What Obama’s slump tells us

Barack Obama is really scuffling, as baseball players used to say when they went into a tailspin. As John noted, he got the death count in the Kansas tornado wrong by 9,988 people. Now, Jim Geraghty reports that Obama botched his facts in a speech criticizing the U.S. auto industry for “investing in bigger and faster cars while foreign competitors invested in more fuel-efficient technology.” Obama stated that “while our fuel standards haven’t moved from 27.5 miles per gallon in two decades, both China and Japan have surpassed us, with Japanese cars now getting an average of 45 miles to the gallon.” But Toyota, which should know, has responded that “No carmaker gets 45 m.p.g; ours is closer to 30 m.p.g.”
Any candidate can make a mistake or two, but the most recent one in particular suggests that Obama may lack the staff support he needs to compete with the Hillary Clinton machine. That conclusion is bolstered by another report from Geraghty, this one comparing the performance of the two candidates before the firefighters union, and special interest groups generally. It seems that, while Clinton presents just the right talking points to pander to a given group, Obama simply comes in with his generic pitch. Not surprisingly, audiences tend to be more impressed by Hillary.
As we’ve said in connection with the Giulinai campaign, running for president is hard work. Candidates can’t do it all themselves. Team Obama may not be a match for team Hillary.
JOHN adds: Paul is characteristically generous toward Obama, but I think the candidate can’t be let off the hook. Obama is showing a disconcerting tendency to make things up, as well as a lack of common sense. Just as anyone with normal knowledge of the world should know that a tornado isn’t going to destroy an entire town of 10,000 people and kill everyone in it, it should be obvious that no company’s entire fleet of automobiles–let alone a country’s–averages 45 mpg. Candidates have been ripped for not knowing, say, the price of a loaf of bread. But Presidential candidates do very little grocery shopping, and the gaps in Obama’s knowledge that have been revealed in just a few days have much more to do with public policy issues.
If Obama continues to be as unimpressive as he has appeared over the last week, he may drop out of the picture as a Vice-Presidential candidate.
UPDATE: Those poor folks who have been fooled, once again, by Media Matters should go here.
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