In my Politico column today I write about how Obama has no real second-term agenda and the political consequences of that:
He wants to “win the future,” he just doesn’t have a very clear idea about how to do it. His slogan is “forward,” but his campaign is unmistakably backward-looking. His case for reelection has about as much to do with the last four years of the Bush administration as the next four years of the prospective second Obama administration.
All of his campaign’s energy has been devoted to tearing down Romney. If a fraction of its effort had been spent on coming up with a few new proposals around which Obama could wrap a fresh-feeling policy platform, he wouldn’t be forced to run such a remorselessly negative campaign. He could do more — at least as much as is possible for an incumbent president — to keep the mantle of hope and change.
The irony is that Obama aides always said that it would be a choice election. They were right. But they have been running as if the election were a referendum on the challenger. The only real choice that the Obama campaign has offered is one between believing Romney is a heartless right-wing extremist and believing Romney is a soulless opportunist.