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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Team Obama Didn’t Expect to Be in This Spot Right Now



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Blogging will be quiet for much of this federal holiday, but the Jolt is on its way.

The State of the Race This Monday Morning

One of my readers observes that the media is determined to blare the trumpets about Obama’s heroic comeback from his lame initial debate performance. As Mickey Kaus observes, that comeback is already being written:

That was fast:  Before the debate, Mark Halperin said the press corps was itching to write the Romney comeback story. It turns out what they were really itching to write was the Obama-comeback-from-the-Romney-comeback story. You know, something like “How Obama reset his campaign.” … Glenn Thrush of Politico has, in fact, already  written it:  There’s  already a “new narrative.” A “whipsaw transformation.” Obama “was radically different Thursday—not just calm but buoyant, loose, focused.” He gripped the podium with a fresh intensity! “That’s what he does when he’s really into it,” a “top” Obama adviser revealed.  …

The Romney revival lasted, what, 12 hours?  What appeared to be a neutral press yearning for a good horse race is looking more like the screenwriter’s need to throw some minimal obstacles in the hero’s path in order to make his ultimate triumph all the more satisfying.

I’m disappointed in my press-herd colleagues. I thought we kicked ‘em when they’re down. At least for a while. …

I’m not so sure it does folks on the Right much good to worry about what narratives the media is determined to tell. Remember, a good chunk of the media wanted to declare Obama the winner last week, too; the only reason it didn’t happen was the combination of Romney really being that good, and Obama really being that bad, made that an impossible conclusion to sell. The “OBAMA WINS SECOND DEBATE” story can’t kick in until October 16. The media may try to sell the “FREEWHEELING, LOVABLY WACKY BIDEN BEATS RYAN WHO KEEPS GOING ON AND ON WITH ALL THOSE NUMBERS” story this week; we’ll have to see what happens. But remember Biden’s favorability is considerably lower than Obama’s, and even the generous coverage of the MSM hasn’t been able to hide Biden’s unpredictable, sometimes incoherent, often self-destructive statements (“the middle class has been buried these past four years!”). If you want somebody to go out there and make the case that Obama’s policies have brought Americans to fiscal ruin, Ryan’s among the top, if not the top guy to do it.

You think you feel tense? Think of how any clear-eyed Obama fan must feel right now. They luck out with a fairly long GOP primary; they end up with a Republican nominee who has no natural geographic base, who has no branch of the party absolutely devoted to him, and who doesn’t start out with the evangelical Christian vote locked up. They manage to paint the overseas trip as a fiasco… but Romney hangs around, just a few percentage points behind an incumbent below 50 percent. They manage to get the press to focus on Romney’s Libya comment instead of the Libya events for a while… but Romney hangs around. They jump on the 47 percent, and more than a few folks declare the race over… but Romney hangs around.

Now Romney, who the Obama campaign and its allies surely thought would be Dole all over again, and who they thought was toast probably ten times in this campaign, is surging in the polls. Republicans have the enthusiasm advantage again.

They were convinced Clint Eastwood blew up the GOP convention with this silly “empty chair” image… and then the New Yorker of all places legitimizes and endorses that image, by featuring this cover:

Trust me: the Obama campaign did not think they would be in this spot at this moment.


Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney


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