Leading article: No easy win for Barack Obama

Share

At last week's Republican convention, to much bafflement and widespread derision, Clint Eastwood conducted a rambling interview with an invisible President Obama, as if he were sitting beside the actor in an empty prop chair. At the Democrats' gathering which opens today in Charlotte, North Carolina, the President will be there for real – and he needs to make a pretty good case for himself.

How easy it was four years ago. Back then, a young and luminous Candidate Obama seemed the man for the hour, generating a tide of enthusiasm that carried him to the White House. His victory was never really in doubt; he embodied hope and the promise of a new start. But the promise has not been translated into fact. Now he must persuade his jaded, uncertain country that he deserves a second term, despite presiding over the feeblest recovery from recession in three quarters of a century.

He can rightly lay a good deal of the blame on the Republicans who have blocked him at every turn in Congress and are far more responsible than Democrats for the partisan nastiness that has paralysed Washington. He will also accuse his opponents of being stuck in the past, offering "same-old" Reagan-era nostrums of tax cuts and deregulation – the trickle-down theorising that, as Mr Obama repeatedly says, "got us into this mess in the first place". But however justified the criticism, the President must do more.

Despite the disappointing economic recovery, he still has elements in his favour. Although his job approval ratings hover below the 50 per cent mark regarded as a minimum for re-election, Mr Obama remains personally popular, which suggests that Americans accept that he inherited an extraordinary crisis that was always going to take more than four years to resolve.

The vagueness of the so-called "five-point plan" that Mitt Romney outlined in Tampa is also an opportunity. Where his challenger set out mere aspirations, the President can be specific. Indeed, he must be specific. If he is to win a second term, Mr Obama has to spell out exactly what he would do with it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Infrastructure / Network Engineer (VMware, Windows, LAN/WAN)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Primary teaching jobs in Thetford

£1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Gordon Brown’s finest hour, a letter from Quebec and the problem of anti-politics

John Rentoul
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week