In the Arena

Obama Argues for a Second Term Without Closing the Deal

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Callie Shell for Time

First Lady Michelle Obama greets her husband, President Barack Obama, in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 6 2012.

The President gave a fine speech Thursday night. His vision of the country is much closer to the place where I live — and, I daresay, where most Americans live — than Mitt Romney’s. It is an America that includes truck drivers and teachers and autoworkers as well as Romney’s beloved entrepreneurs. Obama laid out the case against Romney’s constricted vision in a very effective way: “If you have a cold, they say take two tax cuts and roll back some regulations and see us in the morning.” He was, of course, defter, funnier, more profound than Romney. He told basic truths like “global warming is not a hoax.” He made no absurd promises. He recognized the difficulty of our situation. He acknowledged mistakes. But he did not close the deal. The speech disappointed me, and I’m not quite sure why.

(MORE: Full Text of the President’s Address)

Perhaps it was the absence of detail. The only propositional statistic I remember is his calling for 100,000 more math and science teachers. I wanted him to say: Here’s what we did that worked; here’s where we need to work harder; here are a few things we’ve learned we have to do differently; here’s what I hope we can do. In a way, he was hamstrung — as Romney was — by his personal distaste for tooting his own horn. I actually liked the details in Joe Biden’s speech better, the stories of Obama saving the auto industry and making the decision to whack Osama bin Laden. But even there, Biden didn’t quite deliver: he did not, perhaps could not, say it was really ballsy to go into Pakistan without their permission, and that our generals were advising the President to bomb the compound rather than send in the SEALs who were able to retrieve all sorts of valuable information that has led to the death or capture of many more al-Qaeda leaders. President Obama defied the generals and achieved a better result than they were willing to imagine.

But I still wonder: What is he going to do with his second term? What are the next things we need to do as a nation? Why did he limit his defense of the Affordable Care Act to a sentence or two about a girl in Phoenix with a pre-existing condition? Why didn’t he say more about the revival in manufacturing that seems to just be beginning? Why didn’t he get more specific, and dreamy, about the whiz-bang new energy products that are being developed by basic-research government agencies like ARPA-E? He talked about goals; why did none of them seem big? Why can’t I remember any of them? Why didn’t he talk about the world’s largest solar farm, under way in Nevada? Why didn’t he envision an America — happening right now, by the way — where people can put solar tiles on their roofs, take care of their own electrical needs and sell the surplus to their local utilities? Or something else. Whatever. Something to hang on to and aim for.

(MORE: A Tough Slog: Obama Asks America to Go on Hope)

I suppose he was being realistic. I suppose that given the Republicans’ fanatic assault on government itself — the use of government as an epithet — it’s not too wise to dream big anymore. Is it possible to understand that and still be disappointed? Back in 1992, I remember George Stephanopoulos saying to me, “Specificity is a character issue this year.” He was speaking about Bill Clinton — and we saw Clinton’s native  specificity, his ability to make facts come alive, on display last night. In terms of sheer candlepower, Clinton and Obama are the two smartest politicians I’ve ever covered. Given what I saw of Clinton’s handling of the military and foreign policy in the 1990s, though, I don’t think he could have made the crisp, subtle decisions that Obama made over the past four years. But I’m continually disappointed by Obama’s inability to make the domestic policy decisions he’s made come alive to the American people, to show us what sort of country we’re going to be living in when we emerge from this mess, to show how we are going to be different — necessarily — when we come out the other side.

To be sure, he gave us more than Romney. Romney has given us practically nothing. And the expansive joy of the Democrats, in all their many wonderful hues, was far more bracing than the heavily narcotized and straitjacketed rage of the Republicans in tamped-down Tampa last week. The Republicans’ untoward anger, their illegitimate fantasies about Barack Obama, is an American disgrace. I like and admire the President; he’s smart and funny and exemplary. He’s made some very difficult decisions, correct decisions under impossible circumstances. He pulled us from the brink, from an economic disaster largely caused by the plutocrats now criticizing him so shamelessly and falsely. But I want more from him, more guidance, more leadership. Somehow — and this is still true for an electoral majority of Americans — we all do.

PHOTOS: Tight Security Ahead of Obama’s DNC Debut

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LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

This country is like a great ship.  A ship that has been out on the ocean of life, but no one behind the wheel to guide it.  

Barry Obama has proven he is not a leader.  He has no experience to back him up when it comes time to make tough and hard decisions.  Despite all the rants by Joe Biden and Bill Clinton to reinforce what they say they saw, America knows when someone doesn't have a clue as to what to do next.  

