There are only a dozen days left before Election Day. Polls have Mr. Romney ahead and the trend is with him. One battleground state after another is falling. Over the past 150 weeks, since November 2009, when Americans were polled on job approval or whether Mr. Obama should be re-elected, less than 50 percent have favored the president. The only weeks he polled above 50 percent were the week our troops shot Osama bin Laden and the week following the Democratic National Convention. No president with such a string of unfavorable ratings can expect to be re-elected. I fear the White House is catching on. Mr. Obama is a goner, unless the Democrats can turn out the vote in select cemeteries around the country.
Now comes John Fund with a new book to tell us that voter fraud is a real possibility in 2012 and for years to come if Americans do not get serious about the problem of stuffing the ballot box. In "Who's Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk" (Encounter, 2012), written with Hans von Spakovsky, Mr. Fund outlines the problem. He talks about how voter fraud played an important role in recent history, for instance, in the passage of Obamacare. He talks about a salutary trend in the states favoring photo identification. Much as we demand photo identification before buying alcohol, cashing a check or, in our larger cities, entering an office building, we ought to require it of voters. Yet some, in the main Democrats, complain that this is bigoted. It is nothing of the kind. It is an instance of taking the democratic process seriously. It assures the value of every vote that is cast.
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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