The world is slowly returning to its proper axis after being out of kilter for a while. San Francisco is once again the best team in the NFL. The Chicago Cubs lost 100 games. Hockey players are locked out, causing the fourth work stoppage in 20 years. NBC is the number one TV network again. Nucky Thompson is back and is as slimy as ever. And Nicholas Brody has also returned, teasing us with the prospect that he really isn’t an American terrorist, just some poor, misunderstood Muslim convert who may be the next vice president of the United States.
Oh…and did I mention Republicans have given us permission to believe the polls again?
That’s right. Mitt Romney’s stellar debate performance has revived his moribund campaign, energized his supporters, and put the magic back in opinion polls. Somehow, the same random sampling that pollsters were using when Mr. Romney was in deep trouble has produced favorable results for the GOP candidate. The latest Pew survey interviewed 567 Romney supporters and 552 Obama partisans. The sample shows the race dead even among registered voters and gives Romney a 4 point lead among likely voters.
Whether one “believes” the polls or not, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the race is close. It was close when Romney was supposedly in trouble and it’s close now. It is likely that a few hundred thousand votes — maybe less — in two or three states will determine who will be sitting in the Oval Office on January 20, 2013. This has been foreordained for months, and the dynamics that have prevented either candidate from pulling away remain the same. That fact is that people are looking for a reason to vote for Romney and kick Obama out, but the Republican candidate has been unable to give them one.
This is partly his fault, but it is mostly due to a vicious campaign of lies and half-truths that have painted the GOP candidate as a cross between Gordon Gekko and Babbitt — an evil, uncaring plutocrat who would ship his grandmother’s job to China if given the chance. Romney was able to break through the clutter during the debate where 68 million Americans began to wonder who this smiling, confident, moderate guy was and what did the GOP do with the “real” Romney. The change in voter attitudes toward Romney is remarkable. The aforementioned Pew poll shows that voters now think he’s not such an ogre after all. His favorable rating is over 50% for the first time, placing him in a tie with Obama. And he is slaughtering the president in voter perceptions on how well he can handle the deficit (+15) and create jobs (+8).
With the next presidential debate about foreign policy on October 16 (the Biden-Ryan debate will take place October 11), Romney decided it might be a good idea to burnish his credentials on foreign affairs while giving a few whacks to Obama in the process. To this end, the candidate gave what was billed as a “major foreign policy address” at the Virginia Military Institute. Among many historic tidbits about VMI is that the legendary Stonewall Jackson taught at the school for 10 years prior to the Civil War. Jackson suffered from dyspepsia and was known to constantly suck lemons when his malady became acute, giving his countenance a predictably dour look.
After listening to Romney’s speech, no doubt the president was reaching for the lemons himself.