Barry has been and will go down in history as a great failure.  Jimmy Carter knows the story. He lived it 30+ years ago.  

Vote Mitt Romney.  He has proven himself as a leader.  He has proven what success is.  Who would you follow if things got real tough?  A man who has never even held a real job in life?  Someone that doesn't know the first thing about business and free enterprise?  

We have a fiscal mess.  We have a country that is like a business that is going under because of bad management.  We NEED someone who has the experience and knowledge to turn it all around.  

paulejb
paulejb

"No News On Jobs"

"The headline number came in a bit below expectations, but that’s probably just the noisiness in the data. The best hypothesis about the US economy this past year and more is that it has been steadily adding jobs at a pace roughly fast enough to keep up with but not get ahead of population growth. Today’s report was consistent with a continuation of that story. Nothing to see here."

Paul Krugman

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c... 

http://www.jammiewf.com/assets...

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

This is Barry Hussein Soetoro-Obama's "party".  The party of those who wish for a totally God-less country.  

Barry wants you to believe in Big Government, not God.  He wants you to believe in him.  

If people are so naive as to believe they can be totally dependent on any man, you will be sorely disappointed.  

Not just once, not just twice did the delegates to the DNC Convention shout out "NO TO GOD", but THREE times.  

It is very clear now which party is the "Party of NO"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

MrObvious
MrObvious

This is Barry Hussein Soetoro-Obama's "party". The party of those who wish for a totally God-less country.

That would explain the faith clause in the dem platform.

Not just once, not just twice did the delegates to the DNC Convention shout out "NO TO GOD", but THREE times.

Yeah, we get the symbolism, but it's not true.

It is very clear now which party is the "Party of NO"

That would be the current speakers HECK NO! party

paulejb
paulejb

MrObvious,

Faith in what, scooter?

paulejb
paulejb

"The awful, awful August jobs report"

"– If the labor force participation rate was the same as when Obama took office in January 2009, the unemployment rate would be 11.2%." 

http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/... 

Kennedy Emetulu
Kennedy Emetulu

..

 

 

Barack Obama brought the house down with a fine speech in Charlotte, but it’s by no means his best piece of oratory. Considering the super-human expectations raised by his 2008 run for the White House, you get the sense that in Charlotte, he was content to cloak himself in the grounded testimonials of President Clinton, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry and all the other deliverers of stirring speeches in support of his candidacy. He saw his task as not to upstage them with soaring oratory, but to soberly deliver a modest vision speech that is at once a reminder of where America is today and a pointer to where she will be led by him if re-elected.

 

 

Thus, with quiet defiance, tempered wit, but optimistic mien, Obama’s speech will be remembered in years to come, not for its rhetorical flourishes, but for the depth of conviction weaved into every word he spoke therein. From the starry-eyed young man who took over leadership in the worst economic and social times since the Great Depression, he has matured into a fine statesman who knows that sometimes the burden of leadership has to be truthfully shared with those you lead so they can have a stake in your vision. This is because when things are bad, the carping sideliners will always rule the wave with their bitter complaints and cynicism, but those who have committed themselves to a vision of leadership as followers would not be a reed in their ill-wind. They will stay the course.

 

 

Barack Obama says he is the President and indeed he is the president America needs now and the leader the world cannot afford to lose at this critical juncture of human history. Yet, the choice still has to be made by the American people who today are nagged by doubts intensely reinforced by those opposed to his pristine vision of progress. But the defiance of his bravery and the nobility of his vision do not only sprinkle freshness on the hope he planted four years ago, they are indeed the products of the change that is needed to renew and consolidate the values that keep America great, values that make her an exceptional nation.

 

 

Americans must know that they can only wake up to the glory of a new day on November 7 if by the day before they had stared down the agenda-driven moneybags intent on taking America and the world with the predatory power of their chequebooks, helped, advertently or inadvertently, by the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, whose effect is to allow the unbridled power of money from any source to determine elections through the unconscionable activities of Super-PACs. The ugly rich today lining up behind Romney with their weighty bags of shekels are intent on humiliating Barack Obama out of office, because he wouldn’t mortgage America’s future to them. They want to wrap their greasy hands around America’s jugular, but Barack wouldn’t play ball!

 

 

So, between now and the election, they intend to use their money to blow him out of the water. However, you can stop them with your little contribution to Barack Obama’s campaign and your sheer dedication to the cause. There is no doubt that the Democratic Party base is energized after Charlotte, but now is the hard part. Every true stakeholder in the Great American Dream has to do all within his or her power to get Barack Obama re-elected, because the future of America and indeed, the world depends on it. There is no doubt that this election is far more important than that of 2008 and it is crystal clear that only the re-election of Barack Obama gives the forces of good any fighting chance against the circling vultures.

