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Where Obama Went Wrong

Most of the speakers at last week's Democratic National Convention whipped up the partisan crowd into a frenzy. Here's why I think the main event -- President Obama's nomination acceptance speech -- fell flat.

The crowd was ready. The delivery, as always, was masterful. But in the end, President Obama's nomination acceptance speech spoke more for what it wasn't, in fact, than what it was.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney has made a habit of criticizing Obama's habit of criticizing America on foreign shores. Many political observers -- including the Tampa Bay Times' respected PolitiCheck columnists -- found Romney's claims grossly distorted. Naturally, conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation disagree.

Nevertheless, for someone so willing to acknowledge prior administrative policy failures, Obama found little fault with himself or his way of doing business over the past nearly four years -- with the exception of not doing a better job selling his narrative to the American people.

Perhaps America has become accustomed to his extraordinary prowess on the stump. To me, his speech sounded like leftover meatloaf -- satisfying when fresh out of the oven yesterday, but warmed over grease today.

Obama made his biggest mistake of the campaign by using the convention to energize his base. He didn't need to energize the crowd -- they were already pumped from Joe Biden's terrific speech, which visibly moved Michelle Obama, and the fascinating entry of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro into the national consciousness.

What he needed to do was sway Independent voters. And I don't think he got the job done.

Wouldn't it have been so much more refreshing to hear him acknowledge that America is not in a better place than it was when he was first elected? Unemployment is 8.1 percent. Food and gas prices are the highest they've ever been. Housing is in the toilet. The Middle East and Europe threaten our welfare, as does China. 

(And -- by the way -- those 4.5 million jobs? Do yourself a favor and fact check that number. It's just a big, fat quarter-truth.)

Perhaps it would have been wiser for him to take a different tack in his nomination speech than when he was first elected. Obama's failure to cultivate relationships inside Congress -- highlighted by his hiring of assertive-is-putting-it-mildly Rahm Emanuel and his arrogant hey-we-won-the-election-so-back-off style of dealmaking -- made it difficult for him to get anything done, even when the Democrats controlled Congress.

Here's what's now the worst-kept secret in town: I voted for Obama in 2008. Although I liked and respected McCain (I still do), I couldn't tolerate his choice of Sarah Palin for VP. At the time I thought: 'This is your first decision under pressure, and she's the best you can do?' Plus, it smacked of pandering, which I find insulting.

But I digress.

I voted for Obama because I desperately wanted to see his vision of America come true. A more tolerant, less aggressive US of A. But things are worse now than they've ever been, and when I think that 11 years ago our Congressmen and women stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang God Bless America impromptu, I know that Obama is not the man to bridge this nation's deep ideological divide.

And this is his deepest failure. The varnish on this cool customer and undeniably brilliant community organizer who made hope and change sound so good is faded and scratched. Obama's inability to admit that his administration has made any mistakes, and the stubborn insistence that we are better off now than we were four years ago, demeans the intelligence of the man on the street.

I guess what I'm saying is, if the Democrats have to spend three days convincing America that Americans are better off, then we probably aren't.

