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Where Obama Went Wrong

Most of the speakers at last week's Democratic National Convention whipped up the partisan crowd into a frenzy. Here's why I think the main event — President Obama's nomination acceptance speech — fell flat.

 

The crowd was ready. The delivery, as always, was masterful. But in the end, President Obama's nomination acceptance speech spoke more for what it wasn't, in fact, than what it was. 

Republican nominee Mitt Romney has made a habit of criticizing Obama's habit of criticizing America on foreign shores. Many political observers — including the Tampa Bay Times' respected PolitiCheck columnists — found Romney's claims grossly distorted. Naturally, conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation disagree.

Nevertheless, for someone so willing to acknowledge prior administrative policy failures, Obama found little fault with himself or his way of doing business over the past nearly-four years — with the exception of not doing a better job selling his narrative to the American people.

Perhaps America has become accustomed to his extraordinary prowess on the stump. To me, his speech sounded like leftover meatloaf — satisfying when fresh out of the oven yesterday, but warmed over grease today.

Obama made his biggest mistake of the campaign by using the convention to energize his base. He didn't need to energize the crowd — they were already pumped from Joe Biden's terrific speech, which visibly moved Michelle Obama, and the fascinating entry of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro into the national consciousness.

What he needed to do was sway Independent voters. And I don't think he got the job done.

Wouldn't it have been so much more refreshing to hear him acknowledge that America is not in a better place than it was when he was first elected? Unemployment is 8.1 percent. Food and gas prices are the highest they've ever been. Housing is in the toilet. The Middle East and Europe threaten our welfare, as does China. 

(And — by the way — those 4.5 million jobs? Do yourself a favor and fact check that number. It's just a big, fat quarter-truth.)

Perhaps it would have been wiser for him to take a different tack in his nomination speech than when he was first elected. Obama's failure to cultivate relationships inside Congress — highlighted by his hiring of assertive-is-putting-it-mildly Rahm Emanuel and his arrogant hey-we-won-the-election-so-back-off style of dealmaking — made it difficult for him to get anything done, even when the Democrats controlled Congress.

Here's what's now the worst-kept secret in town: I voted for Obama in 2008. Although I liked and respected McCain (I still do), I couldn't tolerate his choice of Sarah Palin for VP. At the time I thought: 'This is your first decision under pressure, and she's the best you can do?' Plus, it smacked of pandering, which I find insulting.

But I digress.

I voted for Obama because I desperately wanted to see his vision of America come true. A more tolerant, less aggressive US of A. But things are worse now than they've ever been, and when I think that 11 years ago our Congressmen and women stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang God Bless America impromptu, I know that Obama is not the man to bridge this nation's deep ideological divide.

And this is his deepest failure. The varnish on this cool customer and undeniably brilliant community organizer who made hope and change sound so good is faded and scratched. Obama's inability to admit that his administration has made any mistakes, and the stubborn insistence that we are better off now than we were four years ago, demeans the intelligence of the man on the street.

I guess what I'm saying is, if the Democrats have to spend three days convincing America that Americans are better off, then we probably aren't.