 

 

If you are an American with the right to vote, if you can influence people who can vote, work tirelessly between now and November 6 to see that the man is returned to the White House. We all know that the Republicans are notoriously better at turning out their base during elections than the Democrats, which explains why George W. Bush narrowly squeezed past John Kerry in 2004. But don’t let them sneak in this time. Be part of Barack’s Army to keep him in the White House. Do more than just talk! Vote and mobilize others to vote! The power of all must be exercised by the power of one. Do your bit!

 

 

 

Jazz King
Jazz King

I am Tea Party ... and I vote.

Jazz King
Jazz King

Let me help you Joe.  Obama's agenda for a second term:

1)  Spend. 

2)  Tax.

3)  Borrow.

4)  Pit racial groups against each other.

5)  Pit income groups against each other. 

6)  Pit genders against each other. 

7) Pit religious groups against each other. 

8)  Give more "flexibility" to Putin and Ahmahdinnerjacket.

9)  Give money to Hamas to destroy Israel.

10) Take surplus money away from the 1% (Americans) and redistribute it to poor nations.

"What More Do We Want [Obama] To Do For Us, Honest To God?"

-David Letterman, Obammunist Tool

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

12)  Give the boot to God, and praise me for what I will do for you.

Jazz King
Jazz King

12) Ridicule Employers Saying "You Didn't Build That.  Now pay up."

Wrabble
Wrabble

 11)  Vote "Present!"

MrObvious
MrObvious

Not really

Clint, stop arguing with the empty chair again.

Barry Shook
Barry Shook

It's Obama's 3 1/2 years of an "absence of details"  that has left our economy and Congress in shambles.  I don't believe our country can handle another 4 years of his "leadership".

kwikmail
kwikmail

Global warming -- "a basic truth" ???  Second Truth:  BHO is a great leader who has curbed global warming....

paulejb
paulejb

kwikmail,

Help is on the way.

"America's falling carbon-dioxide emissions

Some fracking good news"

"The organisation's latest figures show that America's carbon-dioxide emissions from generating energy have fallen by 450m tonnes, more than in any other country over the past five years."  

http://www.economist.com/blogs... 

Someone should tell Joe Klein

Amie Warren
Amie Warren

I think that as a lame duck President who doesn't have to worry about getting reelected, he might just stand up to the idiots in Congress and on the Supreme Court. He looked bedraggled. He looked humbled. He just wanted people to know he cares, and he can't promise them anything because the fools in Congress won't let him.

More important than re-electing Obama is bringing 25 house seats with him and remembering that there may be a supreme court seat at stake, so we can get Citizens United overturned. I hope people realize that, and get out and vote.

BTW, my friend in FL tried to transfer her voter registration from one county to another, and they demanded a birth certificate. She said it would take a few days to get one, went home and ordered an absentee ballot from her previous county. She doesn't know if it will count or not.  She's been registered to vote in FL since 1995, but she's a registered Democrat, so of course, they are going to make it very difficult for her to vote.

rudehost
rudehost

 It is amusing that the number one priority on the left is to muzzle free speech they don't like because a corporation may have paid for it all the while glorifying the God given right of the editorial board of the NYTimes corporation to lie at will under the guise of protecting free speech.

I love the smell of cognitive dissonance in the morning!

MrObvious
MrObvious

I find it amusing that some people consider a non human entity such as a legal contract like a 'corporation' the same as a human being. And that they compare bying off politicians with money (in what most people consider a bribery) without displaying who is doing it, the same as the free speech rights that everyone enjoy.

Let me know of anyone, which includes also people owning or working for a company that are not allowed their free speech rights.

Hint - you'll find that companies restrict more of employees to freely speak their minds than anyone does a manager.

rudehost; if I can't give a cop some money to 'see it my way' then why should anyone be able to give a politician money as well? There's absolutely nothing that stops a company from pay for advertizing on their own saying whatever they want, but I find it amazing that they can only do so if they first are guaranteed anonymity through  a super pac.

Kennedy Emetulu
Kennedy Emetulu

Joe,

This is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Yes, Obama is hamstrung by the exceptional expectations and indeed the extraordinary burden placed on his shoulders. In 2008, he could walk on water. Americans, rather than realistically appreciate the enormity of the problems he was inheriting and how they were even made worse before he could actually take office, thought him the man with the magic wand unfailingly bringing Eldorado. Imagine how some who voted for him in 2008 now complain that he failed in his promise to change the tone of Washington as though it depends on only one man to do that. No one wants to consider the hard reality he met from day one in the form of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party and their stated mission to ensure that he does not get a second term by actually working against him, blurring the line between politics and treason in the process.