Pi September 13, 2012 at 11:54 AM
The US is in a better place than it was 4 years ago. Why is the economy in shambles? Two reasons. 1. 8 years of terrible economics 2. A Republican congress who doesn't care about fixing the economy. They've made it clear. They want Obama out more than they want a fixed economy. So you can sit here and nitpick about too much energy at the 2012 DNC. The 2012 DNC was good because they told the truth and showed how their plan has stemmed the tide with or without Congressional support. What did the RNC do? They, like usual, mongered hate and fear. A geriatric lecturing a chair stole the show from the man who wants to be president. Jon Stewart said it best when he said Bill Clinton did a better job explaining the Republican plan better than the Republicans.
C Buck September 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Only the House is controlled by Republicans, the Senate (sadly) is still controlled by the Dems. Please try to be more informed before posting garbage bullet points from MSNBC. The Patch deserves a more fair and balanced reply.
Pi September 13, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Yeah, only the house. Go research how bills are passed and then get back to me.
Jerry McTigue September 13, 2012 at 01:15 PM
"What he needed to do was sway independent voters. And I don't think he got the job done." A Fox News poll released yesterday showed that Obama got a 12 point bounce among independents. I would call that getting the job done. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/12/fox-news-poll-obama-has-lead-over-romney-in-post-convention-poll/
John Jameson September 13, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Is this just more of Lisa Bigelow's "no spin" stuff? The GOP planned on taking four days to convince why we should vote for them, so using your logic, I guess we shouldn't. And, Obama's "failure to cultivate relationships inside Congress" -- really, Ms. Bigelow?? Where is you column taking Mitch McConnell to task for stating the GOP would do everything in their power to make sure the President served only one term? Or is that how Republicans cultivate relationships???
JimH September 13, 2012 at 01:57 PM
He wasn't able to get anything done with a 2 year super majority. His major piece of legistlation 'ACA' was passed on strickly partisan votes and now we find out from the CBO that it's not going to cost the estimated 940 bil but 1.6 Trillion http://news.yahoo.com/cbo-obamacare-price-tag-shifts-940-billion-1-163500655.html. This president has no negotiation skills. Read Bob Woodruff's book "The Price of Politics". How he totally blew the debt ceiling deal. Prior to being president his only negotiation experience was the deal between him and Tony Rezko for his house. His budget got zero votes in a Democratic controlled Senate. He has no intention of "reaching across the aisle". And don't get me started on his foreign policy. Yesterday was just a glimpse of what's to come.
Pi September 13, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Another Romney lie that the right wing blindly believes. Obama NEVER had a super majority. He did have a majority but the best that majority could do is block filibusters. In the 111th Congress, there were 257 Democrats and 178 Republicans. That gave the Democrats a 53 to 47 percent advantage. A simple majority requires 218 votes. 435/2= 217.5 which the Democrats had. A Super majority requires 2/3s which is 290 votes in the House of Reps. So no, Obama NEVER had a supermajority like Romney claims.
James H September 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Both conventions were nothing but a colossal waste of money. The conventions were originally designed to elect a party choice for president. If that choice is already made then use the money spent on balloons, crepe paper, and boondoggle photo-ops on fixing the problems we face as a country.
JimH September 13, 2012 at 02:41 PM
It was enough for him to ram through Obamacare
cheers September 13, 2012 at 03:02 PM
First, stop spinning statistics and just admit the economy is bad and either not improving fast enough or getting worse. Can we agree on that? Next question: If Obama is re-elected, putting all cultural issues aside (abortion, etc), do you believe he is the leader that has the ability (this includes skill in bringing the Congress together) to improve the economy and put the US on a path to prosperity? Be honest with yourself. - don't worry about what anyone else thinks. If the answer is no, then don't vote for him. Then decide if you want to vote for Romney or not vote for any presidential candidate.
Pi September 13, 2012 at 03:08 PM
The Affordable Healthcare Act was voted in 219-212 with all 178 Republicans voting against. You would think a supermajority like you claim wouldn't have to "ram" it through.
Pi September 13, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Republicans broke the system and now they're not only mad that Democrats haven't fixed it fast enough but they want another shot at ruining it again. Please explain to me how deregulating an industry run by the people who destroyed it will fix a problem? Recessions take time to recover from. It's a long road to fix it. I can smash a vase in 2 seconds but it would take me hours to glue all of the pieces back together.
JimH September 13, 2012 at 03:21 PM
I stand corrected: There was bi-partisanship in the "Afordable" Care Act vote - AGAINST IT.
DM September 13, 2012 at 03:33 PM
How did the Repubs break the system?
AJ September 13, 2012 at 05:29 PM
So The Patch has a confirmed Republican pick apart the DNC and Obama's speech eh? Did they have a confirmed Democrat pick apart the RNC and Romney's joke of a speech and Ryan's speech that was filled with misinformation? If they did I apologize but I must have missed it. If not, at least we know now that the Patch is essentially the local Fairfield version of Fox News. Spew on.
momofone September 14, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Yes! You go Jerry! Call this writer out on her opinions, which are not based on fact, or statistics.
momofone September 14, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Agreed, AJ. This one-sided nonsense the Patch publishes every week is misleading. Why is there no one espousing the other side? I've said it before and I'll say it again...this columnist is ANYTHING BUT rhetoric-free and spin-free.
Caitlin Mazzola (Editor) September 14, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Patch does publish a weekly liberal column, Heather Borden Herve's "Patch In." Each writer chooses the topic she will cover that week -- Heather was away the week following the Republican National Convention and last week; she re-debuted this week with a column about hate in the United States: http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/hate-is-getting-us-nowhere-419263c6 Here are some of her political & election-related columns: http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/buffoon-of-the-week-i-nominate-todd-akin-acc5dfb6 http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/why-im-thrilled-romney-picked-paul-ryan-c8289ad7 http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/my-healthcareand-yourshangs-in-the-balance-f12169b6 http://fairfield.patch.com/articles/we-havent-really-come-a-long-way-baby You can find all of her columns here: http://fairfield.patch.com/columns/patched-in-12
V. Scheurich September 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The Democratic Party and their ideology and rhetoric and liberal policies have now led America and the world to riots and death. The Leader of the free world, Barack Obama, does NOT care about America and actually does NOT care what happens to Americans. He talks a good game but won't walk his talk: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2012/09/13/unreal_obama_skipped_daily_intel_briefing_immediately_following_assassination_of_us_ambassador
V. Scheurich September 14, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Attacking the Patch is wrong and you know it.
Concerned Parent September 14, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Our President made the huge mistake to allow himself to be a puppet for his party. I had hoped that he would be the one individual that could bridge the divide in DC. Unfortunately, he has proven himself to be an even more divisive force in DC. When you look at terms like success..that is something that can easily be said about this Administration by those who are part of his voter base. However, this sentiment is not shared by those who were overlooked and dismissed by this President when he sign the Healthcare bill into law, despite widespread criticism by half this country.
John Jameson September 14, 2012 at 07:44 PM
The President has been divisive?? Have you not seen the clip of Mitch McConnell stating for the record that the GOP plan was to make sure Obama was a one-term president?? Amazing, isn't it, that bills that the GOP supported suddenly became the worst thing in the world if they had the support of the President? And I've seen many polls and analyses of the Affordable Health Care Act that show that when simply asked if they supported the bill, people said no. But when asked about individual aspects of the bill, such as being able to secure coverage despite pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on parents' health care plans, forcing insurance companies to spend 80 percent of healh premiums on delivering care, and not allowing insurance companies to hike premiums for no reason, many more people supported the plan.
momofone September 15, 2012 at 05:30 PM
"The Democratic Party and their ideology and rhetoric and liberal policies have now led America and the world to riots and death." Did you think before you wrote that? What about the two immoral wars Bush and the Republicans got us into? Trillions of taxpayer dollars and an unconscionable number of military and civilian lives. Someone has a short memory. Oh, and please look that the numbers in yesterday's poll which asks American which candidate understands the needs of the people. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/14/us/politics/2012-presidential-election-poll.html?ref=politics
Kevin October 15, 2012 at 10:11 PM
hey john,are you as stupid as you seem to be?

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