Ezra Klein, on "Why Obama abandoned audacity":
There’s a reason they’re playing down the audacity of their first term and deemphasizing the policies that they think would do the most to help in a second. The American people, their research shows, are tired of audacity and skeptical of big ideas. They’re willing to believe Obama has done about the best job he could have been expected to do given the collapse of the global economy and the intransigence of the Republicans. But if they’re going to believe that, they’re also not willing to believe that he’s got all the answers now, or that his next big idea is the one that will really turn all this around.
One also nevers tampers with a lead. And one leaves emphatically untampered a lead against a self-contracting schmendrick like Romney, who always seems to find a way to further darken an already bleak situation.
That's the politically practical approach, which, as far as it goes--and which, during the final days of a winning presidential campaign, is as far as it should go--is good enough. Conceptually, though, it reveals how successful the congressional, tea party nihilists have been.
As Klein notes, Obama's latest battleground-states campaign ad says nothing about the American Jobs Act or "protecting the Affordable Care Act until it begins insuring people in 2014." Why? We all know why. These two perfectly sensible, perfectly responsible, indeed perfectly essential government acts have been scandalized by right-wing extremists to the intimidated point of "the best is better left unsaid." (Here, Romney well knows how Obama feels.) All talk of societal "progress"--except the kind that can be measured in job creation and GDP--has become politically unfashionable. And that's an enormous electoral swing to crass materialistic conservatism.
And that's an Obama-worthy challenge of FDR-like audacity for a second term: to reinspire Americans to see beyond the kind of atomistic selfishness the right has glorified and to instead commit to a unified, national purpose. For now, though, Obama must be more Corleone-like: "I'm gonna wait, after the 'Baptism' ... And then I meet the Don McConnell and the Eric Cantors, all the heads of the familial, far-right fanatics."
Then ... kaboom.