The Etch-A-Sketch Strategy: It's working
Mitt's turning out to be quite a formidable candidate.
And, not surprisingly, I'm not the only one beginning to think he may well pull off this coming presidential election.
Needless to say, his pandering to the far right during the GOP primaries, both in '08 and '12, still astounds and even disgusts. But he's already tacking toward the center, as we all knew he would, and it probably indicates how he'd govern, for the most part, if elected, i.e. as a slightly right-leaning centrist. No doubt, he'd pander now and then to the extreme right once in the White House, similar to how he grandstanded on the gay-marriage issue while governor of Massachusetts. But Mitt is ultimately an opportunistic centrist at heart. Everyone knows it. His conservatives critics definitely know it. He is who he is. And now he's using his centrist credentials for the etch-a-sketch stage of this campaign. Judging by the polls, it's working.
Does this mean Obama is a goner? No. He can still win this. But it's going to be close. Most importantly, the economic numbers need to improve a bit more to really help Obama. There are only five or six more unemployment reports due out before the November election. Obama desperately needs fatter jobs-growth numbers to create a stronger sense that we're experiencing a genuine, sustainable recovery. As corny as it sounds, it still is about the economy, stupid, even if Obama inherited one hell of an economic mess from his Republican predecessor. Numbers are numbers, jobs are jobs, and the numbers and jobs picture have to break more in his favor for him to win. At this point, he has no control over them.
But there's one other thing at work here: Obama doesn't seem to have hit his stride. He hasn't developed a campaign theme. He hasn't been inspiring. He doesn't seem like he knows where he's going -- or where we should be going. He's got to show more joie de vivre
-- and he isn't. He is who he is, too.