Note — The following column was published in today's edition of The Morning Sun.
The relentless optimism of four years ago is all but a distant memory. The wall posters proclaiming “hope” and “change” are faded. The unfettered enthusiasm that propelled a first-term senator from Illinois to the White House is missing from the husting circuit this time around.
Americans overwhelmingly bought President Barack Obama’s brand circa 2008 for a variety of reasons. Chief among them was this very compelling notion: If a half-white, half-black guy with a funny name could be elected president then there was no reason the country couldn’t come together to achieve anything it wanted.
What a difference four years can make.
The president’s supporters accept some things just didn’t work out. Though Obama passed much of his very liberal agenda, the results have been dreadful.
Sure the long-standing liberal goal of government-run health care was finally achieved, but what has become colloquially known as Obamacare came at a high political cost.
The stimulus spent a tremendous amount of money, but the economy remains incredibly weak to the point where a great deal of young people who voted for Obama four years ago can’t put the degree they earned to work.
Independents are highly skeptical — to say the least — of Obama. At the same time, his supporters no longer speak of Obama in the transformational sense of four years ago.
Rather, all of their rhetoric is partisan. This election has become about stopping those dastardly Republicans – you know, those in the 1 percent, who are blamed for Obama’s woes despite the fact Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for the first two years of his presidency. (It isn’t the job of the opposition party to govern.)
Obama would be in a much better position if he would just come out and acknowledge his mistakes.
He could say something as simple as, “I know the last four years haven’t been easy for you. Your concerns over our economy and the kind of future your children and grandchildren will have are real. Not everything done by my administration and my party has gone as expected, but that isn’t because I haven’t tried. Sometimes I have been overzealous, but I always tried my best. And most importantly, I always worked and fought for you.”
A statement such as that could change the dynamics of the presidential campaign in these final weeks.
Some might see it as an admission of failure — an indictment against one’s self — but if there’s one quality that Americans respect more than any it’s humbleness.
A real post-partisan politician would also call out the extreme elements of his party, who have contributed to a partisan divide that is as big as it has ever been.
The battalions of partisan foot solders won’t care if the president eats a slice of humble pie, but a politician willing to acknowledge his mistakes will impress independents.
Statesmen take credit for successes and admit mistakes. Unfortunately, there are far too few statesmen in today’s body politic.
— Dennis Lennox