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Opinion: Columnists

Obama plays it cool while Mideast burns

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Last week was very bad for America but very good for Mitt Romney's election prospects.

The week was horrible for the Manhattan-Beltway media elite and the institutions they captain, but very good for center-right media and the electorate that is coming to depend upon the new media.

Four Americans were slaughtered by the same forces that killed thousands 11 years earlier, and suddenly we are reminded that there is no holiday from history, no verbal shortcut to peace in our time.

The president's long-ago Cairo speech turns out to be so many meaningless words spoken into a part of the world that cares much, much more for strength than gestures.

All of President Obama's anti-Israel maneuvering did nothing to charm the Arab street. His Nobel Peace Prize looks more and more like a participation trophy intended to encourage but incapable of bestowing talent or vision.

The events of the last week provided a window through which to view the November choice.

Mitt Romney reacted quickly -- not too quickly, but quickly -- to the expression of appeasement from our embassy in Cairo. Obama has so infused every limb of our vast government with the spirit of appeasement and decline that the embassy statement was not surprising but cringe-inducing nonetheless. Romney was right to denounce it, and in the strongest terms.

Quick: Cite a line or even a phrase from the president's "response" to the brutal murder of our ambassador and his three colleagues.

Paul Ryan was right later in the week at the Values Voters Summit to slam the president's utter lack of credibility on matters of American resolve and for his unwillingness to acknowledge his responsibility for anything that has happened on his watch. Imagine a captain of a ship who, having run it aground, lost an engagement and abandoned his mission, then declares upon arrival in port that all was well and the next voyage promised glory and riches. This is exactly what the president offers, and Ryan was right to call him on it.

More such detailed but compact, passionate but precise eviscerations of the collapse of Obamanomics and Obama foreign policy will be forthcoming. They will reach crescendo with the debates and then flow into the November vote. Mainstream media charlatans -- and that is what many have simply become -- have not been able to disguise the rapid deflation of the Obama convention bubble. What momentum Obama-Biden had that the terrible jobs report and Fed's declaration of stormy economic times ahead did not destroy, the haplessness of the president's response to the atrocity in Libya and the terrorism in other Muslim cities has.

There will be bad days and even weeks for Mitt Romney ahead, each of them amplified by the hyperpartisanship of the old and failing media, eager for one last display of trend-setting influence. Aging movie stars never seemed so desperate as the former titans of opinion making.

Here is what they fear, what pollsters have to work overtime to hide, what the Chicago Gang knows: The country will not vote for civilizational suicide, nor for the cultural eclipse that the president's passivity telegraphs. His dismal economic record was enough to beat him, for how can he bank on the turnout of millions who have in fact dropped out of the search for employment?

Economics alone dooms his candidacy. But a faltering, indeed tremulous voice, combined with an arrogant detachment so extreme that he could fly to Vegas to gladhand and fundraise as news of the Libyan atrocity swept across the country, must deepen dismay even along his supporters.

President Cool is a much better actor than he is an executive. But the role is coming to an end, and not a minute too soon.

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.

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