Frank Bruni’s latest column is sort of interesting.
Bruni can’t stand Romney, and spends at least half of his piece making that fact crystal clear, just so his readers won’t get the wrong impression. But he’s also disappointed in Obama, and is starting to think it’s even within the realm of possibility that Obama might lose.
Bruni says that with huge regret. But he thinks the mean-spiritedness of Obama’s campaign—a truculence that Bruni believes Obama was forced to display in order to make up for his relative lack of energy in the first debate—has soured the moderate voter on the president:
The miracle ended at the first debate, in Denver, and the problem with that face-off went beyond Obama’s sleepwalking to the kinds of subsequent debates it forced on him. To shake off what happened, he had to turn truculent, and while that technically “won” him his second and third meetings with Romney, he lost something in the bargain. He undercut his high-minded, big-vision brand, whole stanzas of doggerel intruding on the poetry.
His “bayonets” line was clever all right, and plenty fair in its way, but it had a schoolyard nastiness to it, the same nastiness in one of his campaign’s most prominent ads, which showcases Romney’s off-key rendition of “America the Beautiful.” I wonder how that line, that ad and the overall atmospherics register with voters in the middle, some of whom are no doubt asking themselves where “hope and change” went and hid.
Bruni never pauses to recall that the “America the Beautiful” ad was put out way before the first debate ever happened. But never mind. Bruni’s point that something has soured in Obama’s presentation this go-round is well-taken.
But what interests me most about the column is its comments section, which I would imagine is loaded with NY Times regulars. Over and over and over quite a few of them state that, if worst comes to worst and Obama loses, it will be because of racism.
Are they really saying that a country that elected Obama by a large margin in 2008 has become too racist to re-elect him in the intervening four years? That there is no logic to their position—that the majority don’t even try to explain how or why such a thing could be—is a fact that seems to escape them. An Obama loss would equal racism, QED. To them, there is still no other explanation for not voting for Obama—certainly not any possible failings in Obama himself, either of policy or of character.
So if the voters of America decide to do to Obama what they did to Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992, it won’t be for the same reasons. Couldn’t be. It will be because we suddenly have become too racist to stomach the wonderful guy who deigned, out of the goodness of his heart, to be our president.