Comedian-in-Chief Warns of “Severe Outbreak of Romnesia”

I agree with Jonathan that President Obama’s “Romnesia” schtick is one of the latest signs of trouble for his campaign. Obama didn’t do as well in the debate last night as he’d hoped, so he’s back to making up puns about his opponent’s name:

“We had a severe outbreak last night,” the president said to cheers. “It was at least stage-three ‘Romnesia.’”

“Outbreak of Romnesia” is like one of those bumper-sticker jokes you see on the cars of overly-earnest progressive activists. But the Obama campaign didn’t put it on a bumper sticker; they put it into a speech, and somehow convinced the president read it in public, repeatedly. Maybe he could have gotten away with it if the economy was booming, but in the current atmosphere he’s not helping himself by giggling about Romnesia, Big Bird, and binders on the campaign trail two weeks out from an election. You know you’re in trouble when even Gawker is snapping at you to get serious:

[Obama’s] inaugural address—a deeply depressing read in light of the last four years—contained a stern admonition to those who insisted on sweating the small stuff: “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises…. [I]n the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

That’s the same guy who let loose last night, in the midst of a debate that was ostensibly about how many people we are going to kill over the next four years and under what circumstances, this little nugget: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”

That’s a middling joke. It should by no means be coming from the president of the United States, let alone one who promised to put away childish things. It’s a dumb “zinger,” transparently crafted to appeal to the Mark Halperins and Politicos of the world. That’s not to say that humor has no place in political rhetoric or that Obama betrays his promise every time he deigns to insult his opponent. But to graft a pre-planned VH1 Best Week Ever-level joke onto a nationally televised discussion about life and death and our role on the world stage is scarcely less pathetic than the desperate flailings of the McCain campaign that I smugly scoffed at four years ago.

If the Obama campaign is winning, why are they behaving like they think they’re losing? You can bet if Romney was out on the campaign trail warning about “Obamnesia outbreaks” and running “parody” ads about Sesame Street, pundits would say he’s in panic mode.

Most of the polls still show a very close race, and Obama is ahead in several electoral projections. But maybe the campaign knows something we don’t. Why else go so small and petty in the final days of the race, unless the tide is moving against you and you’re flailing blindly for a life preserver?