Barack Obama wants to be president. He really does. To remain president, he will do and say anything. Would that his commitment to the country's well-being were so dogged.
When our embassies were attacked in Egypt and Libya, he didn't allow it to interfere with his slumbers. Later, he said the attacks were "attacks on America." Then, as Rich Galen put it, "To keep close tabs on our response to those 'attacks on America' Obama played footsie with the gals on The View. And attended a reception. And tweeted about the nature of the global issue of replacement refs in the NFL." "The View," receptions and NFL natter are the reasons Obama wants to be president. Would that Mitt Romney seemed to want it that much.
Along with ennui, Romney seems to have an instinct for the capillaries, which leads in itself to a related disorder, a failure to see forests for trees. Since Sept. 12, this campaign has been about two major stories: the economy, stupid, which includes the debt, the entitlement problem and the anti-recovery; and the collapse of the Obama Doctrine in the Middle East crises, which grows out of "Lead from Behind." Because Romney failed to connect the continued recession to Obama's spending, regulations and health care reform plan (which killed the recovery the day that he passed it), he lets Obama get away with the Clintonesque mantra that he shouldn't be blamed as no one could do better. Because Romney issued a valid critique of the U.S. embassy's disgraceful response to the riots in Cairo that was not framed in a larger political context, it was seen as a partisan strike in a moment of national crisis.
Given the chance to reveal his worldview at the Clinton Global Initiative, he delivered a speech about ... foreign aid.
They say this election is a choice, and it is: a choice between a man who is a failure by his own standards in domestic and now foreign policy, and a man who is not. Obama said if his stimulus passed, unemployment would be 5.6 percent by this stage in his presidency, and it has been 8.1 percent or higher for 40-plus months. He said his health care plan would lower costs for Americans, and health insurance premiums are rising dramatically. He said the face of America would change the day he took office, and it changed for the worse: He has been burnt in effigy in numerous countries, we have an ambassador murdered for the first time since Carter, and we are less respected in the Middle East (and elsewhere) than in the era of George W. Bush.
Why Romney fails to say this day in and day out defies explanation. "His unwillingness to go big ... is simply astonishing," says Charles Krauthammer. "It makes you think how far ahead Romney would be if he were actually running a campaign."
As Jennifer Rubin tells us, correctly, Romney should stop being "nice." He gives Obama the benefit of the doubt when he doesn't deserve it, pulls his punches and takes the edge off his words. Obama has failed, and Romney should say so.
This is a choice between a man who's succeeded at nothing except self-promotion and one whose real-world career is a string of successes, whose party's governors have succeeded in reining in runaway budgets where the president's party's have failed. If saying so isn't "nice," it surely is needed. And losing the country is not "nice" at all.
Examiner Columnist Noemie Emery is contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."