--John Podhoretz, New York Post
Podhoretz, a conservative, got the first two sentences right. At this point, almost nobody argues the Republican convention turned out better than the Democrats’ a week later. Obama’s speech and the slick movie introducing him wildly outperformed Clint Eastwood and his empty chair. So the polls have moved Obama from a dead heat to a real lead.
As for Podhoretz’s last two sentences--of course Obama’s lead makes a difference. With only 56 days until the election, any kind of lead makes a difference. Romney (not Obama) . . . has. . . to . . . play. . . catch-up.
Republicans love the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Unbelievable. What are they thinking? As the liberal Froma Harrop writes:
Let's see. Four years ago ... four years ago. That was September 2008. Oh yes, I remember it well. It was a time of white-knuckled panic that a new Great Depression was upon us. . . I'd say [“better off”]. And so would most of us, if we really thought back to September 2008.Or October 2008. Or November 2008. Unbelievable. What are Republicans thinking? Republicans have to benchmark from January 20, 2009 when Obama entered the White House (as have we), or from June 2009, when the recession actually ended, but not from four years ago!!
Obama wins (we repeatedly say) if he brings most of his natural base home. And when it comes to high unemployment and the Democratic base, Walter Russell Mead of the American Interest may be correct to write:
the jobs numbers pose less of a threat to Democratic president than they would to a Republican. Unemployment is heavily concentrated among people who are not very likely to vote for a Republican no matter what the economy is doing: unemployment is heavily concentrated among African Americans, Hispanics and the young. Those groups aren’t likely to vote Republican and are less likely than the general population to blame their problems on a Democratic president.Republicans seem to face an uphill climb. I believe it’s in that context that former Reagan-Bush 41 speechwriter Peggy Noonan has offered her latest calming words, reassuring conservatives with these points:
1. Three debates lie ahead, and actually, Obama’s not a great debater (he only just held his own against McCain).
2. Obama’s disadvantage is that he is surrounded by “yes” men in awe of the presidency, so he will be thrown by harsh, pointed Romney attacks (unless Obama’s preppers are reading Noonan and therefore getting 44 ready for such attacks).
3. “Romney [is] likable enough. He needs people to see certainty, guts, ability and heft. Americans are tired of trying to like these guys, they want to respect them.”