The proof is clear and it is time for the television attack ads: Mitt Romney caused Hurricane Sandy!
Actually, this notion is nonsense and it is not time for the attack ads, but I seek to make a point. It is no secret that since the Democratic convention I have disagreed with the tactics of the Obama campaign to be so overwhelmingly negative. I have written columns with titles such as “The great USA comeback” and “Reagan 1984, Obama 2012” and most recently “Morning in Ohio” offering reams of facts and data points about how the economic crash under Bush has become an economic comeback under Obama.
This election is a 50-50 proposition. My guess is that Obama has a very slight edge in the Electoral College because he has a very slight edge in Ohio. But the question remains: Why is a president running for a second term so entirely negative, and why is the challenger running against him so equally vapid and empty about what he would do if elected?
The president needs to give voters a reason to reelect him beyond the suggestion that Mitt Romney is bad. He has a strong narrative he should have been articulating over the last year, far more than he has been, with far fewer of the negative ads and far more optimism about America.
The president has started to do this. He should escalate his optimism in the closing days.
Second, as I have repeatedly written publicly and advised privately, the president should directly name Bill Clinton to be his big gun going to Congress for the mega-deal to avoid the fiscal cliff. No less than former Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) has spoken highly of Bill Clinton's bipartisan potential. I repeat again: I agree with Sen. Gregg about this.
My Clinton move involves something the White House has never fully understood: governing. There is a difference between public relations and governing, between eloquent words and getting things done, and between a president the voters like and a president the voters will rehire. I believe President Obama has very slightly more than an even-money chance of being reelected and his chances would rise if he projected more optimism, if he talked more about the American comeback that has begun on his watch and if he brought Bill Clinton to the center of economic policy for several months after the election.
In the meantime, I will confess that Mitt Romney did not cause the hurricane, that Barack Obama has not run a campaign to be proud of, that Mitt Romney has taken more positions than Bette Davis in "The Three Faces of Eve" and that the way for Obama to win is to get as close as possible to the man who first came from a place called Hope.