Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Nailbiting Time

The punditocracy is worried about Barack Obama. Maureen Dowd isn’t pleased with his debate performance (although she explains it’s because he really operates on a higher plane than mere mortal politicians):

The thorny questions Obama got in the debate were absolutely predictable, yet he seemed utterly unprepared and annoyed by them. He did not do well for the same reason he failed to outmaneuver Hillary in a year’s worth of debates: he disdains the convention, the need for sound bites and witty flick-offs and game-changing jabs.

Eleanor Clift was dismayed that he “spoke haltingly much of the time” and was “on the defensive,” and she now wonders if Obama would be a nominee “whose vulnerabilities boost chances of a Republican victory in the fall.” And others (here and here and here) are equally dismayed. Some are downright disgusted by the gap between Obama’s high-minded appeal to “new politics” and the cynical realities of his campaign. Some are disappointed by the fact that “it’s still true that after so many months of promising hard truths, Obama doesn’t really force people to accept any.”

Did one debate performance do all that? Was media confidence in him so shaky that a few tough questions from ABC moderators could send his standings into a tailspin? There is a bipolar quality to such opinion shifts: one day Obama is the messiah of American politics, the next he’s a deeply flawed candidate. And the public fretting that Hillary Clinton’s criticism prefigures eventual GOP attacks highlights a central problem for Obama: isn’t he going to be vulnerable when the GOP does launch its salvos?

But all this fretting is really to be expected: Obama has staked everything on his verbal acuity. When that fails, he has no safety net. He cannot point to tough campaigns or great legislative achievements to assure his base that he’s been through worse. So it all comes down to sustaining the balloon of excitement and novelty he has created.

Likewise, when Obama’s strange, far-Left associations come to the fore, or when his musings about average Americans make the news, the thin veneer of moderation and post-partisanship is torn. It makes people like Clift worry. And their fear is not entirely irrational.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.