Let me finish tonight with this. What grabbed me today, watching msnbc early this morning, was the closeness of this coming national election.
For all the better-than-before economic news, for all the buffoonery on the other side, the country has not committed to re-electing this president. They just haven't. And the reason has to be the usual reason of who he is and how he's done.
The question of the president's personality and the way he comes across is still an open one. There are people who hate him, of course. And there are people heavily invested in him. What comes through in the latest head-to-head polling, which has him within the margin of error with both Romney and Santorum, is that the middle is still up for grabs. When you look at that great middle of the electorate, Barack Obama is not yet the people's choice and that means who knows if he will ever be.
I offer this because of the continued fifty-fifty situation of the general electorate given the relatively good economic news coming across and, again, the Mardi Gras politics on the other side. What other explanation can there be for the continued even stand-off between Obama and Romney and Obama and Santorum than the lack of voter commitment to the president?
The issue of accomplishment is easier to assay. Obama has still not grabbed the allegiance of the voter for the basic reason that he is not seen as having grabbed control of the economy. Where is the booming growth after all these months and years since the recession hit? Is an 8.3 percent jobless rate something to brag about? And what of this 2 percent or slightly above it growth?
So we have a problem, Chicago! This is going to be a tough as heck campaign heading down to the last counts in Ohio and Florida and some other states where the voters will be where the country is now - just about fifty-fifty.
So the contest is really still ahead - the president's performance on the national stage. Can he show confidence without hubris? Can he bring the country to the same level of confidence in him that he has in himself? Can he be one of us even as he leads us?
And can he get the combination of good policy and good fortune to bring the jobless rate down? Because if he can't, this election could still fall into the hands of the other side.