Perhaps it was the expectations raised by his far more eloquent appearances at earlier conventions, or maybe it was the modest ambitions he embraced, or that he labored in the shadow of
If the message of the
In short, Mr. Obama gave a "stay the course" talk to a country that isn't particularly satisfied with the direction the nation is headed. It's not hard to understand why he chose to avoid the kind of lofty goals he set for himself in 2008. Older and maybe even wiser than four years ago, but more tellingly locked in a tight race where a relative handful of undecided voters in swing states could decide the election, the incumbent chose to play it safe, much as
If anyone was hoping to get a clear picture of what another four years in office might involve, they certainly didn't get it — aside from "visions" of creating 1 million manufacturing jobs, recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers and reducing budget deficits by $4 trillion. How those things would be possible, particularly with a highly partisan divided Congress, was never detailed.
Instead, like so much of what happened this past week in Charlotte, the candidate seemed more interested in reacting to Republican criticisms than staking out new ground. Mr. Obama and the
What is worrisome about this trend is that neither candidate seems to be offering an agenda so much as a promise that he won't be like the other guy. Mr. Romney is counting on voter discontent with the economy while Mr. Obama is banking on fears of a return to the economic policies of
Conspicuously absent from the discussion at either convention was the impending "fiscal cliff" and the possibility of a dramatic increase in taxes coupled with significant cuts in spending resulting in another economic recession. Can the next president negotiate his way out of that mess? How can he claim to be representing the will of the electorate if neither candidate ever articulated exactly what he intended to accomplish once elected?
That's not to suggest there aren't sharp differences between Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. From the