On Thursday, Bill Clinton once more telegraphed that he considers Obama a lightweight who should not have bested his wife. Bluntly contradicting the Obama campaign theme that Romney is a heartless corporate raider, Clinton told CNN that the Republican’s record at Bain was “sterling.”
On Friday, an ugly job market report led to the stock market’s worst day of the year. As the recovery flat-lined, the president conceded to a crowd at a Honeywell factory in Golden Valley, Minn., that “our economy is still facing some serious headwinds” and getting sucked further into Europe’s sinkhole. In depressing imagery for the start of the summer campaign, cable channels carried the red Dow arrow pointing down while Obama spoke; the Dow wiped out all of its 2012 gains.
The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters. His campaign is offering Obama 2012 car magnets for a donation of $10; cat collars reading “I Meow for Michelle” for $12; an Obama grill spatula for $40, and discounted hoodies and T-shirts. How the mighty have fallen.
Once glowing, his press is now burning.“To a very real degree, 2008’s candidate of hope stands poised to become 2012’s candidate of fear,” John Heilemann wrote in New York magazine, noting that because Obama feels he can’t run on his record, his campaign will resort to nuking Romney.
In his new book,“A Nation of Wusses,” the Democrat Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania, wonders how “the best communicator in campaign history” lost his touch.
The legendary speaker who drew campaign crowds in the tens of thousands and inspired a dispirited nation ended up nonchalantly delegating to a pork-happy Congress, disdaining the bully pulpit, neglecting to do any L.B.J.-style grunt work with Congress and the American public, and ceding control of his narrative.
As president, Obama has never felt the need to explain or sell his signature pieces of legislation — the stimulus and health care bills — or stanch the flow of false information from the other side.
“The administration lost the communications war with disastrous consequences that played out on Election Day 2010,” Rendell writes, and Obama never got credit for the two pieces of legislation where he reached for greatness.