They blame him solely for the sluggishness of economic recovery when it is obvious that if the Republican Congress had met him halfway, the outlook would have been far better today. Everyone seems to want to discount the fact that the Republican Party seems to have tied its future to active investment in Obama’s failure. Oh, he’s the President and must find ways around the gridlock, they say; but no one wants to consider the reality of a bitter and unyielding opposition he faced. You only have to look at the activities of the Tea Party and the Birthers and consider how deeply he has been disrespected by members of the opposition throughout these four years to understand what he had to confront. He bore it all with quiet dignity and still produced achievements that only the blinkered would not appreciate.

Yes, Barack Obama is a hugely successful president if objectively judged on the concrete things he has achieved in the circumstances. While you would have preferred for him to come out yesterday to toot his own horns about his various achievements and present Americans with more details about where he is going and how and what he wants to do to achieve the goals, I do not think the psychology of the situation favours this. Barack Obama is facing one very determined and extremely moneyed opposition intent on humiliating him out of office. There are still three debates coming up with Mr Romney and about 60 days remaining before election. No matter our expectations, I believe the best thing is to keep his cards close to his chest as he’s doing. I think the strategy is to deliver a broad vision speech as he’s done in Charlotte and to use the stump to begin to expand on these.

Obama’s strategy is to make the connection between what he has been doing in the past four years and what he intends to do in the next four (if re-elected) through the stories of achievements so far and the vision of completion while he is out campaigning between now and the election. While Romney and co are banking on using their money advantage to blow him out of the water through negative adverts and so on, Obama knows that all he has are his stories and achievements and vision and there is no better or more effective place to tell them than on the road. This way, by the time we get to November 6, Romney would be running on empty while Obama would have woven a complete vision, sold directly to the people on the road and based on verifiable achievements. This is Obama’s October surprise – the nation helping him tell the story of his achievement and sharing his vision day by day as we move to November 6.

Note that Obama is not only campaigning for his own re-election. Without saying so directly, he is asking the American people to also give him a Congress that would share his vision. Once the people begin to understand where he’s coming from through this concerted selling of his achievements and espousal of the details of his vision based on these achievements and a clear understanding of where he wants to take America, they will not only get him re-elected, they will give him a Congress that will help achieve that vision. Mark my words, by the time this electioneering season is over, it will be marked largely at every level by where you stand over the Obama’s vision. This is what he means by the stark choices facing the people. If Washington has to change, it will need the people to punish people whose whole mission is to go there and constitute themselves into obstacles to progress. This is Obama’s game-plan and the reason he is confident. He has worked and served well and he is leaving the American people to make the judgment, not only about him, but also in the case of each member of Congress standing for re-election or election. To make that judgment, the American people need the facts. He is not going to lay it all out in Charlotte to be dismissed as another of his oratorical flourishes. No, he is going to remind them of these on the road and make sure they remain fresh in their minds as they vote on November 6. It’s a new type of race that will redefine electioneering in the age of Citizens United and the Super-PACs.

johnnybgood2525
johnnybgood2525

Billy C nailed Cutter and Fluke behind the curtain, they felt his pain.

paulejb
paulejb

"Economy might make prez a poor second"

"You know it’s not a good night when you get out-shined by Joe Biden. And instead of offering “hope and change,” the president offered a plea for more time, not a great slogan to carry into the fall." 

http://www.bostonherald.com/ne...

paulejb
paulejb

Month 43 of 8% PLUS unemployment. No he can't!

Richard Giles
Richard Giles

Sometimes people look the other way and ignore inappropriate, even criminal behavior when it doesn’t affect them or is consistent with their own interests.  They know it is wrong but they just don’t bother themselves with it, avoiding to even consider that one day it is apt to turn against them like it is currently against others.  The wrong of it doesn’t bother their conscience because they rationalize that it isn’t them doing it or because they think the end result is justified.  That really says a lot of wrong about the people and the society that condones it.

Today we see several politicians who refuse to work with the other side of the aisle or with the president, literally stubbornly blocking and arrogantly faulting all efforts without any concern or conscience for the costs to the country and to the people.  They put their political ambitions above all else and just cater to "the money's" interests, their strong supporters and masters.  Together they just strive to use power, influence and money to con the people and to manipulate public opinion, insultingly playing the voters like "pawns" with their deceptive, abundant propaganda.  There is no real consideration for other than their self-serving interests.

