New Obama campaign ad — nice retort to Romney and his “better off” question.

There are 50-something days until the election. The debates are still ahead of us. All sorts of things, from the global economy to the Middle East, could blow up and change everything between now and then. The popular vote nationwide is pretty close.

Nevertheless — it’s lookin’ good, people.

The folks at Princeton Election Consortium are saying that there are very few undecided or even persuadable voters left, and in order to win, Romney would have to win just about all of them while hoping a big chunk of Obama voters get lost on the way to the polling place.

The New York Times reports that voters now trust Obama more than Romney to grow the economy. Further,

With their conventions behind them and the general election campaign fully engaged, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably than the Republican Party. The poll also found that more likely voters give an edge to Mr. Obama on foreign policy, Medicare and addressing the challenges of the middle class. The only major issue on which Mr. Romney held an advantage was handling the federal budget deficit.

John Heilemann writes of this week’s tragedy in Libya,

Moments like this are not uncommon in presidential elections, and when they come, they tend to matter. For unlike the posturing and platitudes that constitute the bulk of what occurs on the campaign trail, big external events provide voters with something authentic and valuable: a real-time test of the temperament, character, and instincts of the men who would be commander-in-chief. And when it comes to the past week, the divergence between the resulting report cards could hardly be more stark.

Anyone doubting the potential significance of that disparity need only think back to precisely four years ago, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a worldwide financial panic. In the ten days that followed, Obama put on a master class in self-possession and unflappability under pressure; his rival, John McCain, did the opposite. When the smoke cleared, the slight lead McCain had held in the national polls was gone and Obama had seized the lead. Though another month remained in the campaign, the race was effectively over.

For Romney, the first blaring sign that his reaction to the assault on the consulate in Benghazi had badly missed the mark was the application of the phrase “Lehman ­moment” to his press availability on the morning of September 12. Here was ­America under attack, with four dead on foreign soil. And here was Romney, defiantly refusing to adopt a tone of sobriety, solemnity, or seriousness, instead attempting to score cheap political points, doubling down on his criticism from the night before that the Obama administration had been “disgraceful” for “sympathiz[ing]” with the attackers—criticism willfully ignoring the chronology of events, the source of the statement he was pillorying, the substance of the statement, and the circumstances under which it was made.

Now, Republicans have gotten away with this, and worse, in the past. But there are many indicators that the press is so disgusted with Romney they’re refusing to portray his performance through the usual soft-focus lens they reserve for GOP candidates.

This bipartisan condemnation would have been bad enough in itself, but its negative effects were amplified because it fed into a broader narrative emerging in the media across the ideological spectrum: that Romney is losing, knows he is losing, and is starting to panic. This story line is, of course, rooted in reality, given that every available data point since the conventions suggests that Obama is indeed, for the first time, opening up a lead outside the margin of ­error nationally and in the battleground states. So the press corps is now on the lookout for signs of desperation in Romney and is finding them aplenty—most vividly in his reaction to Libya, but even before that, in his post-convention appearance on Meet the Press, where he embraced some elements of Obamacare (only to have his campaign walk back his comments later the same day).

The peril to Romney’s candidacy of being seen through the lens of desperation can’t be overstated. The paramount strategic objective of any campaign is to maintain control of the candidate’s public image—and if the media filter begins to view his every move through a dark or unflattering prism, things can quickly spin out of control, to a point where nothing he says or does is taken at face value. “Romney is in a very bad place,” says another senior Republican strategist. “He’s got the Republican intelligentsia second-guessing him, publicly and privately. The party base has never trusted him and thinks that everything bad it ever thought about him is being borne out now. And he’s got the media believing that he can’t win. He’s right on the edge of a self-­fulfilling downward spiral.”

And, frankly, he’s got only himself to blame. He’ll blame others, of course.

Indeed, per Ben Jacobs, Fred Barnes has already published a kind of pre-postmortem of Romney’s failed campaign. Barnes blames media bias first and foremost, of course, but toward the end he comes around to admitting that Romney has failed to make the election into a referendum on Obama and instead must present himself as the better choice, and Mittens doesn’t seem to know how to do that.

