On a whim, I live-tweeted President Obama's victory speech this morning. True to the forum, I doled out the snark and only slowly realized that this was the last and best address of a horrid campaign.
Here's how it rolled off my fingertips:
In hindsight, the hashtag sarcasm makes me wince. The president loves his country deeply, of course, but perhaps the battle could have been less fierce and more substantial. Obama's winning strategy was to disqualify Romney as a contender. It worked, but the scar tissue will make governing harder. After a bruising campaign, how willing or trusting will Republicans be when Obama reaches out for compromise?
The history of this campaign will include a chapter on the former president who used his convention address to reframe the campaign. Until that point, Romney was challenging Americans to ask if they were better off than four years ago. Clinton urged Americans to wonder which candidate would make their lives better four years from now. The forward-looking frame helped turn the campaign from being a referendum on Obama to a choice between two candidates -- exactly the narrative Obama needed.
Obama made a strategic decision to avoid detailing a platform on big issues like the deficit, social mobility and climate change in favor of negative attacks on Romney and micro-targeting Democratic constituencies. It was a winning strategy, and exactly the type of politics he railed against in 2008.
Polls showed that voters like and respect their president. But they are also disappointed that Obama broke the lofty promises of the '08 campaign.
"@ron_fournier: "Now, seriously, that was a damn good speech. Four more years to turn hope to happening."
My point here was that while Obama didn't win an electoral mandate, he did get a second chance to fulfill the promise of his first campaign: Bridge the ideological divide and find solutions to the nation's intractable problems.
It was buried in attack ads, Bird Bird and binders -- the very kind of "small things" Obama denounced in 2008. In the warm glow of victory, Obama tried to convince voters -- and perhaps even himself -- that he will focus the nation, Congress and his presidency on big things. Things that matter.