This is a tale of two speeches.
First, Barack Obama’s victory speech in Iowa four years ago.
Interesting, if also a little painful to watch now. On one cold and glorious night, Barack Obama made change look easy. He was the living symbol of the dream so many Americans had dreamed. If he could be president, maybe we could fulfill America’s promise of a more equal, just, and harmonious country.
Four years later, the slogan,”Change We Can Believe In,” has become “Change Is Never Easy,” a theme the president introduced to his Iowa supporters last night in a conference call.
Now look at Mitt Romney’s speech from last night:
A confident speech that would deeply concern me as an Obama operative. Romney comes across as competent, mature and credible on the challenges facing the country. He calls the Obama administration a “failed presidency,” and specifically refers to Obama’s 2008 Iowa speech as an example of how much the reality has belied the soaring rhetoric. (One bit of advice for Romney: Don’t spend a lot of time personalizing job losses. Last night, he spoke eloquently about the very human costs — divorce, depression — that can result from long-term unemployment. My guess is the Obama team paid close attention to that part of the speech and already have workers lined up who lost their jobs after some of Romney’s business deals.)
We all knew that as the field cleared the Republicans could start making the contrast with Obama. We will undoubtedly have a few more weeks where the Republicans, after training their fire last night on Obama, are back to trashing each other. (Go, Newt!) But to equal out my advice: If I were in the Obama campaign, I wouldn’t wait long to define Romney. His Teflon is starting to harden.