Sakset/Fra hofta

Barack Obama har brukt så mye av sin kampanjekasse at han ikke lenger har det økonomiske overtak på Mitt Romney som han hadde til å begynne med. Samtidig ligger de jevnt i meningsmålinger.

Obamas gjenvalg er ikke like gitt som tidligere antatt.

Medienes latterliggjøring av Romney kan villede leserne. Den er ikke dekkende for situasjonen.

Økonomi

President Obama has spent more campaign cash more quickly than any incumbent in recent history, betting that heavy early investments in personnel, field offices and a high-tech campaign infrastructure will propel him to victory in November.

Since the beginning of last year, Mr. Obama and the Democrats have burned through millions of dollars to find and register voters. They have spent almost $50 million subsidizing Democratic state parties to hire workers, pay for cellphones and update voter lists. They have spent tens of millions of dollars on polling, online advertising and software development to turn Mr. Obama’s fallow volunteers corps into a grass-roots army.

The price tag: about $400 million from the beginning of last year to June 30 this year, according to a New York Times analysis of Federal Election Commission records, including $86 million on advertising.

Fordel borte

But now Mr. Obama’s big-dollar bet is being tested. With less than a month to go before the national party conventions begin, the president’s once commanding cash advantage has evaporated, leaving Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee with about $25 million more cash on hand than the Democrats as of the beginning of July.

Despite Mr. Obama’s multimillion-dollar advertising barrage against Mr. Romney, he is now being outspent on the airwaves with Mr. Romney benefiting from a deluge of spending by conservative “super PACs” and outside groups. While Mr. Romney has depleted much of his funds from the nominating contest, he is four weeks away from being able to tap into tens of millions of dollars in general election money. And many polls show the race to be very close.

Obamas kampanje brukte 70 millioner dollar bare i juni, halvparten på annonser, og det er langt mer enn de tok inn. Kampanjen må se seg om etter penger. Det betyr flere fundraising dinners.

Da kommer vi inn på velgjøreres vilje til å grave dypt i lommene. Har Obama den samme goodwill som i 2008, og i tilfelle nei, hvorfor ikke?

Etter snart fire år i Det ovale rom, er forelskelsen borte, og pressen ser med skarpere blikk. Maureen Dowd hadde en oppsiktsvekkende kommentar om Obama som politiker og person i New York Times.

Hun begynner med å sammenligne ham med Paul Newman, som hun personlig kjente. Han var det han kalte selektiv insensitiv mot mennesker som selv var insensitive mot ham og trodde de kunne ta eller hadde rett til en del av ham fordi de hadde sett ham på film.

Obama beskytter seg på samme måte, men han har samtidig en innebygd insensitivitet, som omsettes i manglende takknemlighet, både til langvarige medarbeidere og donorer. Det er ikke bra.

Pressen har lenge kommentert at han er kjølig. Selv når han snakker om og i svært emosjonelle situasjoner er Obama kontrollert, og kjølig/cool. Men når kjølighet kobles til insensitivitet, blir ikke resultatet så bra. Ikke for en politiker på gjenvalg.

Dowds kritikk av Obama er innsiktsfull. Den manglende entusiasmen i denne valgkampen har med disse egenskapene å gjøre.

Den heter karakteristisk nok: The Ungrateful President

Just so, the president does not think people should expect too much in return for paying $35,800 for an hour of his time, as they did at the Weinstein affair, or in return for other favors.

Obama smashed through all the barriers and dysfunction in his life to become a self-made, self-narrating president. His brash 2008 campaign invented a new blueprint to upend the Democratic establishment. So it’s understandable if Obama, with his Shaker aesthetic, is not inclined to play by the rococo rules of politics. Yet, as the president struggles to stay ahead of Moneybags Romney, his selective insensitivities may be hurting him.

Stories abound of big donors who stopped giving as much or working as hard because Obama never reached out, either with a Clinton-esque warm bath of attention or Romney-esque weekend love fests and Israeli-style jaunts; of celebrities who gave concerts for his campaigns and never received thank-you notes or even his full attention during the performance; of public servants upset because they knocked themselves out at the president’s request and never got a pat on the back; of V.I.P.’s disappointed to get pictures of themselves with the president with the customary signature withheld; of politicians disaffected by the president’s penchant for not letting members of Congress or local pols stand on stage with him when he’s speaking in their state (they often watch from the audience and sometimes have to lobby just to get a shout-out); of power brokers, local and national, who felt that the president insulted them by never seeking their advice or asking them to come to the White House or ride along in the limo for a schmooze.

Care and feeding has been outsourced to Joe Biden, who loves it, but it doesn’t build the same kind of loyalty as when the president does it.

“He comes from the neediest profession of all, except for acting, but he is not needy and he doesn’t fully understand the neediness of others; it’s an abstraction to him,” says Jonathan Alter, who wrote “The Promise” about Obama’s first year in office and is working on a sequel. “He’s not an ungracious person, but he can be guilty of ingratitude. It’s not a politically smart way for him to operate.”

Newman wanted to be an actor, not a movie star. Obama wants to be a policy maker, not a glad-handing pol. Sometimes after political events, even small meetings, he requires decompression time. Unlike Harry Truman or George Bush senior, he prefers not to mix relaxing with networking. He sticks mostly to golf with his male aides.

“Needy politicians, like Bill Clinton, recharge at political events,” says Alter. “But, for Obama, they deplete rather than create energy.”

Richard Wolffe, the author of Obama portraits, “Renegade” and “Revival,” agreed: “The very source of his strength as an individual, that he willed himself into being, that he’s a solitary figure who doesn’t need many people, is also clearly a weakness. There are people who’ve worked with him for years who don’t understand why he gives so little back.”


“He is always removed and participating at the same time, self-conscious and without the visceral need or love of transactional politics that would characterize Bill Clinton or L.B.J. or even W., in a way.”

Record Spending by Obama’s Camp Shrinks Coffers

The Ungrateful President