There have been a lot of attempts to explain why Obama failed. Chris Matthews said Obama looked unprepared because he hadn’t watched MSNBC enough and didn’t know how to fight those varmint Republicans. Whoopi Goldberg said he was distracted by his wedding anniversary. A great many blamed liberal Jim Lehrer for letting Romney dominate the debate – which makes Obama look even worse if the President needs a moderator to protect him. Several tried to blame Romney for cheating by trying to look moderate – even though Romney was solidly conservative across the board. David Axelrod claimed the problem was us, i.e. that Obama wanted to “honor the American people with honest answers to serious questions” rather than “dropping particular lines,” and apparently we just aren’t smart enough to appreciate that. Team Obama is blaming John Kerry for not being aggressive enough in the practice debates. Al Gore blamed the altitude.
The most delusional excuse is the idea that Obama did this intentionally. This seems to be morphing into the face-saving meme on the left, even though it’s ridiculous. The idea is that Obama wanted to appear thoughtful, presidential, and above-the-fray. Ok. . . then (1) if he meant to appear thoughtful, why did he look confused and uninformed, (2) if he meant to appeal presidential, why did he spend his time looking down at his podium, smirking like an angry jackass, and (3) if his game plan was to appear above-the-fray, why did he spend almost all of his time attacking straw-man presentations of Romney’s plan?
The truth is that Obama used a bad strategy because he didn’t understand what he was doing. Presidential elections involving incumbents are referendums on the incumbent. The electorate focuses on whether or not the incumbent deserves to be sent back to the job for another four years. . . that's it. That means the incumbent must explain why their record is acceptable and they must point out how they will make things better over the next term. Attacking Romney doesn’t give the electorate any reason to return Obama to office. And when Romney kept repeating the facts of Obama’s record, from unemployment to rising tax burdens to falling incomes to the rising cost of goods and healthcare, Obama needed an answer. He needed to explain how he had made things better and how his plan for the future would continue to make things better. He didn’t. Instead, he spent his time criticizing Romney.
I’ve seen this in court over and over, you need to know what the jury needs to hear from you and you need to deliver it. You can provide all the fireworks you want against the other guy, but it does no good if the jury doesn’t hear what they need about your case.
This is what Obama doesn’t understand because he is a neophyte. Looking at his history, there is nothing that tells me that he’s ever had to prove himself to anyone. Because of this, his debate performance was not unexpected or some freakish mistake, it was exactly what his history would predict. And to give you a sense of how unaware Obama is, which bolsters the case that he is a neophyte, Politico reported that Obama didn’t think he’d lost the debate until his aids showed him the tape. Few experienced, talented public speakers would ever lose the crowd and not realize it.
So what to do next? That’s the funny thing. The advice Obama’s getting now, which he’s apparently taking based on his stump speeches since the debate, are to attack Romney harder. They want to see him attack Romney as hating Big Bird, for the 47% comment, and for Bain Capital, which is the silver bullet they think Obama just hasn’t mentioned enough. //rolls eyes...
Of course, that’s absolutely the wrong advice. If Obama wants to win this election, he needs to do the one thing he’s never done before – he needs to convince a skeptical public that he knows what he’s doing. I see no evidence that he knows how to do that, and even worse, I see no evidence that he intends to do that. To the contrary, everything I see tells me that he and the Democrats are going all-in on the attack strategy.
In fact, the MSM seems to be gearing up for that. Politico has declared that Obama immediately “reset” his campaign and the race is off anew. Others are flat out carrying Obama’s water since they now realize he won’t, and they’re basically running Obama-campaign talking points. You’d be amazed, for example, how many MSM outlets are suddenly running with this 47% thing all over again as if Romney keeps saying it. And dozens of articles are being written about Obama suddenly being “energized.” Little is being said of the polls showing Romney taking a statistically significant lead in the polls these same outlets have been trumpeting for weeks now.
They can hang their hopes on Obama’s new energy if they like, but all the energy in the world won’t help when you have the wrong plan, and Obama has the wrong plan.