The PJ Tatler

Less Soar, More Stabs: Obama Tries to Recapture 2008 Feeling

Mirroring his term since wowing the Democratic National Convention in a Denver stadium four years ago, President Obama’s acceptance speech hit peaks and valleys as he tried to recapture the fervor of the “hope and change” mantra.

But after years in the Oval Office, and facing a new foe in his quest for a second term, Obama’s tone was more angry than soaring as he repeatedly took hits at and mocked his GOP challenger.

“I know that campaigns can seem small, and even silly. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. And the truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you’re sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me — so am I,” he said in a prelude to a bevy of standard campaign lines heard multiple times by Washington reporters.

“Now, our friends at the Republican convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America, but they didn’t have much to say about how they’d make it right. They want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan. And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years,” Obama said. “‘Have a surplus? Try a tax cut.’ ‘Deficit too high? Try another.’ ‘Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!'”

The president aimed for visionary points about the future of America, but offered few specifics.

“Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And I’m asking you to choose that future. I’m asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country — goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security, and the deficit; a real, achievable plan that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity, and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation,” he said. “That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as president of the United States.”

The commander in chief touted ending the war in Iraq and killing Osama bin Laden before calling Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan “new to foreign policy.”

“After all, you don’t call Russia our number one enemy — and not al-Qaeda — unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War time warp,” he said. “You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.”

Obama took familiar swings at the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts on upper-income brackets and promoted this year’s pet project of student-loan reform.

“We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems — any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles,” he said.

“The election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens — you were the change.”

Still, he said that “the times have changed — and so have I.”

“I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the president,” Obama said. “If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them.”

“But as I stand here tonight, I have never been more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I’m naive about the magnitude of our challenges. I’m hopeful because of you.”

Obama recaptured the passion of his earlier speeches only as he wound down to the last few paragraphs.

“Yes, our path is harder — but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer — but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up,” he said. “We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.”