The post-hoc vision of Obama’s 2008 campaign forgets that by this point, Sen. John McCain was largely broke, off the air in key states and had a campaign in deep trouble.
Romney doesn’t share that fate. Obama isn’t going to have a geriatric punching bag to swing at in the cut-and-thrust of the last seven weeks. He’s in some of the weakest shape of any incumbent President, with unemployment, a soft economy and overseas chaos dragging at his campaign.
And Obama was in an enviable position in 2008: He could (and did) hammer McCain tirelessly over an economic crisis the senator was unprepared to discuss, defend or explain. Back then, the electorate was tired of eight years of Bush; Obama used that fatigue to help sink McCain, relentlessly hitting a message of Bush administration failings on war and the economy.
It was shocking, in some ways, that he didn’t do even better in 2008.
Now, Romney has all the economic ammunition to indict and convict the President on the economy, on Obama’s college-freshman understanding of markets and his eat-the-rich class warfare.
And Obama has to run against his own record of failure.