Monday, November 5, 2012

Obama on the Ropes

If President Obama loses this election, it will be for one reason: He did not heed my advice

Three years ago, I wrote a five page speech and sent it, along with a cover letter, by certified mail to the president at Pennsylvania Ave. In a nutshell, I told him to step out of his comfort zone - the urban areas, the college campuses - and go small town. The speech was entitled "Small-town, USA." It detailed a rural strategy that would weave this nation closer together and ensure his re-election in one fell swoop.

I went on to say:  "You have already won the cities and universities. They will not leave your side. Now go where the people do not know you; go where they do not expect you to come. And when you get there, give them the words they long to hear. Tell them:  "This nation needs you." For each small town you visit, a hundred will be touched.

He did not do it. Instead, President Obama consistently went for the cities, the campuses, and the fancy talk shows - The View, David Letterman, The Daily Show. If not there, you were likely to find him in New York or San Francisco at some swanky fundraiser. Why? Because it was easier for him in those places. They are like "Cheers." (Everybody knows his name.) Once there, all he needed to do was give them that smile, and "strut his stuff."

One person made aware of my speech said, "No president does the small towns anymore." All the more reason for Obama to have done it. Whether he promised it or not, this country - this electorate - imagined Obama to be a transcendent figure, one who would stand above the stale models that have stifled our enthusiasm for politics and left half of us too jaded to vote.

Add to that:  Mr. Obama has counted on the specter of fear to be his surrogate campaigner, to do the heavy lifting - to hover above the Hispanic and African-American communities, to haunt the gays, the unions, and female voters. He figured the thought of Romney and the Republicans would spur them in droves to storm the voting booths. All Obama would have to do is "look good", and his re-election would be assured. "Looking good" is easy. "Being good," is harder; it takes more work.

If Obama loses this election, he will have failed - not because he was a bad president; he was not - but because he did not try hard enough to be his best.