They were sent to Washington to represent the people, not just themselves, or just "the money", but they conduct themselves as if it is their government and not the people's.  Our representatives are expected to put their personal interests aside and concentrate on working together, with bipartisanship, compromise and cooperation - to work with the other representatives, who were also elected by the people, to serve the people, all of the people.  Their concentration on their own interests and ambitions and their then rendering government ineffective is actually criminal.  We see this with John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, others and those controlled by Norquist, Cheney, Rove, the Koch brothers and more who belligerently and purposely create gridlock and worse with their "my way or no way" performance.  They have even become cocky confident with being emboldened by past successes.

The people, the voters do still have control.  Should their consciences guide them to take appropriate action, they then can send these offending politicians home and firmly refuse to elect any more of the "puppet" individuals who just serve "the money's" interest and ignore their responsibilities to the people.  Of course, that requires the people to reject the propaganda aimed to deceive and control them, refuse to be conned and firmly, objectively and rationally vote their consciences.  That also is the way it is suppose to work.

paulejb
paulejb

"Record 88,921,000 Americans ‘Not in Labor Force’—119,000 Fewer Employed in August Than July"

"There were also 119,000 fewer Americans employed in August than there were in July. In July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 142,220,000 Americans working. But, in August, there were only 142,101,000 Americans working." 

http://cnsnews.com/news/articl... 

No more years! No more years!

Jazz King
Jazz King

"Progressives" luv jobs ... it's employers they hate with a passion.

kahnkeller
kahnkeller

I am sure he is charming... he just is not a very effective president.

BobJan
BobJan

Romney to Joe the Blue collar worker:

Hey Joe are you better off today than when Obumma took office.

Joe: Not at all. My house value is underwater, I have no medical benefits at these 2 part time jobs, and I had to pull my 2 girls out of college because I couldn't afford it anymore. My wife has since gone back to work at $8.75/hr with no benefits. My other 2 children in junior and senior high are now getting free breakfasts and lunches sans government since minimum wage is not enough to feed an ant.

Romney: yeah Joe, I know what it's all about and I will change that if you elect me president.

Joe: How could you even begin to know how I feel. On Jan 20, 2009 the Dow closed at 7949.49 and on Sept. 6 2012 it closed at 13,292.

Your investments are up 67% since then. Mine are down somewhere in the 30 to 50% range.

Romney: well Joe, my first action will be to rid the world of Obummacare. I don't have a plan for your health care but no worry, my republican congress will take care of you. As far as the housing values going down and you're underwater on your mortgage and such, the "Whole Congress" bailed out all the lending institutions that helped create this mess. So you won't have to worry about them hounding you for a while yet when you're behind on payments.

Joe: I have one problem with your party wanting to keep the minimum wage at poverty levels.

Romney: we've got that all under control Joe. When companies pay $8.75/hr and you don't have enough for your groceries, utilities, rent payment, school aid etc and etc. we just dip into the funds for the poor and get to blame Obumma for all the aid everyone is on. Don't worry Joe, we've got all the bases covered.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

America is indeed a great and exceptional country.  How and why that happened is because of great individuals who created something out of nothing.  Inventors, businessmen and women, those who were willing to take a risk and succeeded.  In other words "We the Individual DID BUILD THAT".  There were no roads or bridges in the early days.  Those came AFTER individuals became successful, and yes WE DID BUILD THOSE THINGS TOO, WITH OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS, those of us who paid them.  

Obama's goal for the past 4 years has been running head first into destroying those dreams.  To "spread the wealth and redistribute it" to those who can barely get out of bed in the morning.  No economy can survive long waiting for someone to finally wake up and get out of bed.  No economy can survive long with almost 50% of the people standing idly by waiting for a government handout.  

Our businesses are shackled with EEOC and Affirmative Action regulations.  Have been for the past 30 years or more.  We have to watch out for every person we employ because of the threat that they will come back and sue us for everything we have because we didn't want them as an employee.  Now we have one more drag on our businesses, ObamaCare to add to the mix of government regulations and taxes.  

The government is too BIG and people have become lazy and dependent.  We must downsize the federal government, bring it back to the local level, decrease spending by at least 20% or more and tell people the free ride days are over.  Sorry pal, but it's time you pick up a pick and shovel and get to work.  Funny thing is when you stop government handouts like food stamps and welfare, people will soon say "gee, my back doesn't hurt anymore".  A hungry belly will make you do most anything in order to eat to survive.  But, you'll be proud of yourself at the end of the day.  You will be able to finally look yourself in the mirror and say "I did that.  I put food on my table, not Barack Obama."