President Barack Obama‘s speech last night “was disappointing until, with about ten minutes to go, [he] acknowledged disappointment, and so began its rise,” writes Esquire‘s Tom Junod. “The times have changed — and so have I,’ Obama said. ‘I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the president.’
“Of course, he was reminding us of his power; the fact of his presidency has become an argument for his presidency. But he was also reminding us that as a candidate who rose to power on the politics of pure potential, he is, as president, a fallen man. ‘And while I’m proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failiings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’”
“This was where the speech turned, and became, in its statement of humility, a statement of rousing power. ‘I ask you for your vote,’ he said, and his commonplace words had a beseeching quality that put them outside the realm of political performance. He had failed to transform his office, and failed to transform our politics, but he sounded fully aware that he had been himself transformed.’”
“I wrote a few days ago that if the Democrats could maintain the enthusiasm they showed on the first day of their convention for all three days, Mitt Romney would be in serious trouble,” Politico‘s Roger Simon wrote this morning. “They did, and he is.
“Democratic enthusiasm — real fire-in-the-belly enthusiasm — is a killer for Romney for one big reason: There is no sizable pro-Romney movement in this country. There has been a sizable anti-Obama movement.
“There are relatively few Republicans deeply in love with Romney. There never has been. Romney won his nomination by being the most electable general election candidate in a weak and whacky primary field. He won, in other words, not by devotion, but by default.
“His campaign is fueled by dislike for and disappointment with Barack Obama. That dislike and disappointment is real.
“In 1996, the last time a Democratic president ran for reelection, there was a significant anti-Bill Clinton movement in this country. This was before the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But a lot of right-wingers hated Bill Clinton and felt he was guilty of unspeakable crimes like murder and drug-trafficking. That didn’t mean there was a significant pro-Bob Dole movement, however. And Clinton won easily by 8.5 percentage points.
“This is not 1996, the economy is bad, the cast of characters has changed and nobody is going to win by 8.5 percentage points. But the dynamic is the same: It is harder to turn out a vote against someone than a vote for someone.
“Anger is not a movement. Disappointment is not a cause. And passionate support is an antidote to both.”