It was a Romney who has appeared in flashes over the years, but then frustratingly veered away. Suddenly, he seemed comfortable and commanding — like he’d finally arrived at where he wanted to be, like he planned to be staying for a while. When his moment came, the biggest in his political life, the guy who “couldn’t connect” knew he was connecting like there was no tomorrow. And maybe there isn’t. He was the very picture of the happy warrior — somewhere, at least for this night, Ronald Reagan and Bill Buckley were smiling.
As Romney cruised along, Lehrer, unable to break the momentum, worried aloud that time was flying by. Romney smiled a winner’s smile: “It’s fun, isn’t it?” Let’s play two today. He pounded on jobs and prosperity and growth for another couple of minutes.
When, at last, his time came to respond, the president slumped. “Jim,” he sighed, “you may want to move on to another topic.” But, Obama being Obama, he then mindlessly rehashed the meme of Romney as George Bush 2.0, making “the same sales pitch that was made in 2001 and 2003, and we ended up with the slowest job growth in 50 years.” Um . . . not exactly: Those bad old days — even after a shocking terrorist attack ripped the nation’s financial capital — featured unemployment rates consistently under 6 percent. Actually, the slowest job growth in 50 years is happening now.
Are voters going to buy Obama’s sales pitch? I don’t think so. To the president’s evident chagrin, the 2012 campaign stretch run is not a 2008 rerun. He is actually being vetted this time. Americans are learning that he is not so much prodigy as media creation: the original “birther,” whose memoir turns up more fiction each time it is scrutinized.
Speaking of fiction, an inconvenient videotape resurfaced the day before the debate. It was from 2007 in Virginia: Senator Barack Obama, presidential stars in his eyes, speaking to a largely black audience of religious leaders and inciting racial animus.
To be generous, Obama’s performance is disgusting. Cynically adopting the black dialect of the American South, a dialect utterly alien to him, he demagogues against Washington’s supposedly selective waivers of the Stafford Act — legislation that requires communities hit by disasters to match 10 percent of federal aid. They waived it for 9/11, he tells the crowd, and they waived it when Hurricane Andrew hit Florida: Those communities were allowed to keep their one dollar for every ten federal dollars. But when he comes to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the largely African-American population of New Orleans, Obama implies that Congress refused the waiver: “What’s happenin’ down in New O’leans? Where’s yo’ dollar? Where’s yo’ Stafford Act money? . . . Tells me that somehow the people down in New O’leans they don’t care about as much.”
In fact, ten days before Obama gave that speech, Congress had waived the Stafford Act requirement for Katrina. He was well aware of that fact, too. After all, he was one of only 14 senators to vote against the waiver. It was part of a bill to fund the war effort in Iraq. That is, to pander to his Bush-deranged, anti-war base, Obama decided that squeezing New O’leans was a price worth paying. Then, he lied about what happened in order to foment racial resentment — an atmosphere that he calculated would help his presidential bid.
Just as he’s doing today.
It doesn’t matter to me, though. I was already voting against Obama. Now, though, I’m voting for Romney.