After he conducted a focus group of swing voters in Colorado, pollster Peter Hart -- the Democratic half of the NBC/WSJ poll -- had this advice for Team Obama in an interview with NBC News: “Our focus groups show that voters see a lot of glamour and glitz from the Obama administration; they're wondering where the vision, where the valor is going to be.” More from Hart: “[Obama] is missing the mark on the middle class. He needs to get down there. It is not just rallies; he needs to be out there feeling what they are feeling, a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, a lot of uncertainty.” And: “[The public] need a sense of a vision, they need a sense of hope, they need to be able to see that it’s not just the old Obama giving them the charisma and the cool. They need to see substance over style.” We know there are many folks in Obamaland who semi-dismiss the criticism coming from Greenberg/Carville. But the ex-Clinton folks apparently are not alone.
And what did the Village make of the President's major speech in Cleveland where he did just that? We don't know, since apparently the speech was too long and had too much substance for our pundit class to be able to handle.
Prior to President Barack Obama’s marathon 54 minute speech in Ohio today, the Obama campaign sent our several statements promising the speech would be a major address framing the campaign going forward. Despite the hype, the speech was mainly a rehash of themes and ideas from the president’s recent stump speeches and his remarks were widely panned as overly long by the political press corps.
The President was hit from the left, center, and right by the Village for a speech that was "too long", "dull", "boring", a "lecture" and had "nothing new" in its 54 minutes. NewsBeast's Jonathan Alter was particularly brutal.
"I thought this honestly was one of the least successful speeches I've seen Barack Obama give," Jonathan Alter, the Bloomberg View columnist who is close to the White House, said on MSNBC. He suggested the speech lacked memorable lines and "lost the audience by the end."
Perhaps Obama has only himself to blame. He's dug out of quite a few holes with masterful speeches in the past -- most notably when he was forced to explain the heated rhetoric of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, in April 2008 -- and so now has an extremely high bar to live up to.
But this one probably won't go down in the history books, even if the campaign made clear it considered this a key moment, distributing praise for the speech and the president's approach to the economy from a litany of elected officials across the country.
Remember, this is the same Alter who complained last week that the President needed to have a long and serious talk with the electorate about jobs and the economy.
In an economy headed in the wrong direction, comparison campaigning is necessary but not sufficient. It might not matter much to frustrated voters that we’ve tried the Republican recipe for growth (tax cuts and deregulation) in the 2000s and it failed, or that Romney was 47th out of 50 governors when it came to job creation in his state. The tie -- two failed job creators -- goes to the challenger.
That means Obama must match his focus on the choice with more work on the referendum side -- more affirmative reasons to vote for him. He has begun reminding voters of the American Jobs Act he pushed last fall that would help small business and create a million new jobs, his 2012 State of the Union “Built to Last” long-term investment agenda, and last month’s congressional “To- Do List.” The problem is, they all blur together.
So he does that, and of course now he's too cerebral, too nerdy, too substantive to the point of being lecturing, boring, and dull. But remember, our "liberal media" is "in the tank for Obama".
My ass it is.