Obama, in his speech accepting the Democrat nomination for President last night, had to make his case for reelection to the independent voters. I think that he clearly failed to clear that hurdle.
His opening was a call for voters to cast their ballots based on a choice between "two fundamentally different visions for the future." Left unsaid was a plea not to judge him on his dismal performance of the past three and half years. And related thereto, left unsaid was any direct mention of his two signature achievements, the Stimulus and the Affordable Care Act.
Obama claimed that it will take years to "solve the challenges" of our nation, adding that he has never promised that the path he is offering is "quick or easy." Funny, I seem to recall the opposite, that he promised the stimulus would heal the job market and keep unemployment below 8% and, further, that millions of green jobs were just around the corner. I am sure that most people know by now that what Obama gave us was a stimulus that didn't stimulate and a few green jobs that cost us millions.
Then there was the well worn Obama ritual of demagoging his opponents while lighting up fields of strawmen. For example, Obama said “we have been told by our opponents . . . that since government can't do everything, it should do nothing." Did anybody ever hear that spoken by any Republican? Then there was this repugnant strawman - "if the company releases toxic pollution into the air your children breathe, well that's just the price of progress.“ As always, it would seem that if you don't agree with Obama, it can only be because you are evil and uncaring. I can't see that kind of base demagoguery working with independents who, by very definition, have not yet been swayed by such repeated attacks over the past four years.
When it came to ideas, I was amazed that Obama proposed absolutely nothing new. There was a call for 100,000 new math and science teachers, to create 1 million new manufacturing jobs, to cut oil imports in half by 2020, to raise taxes on the rich, and to make more investments in renewable energy. He just pulled out his old State of the Union speeches then cut and paste.
Obama made no mention of the massive $16 trillion deficit; however, he did claim that he has put forth a plan to save our nation $4 trillion over the next decade. It is a pure smoke and mirrors plan - even the Washington Post choked on that one.
Some of the things for which Obama took credit were just appalling for their hypocrisy and will leave Obama wide open for Romney attacks at the debates, assuming Obama raises the same claims there. For instance, Obama took credit for cutting oil imports by "1 million barrels of oil a day." To the extent that decline was because of increasing US production, that had absolutely nothing to do with Obama. Indeed, U.S. oil production increased on private lands in spite of the the lessened production on federal lands. To the extent that decline was due to reduced demand, that has everything to do with Obama – it's because our economy is in such a sad state.
Likewise is the claim from Obama that "we've doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries." As to our use of renewable energy, that has only increased because consumers are being forced to purchase it at premium prices while, at the same time, Obama is heavily subsidizing its production. There is no better example of that than the US Navy being forced to purchase biofuels in order to replace exponentially cheaper jp-4 jet fuel, and that at a a time when funding for the Navy is being drastically cut. As to Obama's proud claim that thousands are working to build turbines and batteries, that is just utterly shameless. Obama promised 5 million new green jobs in 2008, but today he is bragging about a few thousand jobs that are heavily subsidized. No mention is made of the hundreds of millions that Obama has wasted in trying to create this new, government directed market. Powerline has much more on Obama's energy claims.
In sum, I do not think that Obama will win any independent voters with this speech. If these are Obama's best arguments for reelection, Romney will feast on him during debates.
Below are two related items of interest. One is a video of Charles Krauthammer's take on the Obama speech. Suffice it to say, he was as unimpressed as I. Below that is a chart from the Tax Foundation giving a side-by-side comparison of the tax plans put forth by Obama, Romney, and Simpson – Bowles respectively. As the TaxProf notes, the Obama plan not merely raises taxes, but also adds complexity, while the Romney plan is much closer to that put forth by Simpson-Bowles.