How the 2012 election heralds an historical reconfiguration of American politics
This long march of a presidential election, after all its expense and duration, proved far more memorable for what it said about the country than what it revealed about the two men vying to lead it.
Neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney ran a particularly inspiring campaign. Each delivered a dud of a convention speech. (Quick: Can you remember a single thing either one said?)
Except for one golden night in Denver, Romney was gaffe-prone, distant, and, as it turned out, possessed of insular, elitist views that radiated contempt for just about anyone who didn't vote for him. Obama offered a forthright defense of activist government in principle; yet, in practice, he presented an agenda with few, and mostly modest, specifics.
- Cities Shorten Yellow Lights to Raise Revenue
- Rudman's Passing Reminds Senators of What They Can Be
- The Silver Lining in Bernanke's Remarks on the Fiscal Cliff
In each case, the candidate's own performance lagged behind the effort that sprouted around him. Romney's actual campaign apparatus sputtered (failing to match both Obama's early ad assault and the closing kick of his turnout operation). But the independent-expenditure campaign that coalesced on his behalf was breathtaking in its scale (if not its results). Obama benefited from a digital-age marvel of a campaign that hit its marks with stunning efficiency -- in the negative-ad barrage that stamped Romney's image as an indifferent plutocrat and in the precisely targeted voter-mobilization system that overwhelmed the GOP efforts. Campaign strategists will profitably study that juggernaut for years.