One other factor that Barnes doesn’t mention is the Republican agenda itself. The fact is, the Republican agenda is the same one George W. Bush went by as his governing philosophy. Tax cuts? Check. Deregulation? Check. Seriously, can you think of a single policy in which Mittens differs significantly from Dubya? I can’t.

Worse, this past week Mittens seemed determine to reprise Dubya’s “lone cowboy” role as the swaggerer in chief, yapping about “resolve in our might.” Apparently Mitt thinks all we have to do is wave our almighty military at the world and it will bend to our will.

I have believed all along that once most Americas focused on the election and got a good look at Mitt, they’d decide to stick with President Obama. Seems that’s how things are playing out at the moment.

Update: See Jonathan Chait.

22 thoughts on “Forward

  1. One other factor that Barnes doesn’t mention is the Republican agenda itself. The fact is, the Republican agenda is the same one George W. Bush went by as his governing philosophy. Tax cuts? Check. Deregulation? Check. Seriously, can you think of a single policy in which Mittens differs significantly from Dubya? I can’t.

    That’s one reason why Dubya is as far off stage as possible. “George who?”

    I’m sure it hasn’t always been this way, but this has been the GOP platform, more or less as long as I’ve been alive (pushing 60 yrs old), and probably even earlier. And they do everything possible to make it seem new and fantastically better than what the Democrats offer, even though the results have been a complete disaster. Keeping silent about He Who Must Not Be Named is part of it.

    I do like the phrase “Lehman Moment”. Obama’s won phase 1 hands down, by his response versus Romney’s. Now the trick is to wrap it up quickly (phase 2), nice and tidy, so it doesn’t metastatize into something like Carter’s hostage crisis (“Day 343” and counting…).

    Thinking about the Ruth Marcus piece – even in Versailles, it doesn’t look good for R-Money.

    Great ad – loved the one-two ending, Bill Clinton then Obama.

  2. Let’s hope this is the case.

    Poor Mitt is getting “Gore-ed!”
    It couldn’t happen to a more deserving “Republican!”

    And all while wearing crisply ironed, button-down shirts with the sleeves rolled-up like real working people – supposedly purchased at Costco (uh, YEAH – whatever…) – instead of “earth-tones”; and really, really, openly, and in-your-face lying, instead of what Al Gore was accused of, when he basically told the truth, only to be scoffed at when it was exaggerated.

    Let’s hope that on November 7th, we can all cheer the sinking of The Mittanic – with all Senate and House hands on board!

  3. Don’t get too delirious – voter suppression — voter intimidation at the polls.

    GOTV — and learn how to fight back at your polling place.

  4. About getting lost on the way to the polls, the county I live in has ONLY mail in voting. Our ballots should arrive about October 19, we mark them, and then drop them off at many, various places with voting boxes (mostly at POs and shopping centers). I can hardly wait. I think the whole state of Oregon is mail in. It has proven to be very successful so far.

  5. Here in Uber-Semi-Sorta-Kinda-Mostly- Liberal (in urban areas, and some suburban areas) NY, we have two choices:
    -Go and vote on Elections Day.
    – Fill out an Absentee Ballot.

    No extra days. Not extended hours. Just 6am to 9pm.

  6. A couple of thoughts on polls.

    The only one that matters in in November. Second, Nate is, of course, THE man but I have been going out every Friday to Real Clear Politics, which does an average of the most recent polls and has several electoral maps and descriptions of changes in State status on the maps. Like Nate, I feel like they are unbiased in their appraisal of the numbers. (If you want facts with a lot of spin, you can find it in conservative or liberal flavors – but I like my facts & numbers straight up.)

    The observation that there are so few undecided voters is valid – make that crucial – but it has to be broken down in the swing states. (RCP lets you do that.) If Obama takes Florida, it’s game over for Money BooBoo- Obama’s’s been polling a 1% lead fairly steadily, which means Florida is entirely a question of turnout.

