Maybe Barack Obama will have to settle for next PM of Canada (or is he just the Democrats’ new comeback kid)?

Oct 12th, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

[UPDATED OCTOBER 14, 15]. People have been asking me, “do you still think President Barack Obama is the biggest thing that’s happened in American history in your lifetime (as I wrote back on September 9), now that the results of the first presidential debate are in?”

I have just read my September 9 meanderings over again. And, apart from (now) realizing they are far too long, I can report that I still stand by the main thrust of what I said then.

A week is a long time in politics, and a month is even longer. But I still believe that to “now deny President Obama a second term, just because, like every other American president in history, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to FDR to George W. Bush, he finally proved unable to walk on water – as he probably did once seem to imply he could. – would be both a travesty of justice and, at the same time, a gigantic political miscalculation.”

On the night of the first debate as well, I confess that I thought President Obama did better than most Americans seem to have thought. I am a Canadian. And I feel it’s intriguing that, at two now-lost Canadian venues I noticed at the time (on CBC and Yahoo Canada), instant polls even suggested that Obama had won the debate –  in Canada where it doesn’t count.

(Like at least some other Canadians, I shared this view: “‘All in all, Barack Obama was measured and cool …while Mitt Romney was aggressive, interrupting,’ and disturbingly manic, Gonzaga University anthropologist David B. Givens tells The Daily Beast. When Obama disagreed with his rival’s remarks, he showed it simply by pursing his lips, while Romney displayed an off-puttingly ‘smirky, strained, sardonic smile.’ Romney kept talking over the host to get in the last word, looking jittery with his kinetic movements and head nods – ‘way aggressive, like Benito Mussolini.’”)

All this having been said, I certainly agree that, just over a week later, momentum in the campaign in the USA today has shifted to Mitt Romney. (See, eg, Nate Silver’s “Oct. 10: Is Romney Leading Right Now?” and “Romney extends lead over Obama in presidential race: Reuters/Ipsos poll.”) It is undeniable that Romney-Ryan has gone up since the first presidential debate, and Obama-Biden has gone down.

Whether last night’s Biden-Ryan vice-presidential debate will shift the gears again still seems unclear.  (See eg: “Relieved Democratic Pundits Declare Joe Biden Debate Winner” ; and “After the debate ended, Republicans were calling it a draw and Democrats were calling it a strong win for Biden …”) And I am deliberately entertaining no expectations at all about the next presidential debate this coming Tuesday night.

A new Gallup poll (“Americans’ Views of Obama More Polarized as Election Nears”) also casts some serious doubt on my speculation of last month about “what if President Obama really has already begun to build a new 21st century majority for a still greater American future?”

To cut right to the chase, however, it still does seem to me that there are still many good reasons to keep happily hoping the Obama-Biden ticket will win in the end (perhaps even with some continuing Democrat edge in the Senate ????). But I am now crossing my fingers much more tightly than before.

What should the good guys do? Well, just keep swinging, and working  very hard to make the bad guys’ lies clear to the people. I agree with Jon Stewart about the post-first-debate Big Bird strategy. But if I were advising the White House or the DNC, I think I’d nonetheless argue for a ‘Gangnam Style’ parody video, like the one recently devised by the York University student David Kim in Toronto, to help lure the hip young adults so important to the cause of real progress to the polls. (As the friendly right-wing robot Paul Ryan says, some people won’t like this – but they won’t vote on the side of the angels anyway.) [Click on “Read the rest of this page” and/or scroll below for OCTOBER 14, 15  UPDATES].

UPDATE OCTOBER 14: On the growing power of ‘Gangnam Style’ parodies, see two current items on the Los Angeles Times website: “Marching band showdown: ‘Gangnam Style’ vs. video game tribute” and “Psy’s Gangnam Style YouTube party is just getting started.”

There are also, in my view, two recent signs that the Obama-Biden team may be starting to stage some kind of comeback – in the tradition of the earlier Democrat comeback kid, Bill Clinton.

First, the Globe and Mail website (admittedly a Canadian newspaper, but an at least small-c conservative one in a number of respects) ran a feature this past Friday called “You decide: Obama or Romney: Who won the week?” In the accompanying online poll 59% of respondents said Obama won the week, and only 41% Romney.

Second, to cite another Los Angeles Times report: “Lindsay Lohan endorses Mitt Romney, disses her dad.”Â  Based on the track record Ms. Lohan judgement’s has shown lately, this has to be good news for President Obama.

UPDATE OCTOBER 15 : As the second Obama-Romney debate draws up to the dock, or something like that, there is further evidence that the President is coming back – or perhaps that, as historian Andrew Smith posits in “A Few Quick Thoughts About the Presidential Debate,” US “presidential debates simply don’t have much on an impact on voter intentions” (allowing of course for a few key exceptions!).

See, eg: “NBC/Marist/WSJ Poll: Even After Listless Debate, Obama Leads By 6 In Ohio” ; “Obama By 3” ; and “2012 Polls Continue To Show Close Race Nationwide, Obama Edge In Battleground States.”Â  For relief from endless numbers, but still on vaguely related themes, try : “Missouree? Missouruh? To Be Politic, Say Both” ; and “FDR to Obama: The Full Text.” None of this, of course again, is to imply that tomorrow’s October 16 debate won’t be interesting!

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