Peggy Lee September 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Great article. To the point and Right On! I must admit Obama was the 1st candidate I ever donated money to. But I ended up voting for McCain because though I wanted change desperately and I wanted US out of the Middle East immediately, I realized he was a fraud. And it was upsetting to me because I wanted to believe what he said. And his biggest mistake, which will cost him the reelection, was forgetting what Ronald Reagan said "it"s the economy stupid"., not health care. Fix that first and he could have done whatever he wanted.
Mariola Camacho September 12, 2012 at 01:21 PM
"it"s the economy stupid" was Bill Clinton's campaign .. not Reagan's.
Lisa Bigelow September 12, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Thanks for reading. Mariola, you're correct. That quote is attributed to James Carville, who ran Clinton's 1992 campaign. And Peggy, I agree. Healthcare never should have been the top priority. Lisa B.
mary September 12, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I absolutely agree with the content of this article - well done! I pray that the events last evening in Libya and Egypt serve to sway those voters under any illusion that we would be better off with another 4 years of Obama, that a future with Obama at the hemlm will only hasten conflict and acts of war to our shores again. How can there be any doubt that there is no respect for America overseas under the current administration? That does not mean one wishes to go to war. Far from it. Having a strong and resolute America hopefully goes a long way towards dissuading groups such as the one that attacked the US Embassy in Libya and killed our Ambassador, from even thinking of doing so. I am truly scared that another Obama administration brings these conflicts back home. I was in NYC on 9/11 and know 2 people who were killed. It terrifies me that Obama 2012 ushers in a time of complacency again.
mary September 12, 2012 at 06:16 PM
And before anyone brings it up - the build up of Al Qaeda threats happened under Clinton, who did not address them.
Roy A. Abramowitz September 12, 2012 at 08:53 PM
They massacre my American brothers and sisters and all this President can do is apologize to them. Hopefully this lack of leadership ends in January 2013.
Four Jacks September 12, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Amen.
feo mesics September 13, 2012 at 12:13 AM
for Roy Abominibal: who is the "they" and why not blame the real problem creators: W. BUSH AND CHENEY? More shameful revisionist history even from you, who should no better!
mary September 13, 2012 at 11:19 AM
You are mistaken feo mesics. Clinton did not step on the threats while in office, although apparently he had ample time and opportunity to do so. Obama seems to be going down the same road. Additionally, you appear to have forgotten the mood of this country when the USA struck back initially in Afghanistan.
Esprit de Corps September 13, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Excuse me, Mr./Ms. Mesics but your nom de plume "Feo" is a little unusal. I looked it up on Google translate and the translations were: ugly, unsightly, nasty, foul, homely, bad-looking, ill-favored, tacky, ungraceful, miscreated, ungraceful and miscreated. Perhaps you could consider a better descriptive name for your nom de plume. Maybe when you wrote Roy Abominabal you meant Hannibal after Hannibal Barca famous military leader who knew how to employ elephants to climb mountains. We all make mistakes in typing, grammar and other things. Don't disturb yourself. Have a nice day, please.
Roy A. Abramowitz September 13, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Thank you Espirit de Corps.
Stephanie September 13, 2012 at 11:27 PM
President Obama never apologized, he condemned the actions of the attackers. The US embassies did, and that was before the attacks even occurred. And as Americans, we should be glad they apologized. A movie that horrifically trashes another religion is completely un-American. Yes we have free speech, but we are a nation of religious tolerance. So I believe that a movie as disgusting as "Innocence of Muslims" does not fall under "free speech". It's beyond offensive and does not represent who we are as Americans. The attack on the US embassy was extremely tragic, and my thoughts are with the families who lost their loved ones.
Let the Demolition Proceed! September 14, 2012 at 01:12 AM
So, the guy who made the video is Jewish and claims to be American, and claims free speech. So the irrational protestors blame Americans over the actions of this idiot.
mary September 14, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Since it is a criminal offence to threaten the US President, perhaps it is time to pass a law here which makes it a criminal offence to incite religious groups....or something along those lines. Perhaps the person who made this film ought to be held accountable for the deaths in Benghazi on some level.
Yooper September 15, 2012 at 04:22 AM
It has taken you a while, but you have finally dropped your "fair and balanced" facade (I don't recall your exact phrasing). You are absolutely entitled to your opinions. At least you are no longer pretending that you are objective and unbiased.
S Tadik September 15, 2012 at 06:39 AM
At the time of the attack in Libya, there were NO MCESG (Marine Corps Embassy Security Group) personnel to guard embassy personnel. The rules of engagement (who does what when intruders get beyond where the line of defense is established) are established by the State Department for those forces which are located at the embassy/consulate location. The government has declined to release such rules on the grounds of security. Wouldn't you think that given what Libya was like and the goings on of the Arab spring that prudent State Department administrators would put extra security in place? Did they think private contractors were enough? Any answers on this one? The Americans who died in performing their duties are heroes and deserve our respect but it would seem they were overwhelmed and could have used additional support. Will we know what happened? This wouldn't seem to be something to blame President Bush for, would it? Are the Russians right in Syria? Are Assad's opponents worse than he is? Is democracy compatible with Islamic Republic rule even with elections? Hitler had elections, too. Apparently the Marines handled things well in Egypt which has a longer-standing MCESG detachment. Here is more detail. http://www.breitbart.com/big-peace/2012/09/14/state-department-rules-of-engagement-kept-marines-out-of-tripoli-as-well-as-benghazi-in-libya
K. Turtle September 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
So, Stephanie, do you think this is offensive and doesn’t fall under free speech? Piss Christ is a 1987 photograph by the American artist and photographer Andres Serrano. It depicts a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist's urine. The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition which was sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, a United States Government agency that offers support and funding for artistic projects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ Well, it repulsed me but, since we live in this wonderful country that gives us the right to FREE SPEECH, this artist didn’t have to worry about being imprisoned in our country and our government didn’t condone any violence toward him or calls for his death. So, although this, so called, film is repulsive, those involved in its production should be protected by our right to free speech. Therefore, free speech DOES represent who we are as Americans and our government shouldn’t say differently.

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