Is the election really over? A.B. Stoddard seems to think so. As is usual in this cycle, I’m not so sure. Part of my reticence is cowardice – therefore I’ll brag now: In the past, election outcomes are always evident to me by this point. Even 2000. There simply was no way George W Bush would NOT be President. I wasn’t happy about it, but I knew it. In this cycle every time I feel close to gleaning the gestalt…my love affair with the gestalt gets rocky.
In early September I was 80% sure Obama had the thing won. In late October I’m 65% sure Romney will be sworn in next year. 80% is better than 65% but it’s late October. That matters. My hunch is that unless Romney commits the gaffe to end all gaffes on Monday night, he’ll win. Obama needs to conjure a reason for a 2nd term and sell it quickly. He seems to finally know this. Expect a hard sell starting Monday. I sense it’s too late however.
I saw what ought to be a succesful Obama ad tonight… a rare occurence in California. Morgan Freeman gives us a 30 second history lesson on the wonders of Obama’s first term. Then “more work to do” then “Forward”. Boilerplate, but solid. Yet, the ad is oddly flat. In so much as “Hope and Change” was effective in its enraging vagueness, “Forward” is just annoyingly vague. Obama’s listed “victories” in the ad have nothing to do with why he was really hired. Okay, he killed the bad guy. But all the implied promise of 2008 – the reason he won – is gone.
More than anything, Obama was hired to heal. He’s failed on that count on an epic scale. It’s the elephant in the room. Not even the soothing, lulling voice of Morgan Freeman makes one forget it. After the ad I wanted to write in Morgan Freeman’s voice for President. But vote for Obama? Not so much. Forward?….With him? Why? There just isn’t a reason to rehire the guy. He failed at his prime directive. For all the economic chaos, Obama’s true task was to rise above the anger and fear. He didn’t. He rarely tried. FDR understood his prime directive – to restore faith. That things were still bad in 1936 didn’t matter. People had faith in Roosevelt. Only blind partisans still have faith in Obama. On the other hand, Romney – almost by his engaged presence alone in the first debate – supplied myriad reasons to give him the job. In 90 minutes he became a president to those voters that matter. They – the herd of undecideds – always break for the challenger. Odd as this year is, that dynamic will probably hold.
Because of the verisimilitude of the electoral college and the potential for a real Romney gaffe I’ll remain a coward when it comes to calling this one. To my chagrin this means there will be no “Told ya so” post on election night.