After Thursday's Democratic convention close, the "faded Obama poster" of Paul Ryan's speech eight days earlier had a faded soundtrack to accompany it.
No one pretended to love President Obama's speech, and only a few really attempted to defend it. Like his record, his supporters in and out of the media thought the speech just better moved on from, an unhappy reality that needed glossing over.
And there is no shining up the jobs report that came out the following morning. As Mitt Romney quickly and rightly pointed out on Friday, for every American who found a job in August, four gave up looking. This is a catastrophe, a still-spreading epic of employment despair. It is killing more than GDP growth -- it is destroying hope, the president's alleged first priority.
What a sham that was in Charlotte, a long series of diversions best remembered for Antonio Villaraigosa's now immortal "In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it," a spectacular show-and-telling of the core of the new Democratic Party overflowing with Alinskyite ruthlessness tethered to the old New Left's agenda of nonsense.
Team Romney is running circles around David Axelrod and friends, and even the protective bubble of Beltway chatter can't keep that truth from getting through. Tampa was upended by weather and risked quite a lot with a big bet on Clint Eastwood, but it came off with great speeches by the key players and the display of a youthful and energized party led by the hyper-competent Romney.
Charlotte was a fiasco from start to finish, except for the aging ex-president. Obama himself bombed in the biggest speech of the year, a week after Romney nailed his big moment.
This cannot be a race. Whatever the polls say, the president is serving out our disastrous 48 month sentence. Joe Biden is getting a last fly-around so he can call on others to "stand up," as the president did in his acceptance speech, with both appeals yielding equal effect.
Can Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan turn this around? Unquestionably yes. The wealth of the country is so vast and it's DNA so deeply entrepreneurial that the chains only need a little loosening. Any significant breaking of the shackles would result in an astonishing take off.
There are, for example, about $7 trillion in retirement assets locked away from the tax man's reach. If President Romney and Speaker Boehner and Leader McConnell decide to eliminate early withdrawal penalties and lower the rate on transfer from shelved to active assets of any portion of these reserves, a real stimulus will course through the economy, and at a cost of zero borrowing and considerably higher tax receipts.
If the same trio ushers through authority for the states to restructure their two decades worth of shameful and destructive deals with public sector unions, even California and Illinois can resurrect themselves.
If the sequester is renounced and the United States Navy out on a path to 313 ships or more (rather than its present course to 250), the essential building block of national security, international stability, and expanded trade will be in place.
There is much to be done. Romney will do it and Obama won't.
Rarely is anything as clear as the two paths open to the country right now. The nostalgia of the Manhattan-Beltway media elites for their university days and the canards they held (and hold) so dear is the last hope of the Chicago Gang. Expect the Gang to deal its anti-Mormon cards -- bank on it in fact -- and every other dirtier-than-ever-before low blow.
Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.