Obama and the zombie campaign
Obama has the scent of Death on him.
His words no longer soar. His jokes don’t evoke laughter. His crowds are smaller and older — more union-folk than fresh-faced collegians. And the people seem tired, listless, even bored. On the stump, as the president crescendos toward applause lines in his daily speeches, you can see in his eyes that even he is aware of the change. Manufactured enthusiasm and forced smiles substitute for a once-effortless charisma. The roar is gone. The folks still cheer, but the cheers are polite and obligatory.
The scent of Death is overwhelming.
It’s a familiar smell. Remember when John McCain suspended his campaign in September of 2008? During the subprime meltdown, the Republican presidential nominee put “Country First” on hold, charged off to Washington, then heroically voted for the Wall Street bailout just like his opponent and almost every other senator. McCain reeked of Death after that, and a young, impeccably cool Obama looked even younger and cooler in comparison.
How did Barack Obama become John McCain?
Barack isn’t cool anymore. Sure, he’s cooler than Romney, but that’s not the standard. No one expects Mitt to be cool. Barack was in a class by himself — the multi-layered phenom who excited the young and invigorated the jaded. He was the Everyman and the intellectual, the sophisticate and the baller, the worldly son of Chicago who could make words dance off the teleprompter and then top it off by singing some pitch-perfect Al Green.
That’s part of the problem. Barack 2012 is haunted by Barack 2008.
In 2008, Barack was easy to love — even for those who didn’t share his politics. He was Potential personified — a rags-to-riches success story, living proof that the American Dream is alive and well. He represented social progress. By his mere existence, he offered new beginnings, a chance to reconcile past sins and heal generations-old American wounds. He was Newness itself. He was dashing, affable, and athletic. He was a family man, a doting father and husband with a supremely telegenic family.
We remember Obama’s easy charm, the carefree smile, the fresh ideas, and, most of all, the hope. The hope made everything else secondary. Optimism is a perennial bestseller in America, and that’s what Barack was selling in 2008. Amid economic crisis and two wars, Obama said, “Yes, we can!” And that was enough. Obama was a blank slate, and America projected a brighter future onto him.
And here we are.
Mitt Romney wants to put “y’all back in chains,” according to the second most powerful man in the country. There’s really no need to discuss Medicare or the debt or the economy or unemployment or any other metric that might describe Obama’s America. Joe Biden may be a barely sentient being, but he has correctly intuited the thrust of the re-election strategy. Optimism is a thing of the past. Fear and venom are the new Obama campaign mainstays.
Barack Obama is going to lose in a landslide to Mitt Romney. It won’t even be close. Americans have never experienced the brand of divisive, negative campaign that the Obama team is running. (And it’s going to get worse.) Americans won’t like it, and they’ll blame Obama. He’s going to lose states that have voted Democratic for decades. It’s going to be a devastating loss. A year from now, Jimmy Carter will be compared favorably to Barack Obama.
It’s sad, more than anything else.
Yates Walker is a conservative activist and writer. Before becoming involved in politics, he served honorably as a paratrooper and a medic in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.