Whatever one thought of the president's economic speech today, it shows just how hard is the president's path to victory. As others have noted and this speech reinforced, the president's message is so much more complex than Romney's; it requires the the mind to make a series of linkages. Just weeks ago, the president had a simple message: my programs are working. Now, as the economy seems once more on the brink, the president has to give more a lecture than a speech. Meanwhile, Romney simply has to say the words that have elected many presidents: "it's time for a change."

The president took us on a tour of recent economic history. He pointed out that Republican policies of tax cuts for the wealthy and reduced regulations had not grown our economy equitably. He explained, accurately,  that the reckoning of the decline in middle class fortunes over the last decade was delayed by the stock market and housing bubbles.  When those burst, it not only left middle-class families exposed, it triggered an historic financial meltdown, which in turned dug the hole even deeper.

He then framed the race as a choice between more Republican trickle-down and his own version of balanced deficit reduction and new investments in areas like education, medical research and clean energy. The problem, of course, is that it took the president almost an hour to make his case; right now, it only takes Romney about three seconds.