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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.

aNGIE mCkELVEY September 11, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Do you really think this country would be better off in the hands of Mitt Romney, a man who changes his opinion daily and won't releASE HIS TAX RETURNS? aNGIE mCkELVEY
CuriousOrange September 11, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Ms. Bigelow's comment -- "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?" -- is merely wishful. Like the rest of the GOP, she would find it so refreshing -- if it were only true. The facts are that four years ago, the nation's economy was in such a tailspin that candidate Sen. McCaine was called out for saying, "Our economy, I think, is still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong." --Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 15, 2008. For some time, in spite of GOP blockades (such as the 'debt-ceiling fracas'), the economy has been growing, creating private sector jobs while public employees are suffering massive layoffs. Pursuing the dream of a one-term Obama, the GOP has opposed Pres. Obama's stimulus, which provided huge tax breaks and construction work. They are bitter about Obamacare, deficts that date mostly to the Bush Administration, and the Federal Reserve's low interest rates and other economic stimulants. They voted against all further measures, such as the 2011 American Jobs Act, which would have created another 2 million jobs, offered tax credits to businesses hiring vets, modernized public schools, raised capital for small businesses, and provided a $1500 tax cut for the average American family. Dream on, Ms. Bigelow, but please do not publish it as truth.
Anne K. Mulligan September 11, 2012 at 01:29 PM
As CuriousOrange notes, the problem with the last four years wasn't President Obama, but Republicans in Congress who publicly stated that their Number One Priority was not jobs or the economy, but making Obama a one-term president.
Lisa Bigelow September 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Thanks for reading and commenting. We'll have to agree to disagree on the economic matters. But the fact is, from day one President Obama did little to bring the country together, as he promised to do. His lack of Congressional experience led directly to his failure to relationship-build across the aisle, as Senator McCain has done for many, many years (in fact, he counts Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman among his good friends). His strict ideologue's viewpoint made it difficult for him to do the thing he needed to do the most: compromise with Republicans and acknowledge that any increase in revenue must be accompanied by spending cuts (meaning, make changes to social programs that provide a must-have safety net but require revamping so our country can afford them). He actually got Boehner to agree to a revenue increase during the budget nightmare last year, but then Obama reneged and demanded more, resulting in a political stalemate. It's time for everyone to share the responsibility for our country's problems -- endlessly whining that "it's all the Republicans" fault just rings hollow now. And I think Independents don't buy it. Thanks again. Lisa B. p.s. I agree that W spent money like a drunken sailor. Totally out of control.
CuriousOrange September 12, 2012 at 03:24 PM
Why not read S&P's opinion -- why they downgraded the US Treasury -- before you decide we can 'agree to disagree?' "Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act." http://www.standardandpoors.com/ratings/articles/en/us/?assetID=1245316529563&ffFix=yes

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