Commentary Editor John Podhoretz’s Awkward Postelection Epiphany
Like me, Jonathan Chait can’t help noticing John Podhoretz’s Awkward Postelection Epiphany.
The postelection Podhoretz argues that Obama’s win was “an astonishing technical accomplishment but in no way whatsoever a substantive one.” He owes it all to the brilliance of his campaign strategists — “a peerless political instrument, a virtual machine.” Obama’s assault on Romney business career may have “been the smartest and most effective political campaign of our lifetime.”
This may be a jarring message for Podhoretz’s devoted readers, whom Podhoretz spent months assuring that Obama was flailing about and headed for near-certain defeat. Obama was politically incompetent (“what we’ve seen so far is a reminder that the skills required to mount an insurgent campaign with a charismatic unknown aren’t those needed to mount a re-election effort featuring an incumbent with a problematic record”). On top of this he was weighed down by a terrible economy. Romney was in much better condition than the polls showed, Obama in deep, deep trouble. “Without a stark turnaround in his fortunes,” observed Podhoretz, he might lose [North Carolina] by 10 points this November.”