By DANIEL HENNINGER, WONDER LAND October 17, 2012 –
Barack Obama shows an unerring instinct for policy deniability.
Conventional wisdom holds that Barack Obama “lost” in Denver because he lacked intensity. He brought his A-game to Hofstra this week. There’s still a problem.
The most significant event in the 2012 presidential election remains the Romney miracle bump after the first debate. If Mr. Romney wins the election, analysts and scholars will spend years picking apart the Denver debate the way they have the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate.
Richard Nixon didn’t lose that election because of his five o’clock shadow, and Barack Obama isn’t going to win or lose his presidency because he lacks intensity. What we learned on Long Island is that Mr. Obama lacks something more damaging to an incumbent—a sense of presidential responsibility.
One of the most familiar Obama positions—repeated at every campaign stop—is that he “inherited” a bad economy from George W. Bush. Set aside that whatever the cause, everyone concedes he took over a tough situation. More to the point is Mr. Obama’s compulsive insistence that anything awry in the economy during his first term is “not my fault.”
The Bush-did-it narrative was a banality by the time of the debates. Then came Benghazi. Within days, the political question at the center of the incident was: What did the White House know and when did it know it? No matter one’s politics, it became impossible not to see that the White House was intent on putting “distance” between the president and responsibility for the security breaches.