All of his life he has been around people prepared to be impressed by him. President Obama once told a journalist that he believes his own bull***t. It has been his privilege to be surrounded by people who want to believe it, too.
Outside this cocoon, he has shown no great ability to persuade skeptical audiences. His make-or-break speeches on policy issues during his first term usually fizzled. He has failed to convince recalcitrant congressmen to come around on difficult legislation, or to forge relationships with them so that they’ll do him favors when the chips are down. He’s a glittering object to be admired from afar.
In recent weeks, his rhetoric has been less about persuading swing voters than about mocking Mitt Romney for the amusement of his easily amused crowds. They love it when he talks of Romney hunting down Big Bird, and eat up his lame coinage of “Romnesia,” a line that could have been borrowed from a Bill Maher monologue. While he shines in front of audiences drunk on their love for him, Obama is persistently at around 47 percent in national polls — in other words, at about the floor of what any Democrat could expect to get. So far, he has failed to convince anyone to support him who wasn’t already convinced.