Earlier this week, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a piece that began with what was intended as a rhetorical question: “Quick, name President Obama’s best moment in the 2012 campaign so far? What about Mitt Romney’s high point?”
Cillizza was trying to suggest that neither candidate has had a high point, to make the case that the campaign has been “mediocre”, “small” and devoid of substance.
But it’s not a head-scratcher what President Obama’s best moment has been: his convention.
He and his party delivered a proud defense of his record and his philosophy that “government can be a force for good.”
He made a case for a second term agenda that would “reward companies that open new plants and train new workers and create new jobs here in the United States of America”, set “higher taxes on incomes over $250,000”, “reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class”, “continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet” and “recruit a hundred thousand math and science teachers” … just to name a few policy goals.
After the voters saw Obama make his case, and saw Clint Eastwood make Mitt Romney’s case (wasn’t that Romney’s high point?), the polls indicate voters sided with Obama.
Cillizza’s dismissal of the substantive basis for Obama’s successful campaign to date leads him to a very pernicious conclusion: “… the relative smallness of this race — in spite of the declarations by both candidates that this election is about big things — virtually ensures that neither party emerges on Nov. 7 with a meaningful mandate…”
Excuse me? President Obama is on his way to back-to-back majority vote victories, something no president has done since Ronald Reagan, and no Democratic president has done since Franklin Roosevelt.
And he will have accomplished it in a race where each candidate’s standard stump speech draws a stark ideological contrast on the role of government nearly every day.
If that doesn’t give a president a mandate, then no election can.