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.

Steven DeVaux September 13, 2012 at 09:58 AM
Sure. The latest is Obama's "Jimmy Carter" moment after his "Arab Spring". He has emboldened enemies of America to attack America on American soil.
Michael Volpe September 13, 2012 at 05:22 PM
There's no doubt whatsoever that we are better off today than we were 4 years ago, when we were involved in two unfunded wars and had an economy in free fall. George Bush was given a healthy economy and a budget surplus, and left us in a mess. The list of Obama's accomplishments is real - here's my top 5: 1. Health care reform, extending coverage to millions and controlling health care costs, the number 1 cause of our fiscal problems over the long term 2. Stimulus stopped the free fall and started us growing again - and yes, it will take longer than 4 years to climb out of the hole we were in 3. Wall Street reforms to re-regulate the Financial industry that put us in that hole 4. Ended the war in Iraq and began the draw down to end the war in Afghanistan 5. Reversed the torture policies allowed by Bush - is that who we are as Americans? The list goes on. Anyone who thinks the problems we had could be solved with a snap of the finger is naive. The only thing keeping the President from doing more was a Republican party that refused to come to the table and help solve problems, preferring to be the party of 'no' and wait for the next election. That's politics, not leadership. The 'deep ideological divide' will never be bridged as long as that kind of cynicism, along with catering to the right wing 'Tea Party' xenophobes and homophobes, is the direction of the Republican party.
Dave Abernethy September 14, 2012 at 12:57 AM
He should proudly compare his actions to his words. In 2009, he warned business executives to stay away from Vegas. Today, rather than stay in D.C. to deal with a widening international crisis, he goes to Vegas to mock Republicans and raise money. His healthcare law orders Catholics to provide contraceptives, which "hurts their religious feelings", but he diminishes the First Amendment in an apology to Muslims using those same words. This President is a spectacular failure. His foreign policy of apology and appeasement has cost lives and encourages radical Islamic violence. He has impoverished America collectively and individually. He borrows from China to pay American bills even as his administration's regulations cause American manufacturing to hasten its departure to China. Having investigated the Tea Party, I can state that it has only two essential tenets: Follow the Constitution and stop the spending. Since those who want more of the Obama miasma consider those two things anathema, it is easy to understand the need to call the Tea Party "xenophobes and homophobes". Yet, the saddest thing is to witness those whose personal wealth and happiness is the direct result of American free enterprise, competition, hard work in a free land; to read that these people would rather have more of the destruction wrought by a malevolent amateur; this is truly a sign of the end of our days. I will oppose those who desire our demise by any means available.
Yooper September 15, 2012 at 04:24 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.
Steven DeVaux September 17, 2012 at 12:40 AM
Ask our Libyan consulate employees and ambassador. A repeat of Iran...and Carter never found and brought to trial those people 30 years ago. Obama shows the Democratic Party's policy of appeasement. It didn't work in the 1930's and it won't work for the Democrats now.


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