Frank Bruni writes: After “a couple of Cadillacs,” a summer belly-flop abroad, a dismissive swipe at 47 percent of the population and a convention best remembered for Clint Eastwood’s chat with a chair, Mitt Romney is seemingly tied with President Obama. He has a real chance. It’s a remarkable turn of events, given how many errors he’s made and how ill suited he is to this particular juncture in the American story. And to size up the situation honestly is to consider one conclusion as seriously as any other:
Obama isn’t quite the candidate, or politician, he’s cracked up to be. The One is a fraction of his reputed self.
Yes, I know: the economy. It’s supposedly the source of most of his woes, the great weight he lugs around, a nearly fatal handicap. And the fact that he’s doing as well as he is affirms the sway of his personality and sense of his policies, at least according to his most fervent admirers.
I don’t buy it. For starters, a great many Americans understand that he doesn’t bear primary responsibility for the high rate of unemployment and the drops in home prices and incomes. A CNN/ORC poll last month showed that 54 percent of likely voters placed the blame chiefly on George W. Bush and Republicans.
Additionally, 68 percent indicated some optimism about economic conditions, which they said would be “somewhat good” or “very good” in a year. There’s room in those numbers for Obama to pull well ahead of a rival as profoundly flawed as Romney. Yet he hasn’t. [Continue reading…]