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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.

Mr D. September 11, 2012 at 11:49 AM
The conventions are really intended to energize the base. The debates will be when the candidates try to sway undecided voters.
iknowit September 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM
men and women of this great nation, do you really think we are better off today??? Well we are better off....especially when it comes to the debt this country is in as our debt rose dramatically. Now who do they want to pay this debt?? It's not going away and someone has to pay it..Most of the granddads and grandmas that helped pay society benefits will be gone aand it will be all the youngsters that will have to foot the bill in the future.. You see, we just can't take from the tax-payer and continue giving it to individuals who elect not to pay in, but receive benefits instead. If you want to help this great Country those receiving benefits should get off their butts , find a job no matter what it pays and contribute something . I don't mind helping the physically handicapped who cannot work , but to help someone who can is very different. Those individuals(and they know who they are) should be taken off the welfare system and contribute even if it is using them to clean streets, highways , etc. Most of the welfare mongrels use the system to purchase illegal drugs(like weed, meth, cocaine and the likes), buy cell phones , vehicles and the likes.. Boy , it would be nice if the government gave me the money to do this also, but who would pay the taxes if all us tax-payers got on the system too. ...it would be broke period.. BIG GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO STOP SPENDING WHAT IT DON'T HAVE. CLEAN HOUSE AND START PRAYING TO GOD THINGS CHANGE THIS COMING ELECTION..
Mr D. September 11, 2012 at 01:32 PM
By "change" should we assume you mean Romney? According to Moody’s, in 2007 - the year Romney left office - Massachusetts had the highest debt per capita of any state in the country. So, don't hold your breath about the debt. Every recent president has seen the National Debt increase. Republicans are even worse than Democrats in that regard: Carter +42% Reagan +189% Bush +56% Clinton +36% W. +89% Obama +41%
iknowit September 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Don't know where you got these figures , but you must be one of those money throwing democrats that helped put Obama in office. The Obama administration has put America in debt by the trillions of dollars trying to make government bigger by giving billions of dollars to numerous business groups only to have them go bankrupt. If you remember correctly it was the Democrats that approved of ACORN and the likes, only forcing lenders to finance people who were high risk recipients of loans. Best you get you head pulled out of your fecal hole and face the true facts that has gotten the USA in debt today. Trying to get Soros and others to purchase gun factories , etc. Gun control will not work during my life time as I plan to defend our Constitution to the end...
DAY September 11, 2012 at 04:18 PM
A) You're comparing some 8 year presidential terms to 4 for Obama B) Obama's debt spending as a % of GDP is astronomical compared with all other presidents. This year, for the first time, our Chicago spendthrift's debt spending was actually 101.7% of GDP - the first time ever. That means Obama is borrowing more money than the value of all goods and services our economy is producing.
DAY September 11, 2012 at 04:24 PM
...Another point regarding debt spending that's 101.7% of GDP: If we're borrowing more money than the economy is generating, then how can we possibly pay off the debt? Please tell us, Mr. D.
iknowit September 11, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I don't think these fecal holes in Washington know how to cut spending. They just print more money and keep spending kinda like it grows on trees with a lot of their fertilizer(feces). This president is a spend thrift Socialistic-Muslin that wants America to become a Socialistic=Muslin-Sharia government. Just read some of the books he pinned. He won't even back a National day of Prayer, but he sure invited the Muslins to come to Washington for their day of prayer..He evened bowed before a Muslin King..kinda ruffles my feathers and many other feathers too.
Mr D. September 11, 2012 at 10:43 PM
The figure about Mass is from Moody's, the credit rating agency. The debt figures are directly from the goverment figures - not a partisan site. And no, I'm not supportng Obama, I'm making the point that every single politician racks up the debt. They all equally suck. Looking at what Reagan and the Bushes have done, why should we believe Romney will do better than Obama on that front?
Mr D. September 11, 2012 at 10:46 PM
And, DAY, no we can't pay the debt. We're up Shif Creek unless expenses get cut AND revenue (taxes increase). And ALL expenses should be on ghe table including entitlement and defense. And now I've got both conversatives and libs mad at me, but that's the sad reality...
Eric Larson September 12, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Mr. D, you are correct. We need spending cuts, real spending cuts, not the proposed cuts on budget increases. However, I don't think people are going to support any tax increases until they see meaningful cuts. That cut amount will need to be substantial. And all programs need to be on the table, including congressional health plans and their retirement benefits plus all "entitlement" programs. And while we are at it, significant tax reform.
Hermann Zwergel September 12, 2012 at 02:22 AM
So why has the stock market value doubled since the daze of George Dumbya Bush?
Daniel Patti September 13, 2012 at 12:39 AM
“Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States"-Ronald Reagan "If you've got a business, you didn't build that"- Barack Obama
G September 13, 2012 at 02:55 AM
"I love this state. The trees are the right height." —Mitt Romney, campaigning in Michigan (February 2012)
JED September 14, 2012 at 12:08 AM
ROTFLMAO! The whole Republican convention was based on a misquoted out of context lie. How's that for fantasy?
MAC September 17, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Excellent piece, Lisa. Your best yet, imho. This is all being made academic by what is happening right now in the Middle East--the attacks on our embassies and MURDER of American diplomats and others!!! Those who in 2008 listened to/read the warnings about Obama's shady/radical associations are not surprised that he has apologized to Muslim leaders and invited the Muslim Brotherhood not only to take over Egypt, but into the White House!! Now his refusal to allow the State Dept., the Military, the FBI, CIA, TSA and Homeland Security to call the Muslim extremist threat what it is--a global JIHAD to create a Caliphate which destroys not only Israel but the USA--is an EXISTENTIAL THREAT for our nation!!!!! Obama's worst FAILURE is his failure to LEAD, and to fulfill a president's most essential duty, which is to keep America SAFE!!! Obama is concerned only about his power and re-election, as proven by the fact that he has attended only 43 % of the PDBs (Presidential Daily Briefings) which are a critical part of that "most essential duty." http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2012/09/12/Exclusive-Obama-Skipped-Intel-Briefings-Week-Before-Embassy-Attacks

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