Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal is a very good writer and a very smart man. But his claim that President Obama’s slimmed down version of his most recent State of the Union address – a speech Obama has taken on the road – is “soaring out in the country” is fairly wide of the mark.
We just learned, for example, that only 36 percent of likely voters grade the Obama administration’s handling of the economy at good or excellent, while a huge number — 62 percent — grade the president at fair to poor, with poor collecting the largest number: 45 percent. Now I recognize that people could like Obama’s speeches and disapprove of his policies. But in the end, they will (unlike 2008) cast their vote based on his deeds rather than his words. And Henninger’s claim that Obama is the “maestro” of the “inner melodies of life in America these days” isn’t something I detect when looking at polling data or, frankly, much else.
I’m glad Henninger is raising warning flags, because conservatives should assume the race against Obama won’t be easy. And there are reasons to guard against soaring confidence when it comes to the 2012 election. But my own sense of things is Obama long ago lost his claim to being America’s rhetorical maestro – and while his words may play well in a pre-selected crowd in Chandler, Arizona, they have fallen flat with most Americans.
If Barack Obama wins the presidency in November, it won’t be because he stirred the hearts of Americans. It will have very little to do with any inner melodies of life in America. It will be because he succeeded in utterly destroying the reputation of his opponent.