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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.

Natalie Myers September 13, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I feel Obama and the rest of his party set out to show The U.S. was one country, or one 'family'. In this, he succeeded. And, we ARE better off than we were at the end of the 'little Bush' presidency. Obama was handed more on his plate, even before he was sworn in, than any other president. EVER!!! Imagine a U.S. with with Romney as it's president, who can't even open his mouth without offending SOMEONE!!?? he would set us back 50 years! His motto seems to be If you aren't rich and privileged, you should'nt be here. And he'll make sure you're not by making you starve because you wont have money for food. Die, from illnesses you can't afford to get treatment for. And, he'll keep you poor by not allowing you to save money in taxes, not offer welfare to people truly in need, and, by not extending credit to further your education. Get down and stay down! His ideal ?! Seems Like it!
Judy Starr September 13, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Thank you, Lisa Bigelow, for what you've just said. Regarding the observations just posted, I'd like to suggest an alternative view, namely that Romney-Ryan's approach can lead us away from leaning on other places for finances (e.g. China has been buying our bonds to finance our debt), can lead us away from a government getting so big that we may not be able to afford it, AND can lead us to a situation where people can be financially independent rather than be receiving government benefits -- that, again, we may not be able to afford if our private sector continues to dwindle. That present economic approach has shown it can not do that. Unemployment remains high, the recession has not lifted, and, last but not least, our enemies are emboldened and are gaining ground on us. (When was the last time one of our ambassadors was murdered, and on duty in what essentially is American soil abroad? Isn't anybody scared?) Sorry, but I respectfully submit that we are poorer and less secure than we dreamed we'd be those four years ago. OK, granted, we had problems then, but the problem now is that the problems this administration's policies have not been making the problems better, but rather worse.
Saint Stephen September 13, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Your unsubatantiated accusations are absolutely idiotic. liberal nitwits said the same nonsense when Ronald Reagan was running against Carter (who up unitl now was the worst president in generations). but the country not only survived under Reagan, it prospered. Regardless of politically correct jibberish spouted by Obama and supporters like you, we are worse off in almost every respect than before he came was elected to a job for which he has proven totally unqualified. After almost four years of messing things up and dividing our country, it is much too late to blame it on his predecessors. Leadership requires taking responsibilty. Obama's record speaks for itself. Only idiots, misguided ideologues, and racially motivated voters would think that he has earned another term.

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