FOUR MORE YEARS
…A case might still be made for Mr. Romney if Mr. Obama’s first term had been a failure; if Mr. Romney were more likely to promote American security and leadership abroad; or if the challenger had shown himself superior in temperament, capacity and character. In fact, not one of these is true. …We were disappointed that Mr. Obama allowed the bipartisan recommendations of his fiscal commission to wither and die and that he and Speaker John A. Boehner failed to seal a fiscal deal in the summer of 2011. Mr. Obama alienated Congress and business leaders by isolating himself inside a tight White House circle that manages to be both arrogant and thin-skinned. …But economic head winds and an uncompromising opposition explain some of these failures — and render that much more impressive the substantial accomplishments of Mr. Obama’s first term.
OBAMA STOOPS, DOESN’T CONQUER
Throughout the debate, Obama kept it up, slashing, interjecting, interrupting, desperate to gain the upper hand by insult if necessary. …Romney’s entire strategy in both the second and third debates was to reinforce the status he achieved in debate No. 1 as a plausible alternative president. He therefore went bipartisan, accommodating, above the fray and, above all, nonthreatening. That’s what Reagan did with Carter in their 1980 debate. If your opponent’s record is dismal and the country quite prepared to toss him out — but not unless you pass the threshold test — what do you do? Romney chose to do a Reagan: Don’t quarrel. Speak softly. Meet the threshold. We’ll soon know whether steady-as-she-goes was the right choice.
WHEN AMERICANS SAW THE REAL OBAMA
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Why was the first debate so toxic for the president? Because the one thing he couldn’t do if he was going to win the election is let all the pent-up resentment toward him erupt. Americans had gotten used to him as The President. Whatever his policy choices, whatever general direction he seemed to put in place he was The President, a man who had gotten there through natural gifts and what all politicians need, good fortune. What he couldn’t do was present himself, when everyone was looking, as smaller than you thought. Petulant, put upon, above it all, full of himself. …But that’s what he did. And in some utterly new way the president was revealed, exposed. All the people whose job it is to surround and explain him, to act as his buffers and protectors—they weren’t there. It was him on the stage, alone with a competitor.
WHAT MODERATION MEANS
NEW YORK TIMES
Being moderate does not mean being tepid. It will likely take some pretty energetic policies to reduce inequality or control debt. The best moderates can smash partisan categories and be hard-charging in two directions simultaneously. Moderation is also a distinct ethical disposition. Just as the moderate suspects imbalance in the country, so she suspects it in herself. She distrusts passionate intensity and bold simplicity and admires self-restraint, intellectual openness and equipoise. There are many moderates in this country, but they have done a terrible job of organizing themselves, building institutions or even organizing around common causes. …Therefore, there’s a lot of ignorance about what it means to be moderate. If politicians are going to try to pander to the moderate mind-set, they should do it right.
THE SPRINT TO ELECTION DAY
NEW YORK TIMES
Mr. Romney, who has moved up in the national polls, has apparently decided to play it safe in the final stretch… The latest swing-state poll numbers suggest that he will have to do better. In the crucial state of Ohio, Mr. Romney hasn’t been ahead in any poll for the last two weeks… For Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama’s decision to bail out the auto industry and his own rejection of it is proving to be an Electoral College challenge. Several states are also feeling the benefits of an improved economy. Obama campaign officials say that to win, Mr. Romney would have to pick off voters already committed to the president in states where Mr. Romney has never been ahead. …Millions of voters still harbor doubts about Mitt Romney. He has apparently decided that in the final days of the campaign, he will do little to dispel them.