    Last, as you mentioned, the debates. The last of 3 is on foreign policy. And Mitt is trying to spin his latest screw-up with the expectation voters will soon forget – but it’s a land mine that he can’t avoid in the LAST debate. Ooooops.

    In the first two debates, if the slide in the polls continue, Mitt will have to go on attack. Romney has never reminded me of Joe Montana, who was the consummate quarterback under pressure. I predict Romney will choke – it may be ugly enough cause some decided conservatives to not vote at all.

  7. One other thing – (I promised to e a pest.) The Sunday talking heads will be really interesting tomorrow. I may even watch. Question – will the media go after Mitt for the way he tried to use the blood of Americans in Lybia only hours after they were killed in a craven political lie?

    Some will – some won’t, but I think that Mitt will have far fewer defenders than normal. So far, when Mitt gets bad press, his response is to limit exposure to those networks where he gets good press. The press may not take too well to the Romney campaign trying to spank them for reporting the facts.

    Mitt vs the MSM might become a theme – let’s see.

  8. “Mitt= N/A (No Apology) – That’s his whole raison d’etre.”

    He’s writing a book: “The Audacity of (a) Dope”. Beyond “truthiness” into complete fantasy.

  9. At the VVS, Icky Sticky Ricky finally says something I agree with:

    “We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.”

    Not the first part, but the last.
    In my opinion, the media defer to these religious loon’s WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much.
    Just turn on any cable news show, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some loon like Donohue (and I don’t mean Phil), or Perkins (and I don’t mean the actor – ok, the BETTER actor) opining and grifting.

    No, Ricky, you’ll never have the ‘smart people’ on your side – not as long as you ‘value’ the stupid.

  10. Liz Cheney is on ABC’s panel, so is Jonathan Karl, and the the ubiquitous George Will.

    And all of them have the chutspah to yap about the military, and argue about it, with GENERAL CLARK!

    And of course, they want to bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran.

    This now makes over 30 years that Iran is 2-3 years, OR, GASP!, 6-9 months away from a nuclear weapon.

    And Lizard Cheney just said that Israel had better intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear program – yes, you heard that right – IRAQ!

    Daddies little pitbull deferment never gives logic a chance.

    What other Assistant to the Assistant to some overnment agency gets on national TV this often?

    WHY IS THIS WOMAN ON MY TV?!?!?!?!?!

  11. Tammy Baker, a military spouse originally from Texas, said she thinks Romney should sit down for “fireside chats” with the American people so they can get to know him better. “I’m not talking boxers and briefs here, you know. I’m not interested in that,” she said. “But I do feel that he’s pretty rigid, and because of that we don’t get a chance to really get to know that person.”

    Anybody up for some fireside chats with the old mittster?

  12. Swami,
    Not unless Mitt’s the one on fire.

    And if Mitt WAS on fire, I wouldn’t piss on him to help him out.

    And Ms. Baker, the MITT2012 Cyborg, doesn’t have any empathy software, so having fireside chats won’t help that dick. Sitting by that fire, he’ll just be a warmer dick.

  13. Anybody up for some fireside chats with the old mittster?

    Hell, all I caught from Tammy’s remarks were the words “boxers” and “rigid,” so in that case, sure!

  14. “Apparently Mitt thinks all we have to do is wave our almighty military at the world and it will bend to our will. ”

    That’s an important point I think, because it’s basically the foreign policy equivalent of tough/manditory sentencing. The idea is deterrant but if that fails one next needs competence and they always fail at that point.

  15. gulag…If there is a God, Mitt’s gonna burn in hell..I suspect he’ll get a front seat in hell. He might even get a slot on Jerry Falwell’s first string team of Satan’s shovelers. I hear Jerry’s slimmed down a bit, he’s now down to his fighting weight, and he’s second to none with a coal shovel.


    Could be Paulie’s seeing the hand writing on the wall and is trying to save his candidacy, but I’m seeing it as Paulie laying the foundations for when he’s got to scrub his association with Romney off his conservative resume..Sorta like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Hey aren’t you the one who ran with Mitt Romney? No,no,no, get away from me…. I don’t know him.”

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