There have been a lot of newspaper columns recently about Mitt Romney, now that he has clinched the nomination. Who is he, what is he all about? Although it is funny, I can't recall seeing anything about Romney's time as governor, only a piece or two about Bain's effect on that steel company, Romney's barber(ous)) attack on an assumed gay fellow student and Gail Collins continuous mention and occasional explanation of Shamus' car roof adventure. Somehow, the exposes of Romney's closet skeletons end up still being boring.
Maybe it was inevitable pundits attention would turn back to our previous once and future President, the orator who was supposed to help us all talk politely about race. But three years later, as he asks us for another term, we are left wondering what happened. The economy is not fixed, somehow the fixed healthcare system hasn't yet made much of a ripple, and racial issues seem alternatively swept under the rug and popping up inconveniently. Oh yes, and the President recently finally suggested gays should enjoy the same rights of marriage as straight America (which considering our divorce rate is not much of a blessing).
So today Jack Kelly has a column describing in typical detail how the President is losing support. As I thought about this column, I noticed Gail Collins had an interesting column on John Edwards' recent acquittal in court that was not any sort of absolution. And today Maureen Dowd writes her own detailed examination of Obama: "Dreaming of a Superhero", wondering what happen to our once and future President.
Kelly's column talks about George McGovern's 1972 defeat, he wants us to believe a similar defeat is coming. Kelly then goes through various groups, Jews, Catholics and veterans, and how they don't like Obama for a variety of reasons. Now, from what I can see, probably there are some special interest groups (possibly right leaning) that do have a grudge (legitimate, not? you decide), but I am not sure that translates to actual voters (how many voters will base their vote on our Iran policy?). Kelly also mentions the various Democrats who are running away from Obama's attacks on Bain because the party is dependent on Wall Street money (we might see voters turn on those Democrts who defend Wall Street as hypocrites). But the message the title of Kelly's column: "Defecting from Obama: The president is losing ground among 2008 supporters" (which of course Kelly doesn't actually deal with) does seem worth considering.
Barack Obama had an interesting voter coalition in 2008. I do think there was a hard core of racism in America that Obama had to get past. He did that in a few ways, benefiting from the economic collapse, winning some voters over with his oratory skills, bringing a lot of young voters into the electorate (well, even doubling the number of under 24 voters actually is still a pretty small number, but it is something) and John McCain's poor performance in the debates.
Now it is June now, and while it would be nice for Obama if he had a commanding lead now, there is still a long road to the election. However, it is hard to see how Obama can win young people, possibly even the ones who voted for him in 2008. As I suggested above, things have no gotten better faster enough, and while (I think) there are lots of reasons for that, eventually people do blame the President (even as they would (perhaps naively) give him credit when things are good).
Maureen Dowd actually does look at Obama in detail in her fairly fascinating column. Obama showing signs when he is a community organizer of being unwilling to take risks, until he is forced to? Obama in New York, feeling he is too white, and could never find a black woman he would be comfortable with? Obama dreaming of being a super hero? This is interesting stuff. I am not sure whether it would make an average voter more or less likely to vote to keep Obama in the White House, although it makes me want to have dinner with Obama and try to have a frank discussion.
Gail Collins Saturday column did not mention Obama at all, although I have to say he is an unspoken shadow in the column. Collins simply rakes Edwards over the coals and good for her. Conservatives like Kelly like to say that Democrats never police their own, but Collins' column is a dissection in detail of John Edwards, his shallowness on policy compared to John Kerry and Bill Clinton. Make no mistake, John Edwards health care reform proposal dragged Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama toward the left during the campaign (didn't last into his Presidency for Obama), but Collins catches Edwards not knowing about a peripheral policy. Collins doesn't want to see Edwards doing anything public going forward, and I am heartened to say every Democrat I have heard comment on it echoes that message.
Does Dowd's column amount to a similar negative dissection of Obama? I don't think so. It is the sort of thing that would have been good to have had in 2008, but honestly I think it makes him seem a lot more like the rest of us. I think polls say that voters/Americans still like Obama more than they dislike him. Now, the sluggish progress of Obama's may keep voters at home, but I have to wonder, when voters look at the other choice, what will they think? Conservatives like to point out taxpayers get a lot of benefits from the Feds (what is it, half getting a net plus from the government?); will those taxpayers realize Romney wants to take a lot of those benefits away form them?