Early Stumbles Show Bloom is Off the Obama Rose

At one point, not too long ago President Obama could do no wrong. His book was an inspirational best-seller. His speeches were global events that were compared to those given by Martin Luther King. And every idea he had seemed to be a why-didn’t-we-think-of-that solution to Americans greatest ills.

His 2008 campaign was an unstoppable force fueled by visions of hope and promises of change. But now, four years later, the Obama dream-train has apparently run out of gas. Politico reports:

Nothing inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger – the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private.

So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012.

That’s the unmistakable reality for Democrats since Obama officially launched his reelection campaign three weeks ago. Obama, not Mitt Romney, is the one with the muddled message – and the one who often comes across as baldly political. Obama, not Romney, is the one facing blowback from his own party on the central issue of the campaign so far – Romney’s history with Bain Capital. And most remarkably, Obama, not Romney, is the one falling behind in fundraising.

In nearly every way the Obama bloom is off the rose

Hope and change is long dead. The promises to change the political culture and put an end to divisive partisan politics has been one of his chief failings. Obama, the Divider in Chief, has proven to be as cravenly political as anyone before him, disabusing himself of any personal stances and incessantly weighing what position will provide him the most political gain. Romney may be called a robot, but in many ways it is Obama that relies on the coldly formulaic to decide his stances.

Which is not to say that Obama isn’t passionate. It’s just that he’s lost all seeming ability to control his emotions.

In 2008 he was a master emotional mixologist – a dash of empathy here, a sprinkle of faux rage there, whip with an inspirational tone, and boom – instant applause. The man seemed unflappable, criticism bounced off of him like bullets off of Superman. He was so above the fray as to be flying. But not this year.

Perhaps the best example came last week when an obviously-rankled Obama attacked a recent speech by Romney. “I know Gov. Romney came to Des Moines last week,” Obama said in a speech at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. “Warned about a ‘prairie fire of debt.’ That’s what he said. ‘Prairie fire.’ But he left out some facts, You know, his speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.”

It was a speech that was angry in places, dripped with sarcasm, and was topped off with eye-rolls. Not quite the Obama anyone remembers from last cycle. Then again, Obama doesn’t quite have the same rhetorical tools as his disposal this time around.

Hope and change is a one-and-done type argument, especially if you don’t follow through. And from what we can see Obama doesn’t have much of a vision to present to the American people; his only substantive idea appears to be the Buffett Tax. So without much to talk about Obama is left with nothing else but to attack Romney, oh, and try and divide the nation on wedge issues. Ronald Brownstein writes in the National Journal:

Through the campaign’s early stages, it has often seemed as if President Obama and his advisers are methodically working through a checklist. For each group central to his electoral coalition, the president has either instigated or escalated conflicts with the GOP on symbolically powerful wedge issues.

Slicing and dicing the United States based on divisive, individual issues is to my knowledge a unique approach, at least among major candidates. But will it work? Seems like a good way to turn off independents and moderates to me. And I’m not alone in that opinion.

Indeed, the divisive approach already has many wondering whether Obama’s 2008 “dream team” isn’t all it was cracked up to be. “We are rapidly approaching the moment at which Washington reevaluates the Obama campaign’s reputation for competence and expertise,” writes Matthew Continetti in the Free Beacon. “Every week, one or several of Obama’s surrogates trip over their own words; every day, Jim Messina and David Plouffe and David Axelrod must scratch their heads in wonder at the mess they are creating.”

It’s a mess we’re all living in. And now that the veneer of do-no-wrong has worn off Obama it’s time to find a president who can clean it all up.