Ah, the summer slump. Time to eat your own.
It seems like only yesterday that the Democrats were screaming, "The sky is falling!" Actually, it was about a month ago. Key party leaders and strategists saw the presidency slipping from their hands.
No less than renowned Clinton strategist James Carville was one of the first to issue a scathing alert.
"My message is simple: WTFU. Translated -- wake the you-know-what up, there is an earthquake," Carville wrote. "Democratic fundraisers, activists, supporters, and even politicians alike have somehow collectively lapsed into the sentiment that the president is going to be reelected and that we have a good shot to take the House back while holding the Senate.
"I ask: What are you smoking? What are you drinking? What are you snorting or just what in the hell are you thinking?"
From there, the panic spread.
"We've all got to get in the same boat and start paddling in the same direction, or we're going to have some problems," Debbie Dingell, a Democratic National Committee member and wife of Michigan Rep. John Dingell, told the Associated Press.
"We can't take this for granted," Peter Burling, a DNC member from New Hampshire, added. "I intend to be running scared from now until November."
As the fears grew to a fevered pitch, Obama stepped in to pour gas on the flames. He handed the Republicans the gimme of their dreams.
"The private sector is doing just fine," he said in a White House press conference.
It was the gaffe heard 'round the world. He had barely finished uttering the words before Mitt Romney and the Republicans were painting him as out of touch, and Democrats were crying that he'd soon be out of office.
And then, almost as quickly, it was the GOP's turn. The president and the Supreme Court managed to turn the campaigns on their heads and veer attention to immigration and health care. Romney fumbled, stumbled and -- as he attempted to clarify some muddled messaging from his staff -- seemed to be flip-flopping all over again.
"Actually," he said in a hastily called Fourth of July interview on CBS News, "the -- chief justice, in his opinion, made it very clear that, at the state level -- states have the power to put in place mandates. They don't need to require them to be called taxes in order for them to be constitutional. And -- and as a result, Massachusetts' mandate was a mandate, was a penalty, was described that way by the legislature and by me. And so it stays as it was."
Suddenly, Obama had the upper hand and a cacophony of conservatives were screaming, "Off with their heads!"
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch set off the firestorm with a simple tweet urging Romney to dump his staff. The Wall Street Journal (not so coincidentally owned by Murdoch), followed up with an editorial that said the Republicans' Man from Massachusetts was "slowly squandering an historic opportunity."
"The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault. We're on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that 'Obama isn't working.' Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that," the Journal added. "What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."
Then conservative mega-mouth Rush Limbaugh stepped in.
"If this keeps going this way, we're going to lose it all, folks," he said on his radio show.
But just when it looked like there were flames showing on the campaign's right-wing engine, along came the latest, putrefyingly tepid, jobs report from the Labor Department. And, WHAM! the monkey wrench was flung back into Obama's campaign mechanics.
As Rosanne Rosanneadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live, "It just goes to show you, it's always something -- if it ain't one thing, it's another."
The bottom line: There are real reasons for worry in both camps. One might pull ahead in one survey, only to slip back in the next. And in a race this close, it's understandable to see this kind of public handwringing and second-guessing.
But the truth is, there are nearly four months left before Election Day, which leaves plenty of time for both sides to screw up, correct course, and screw up again -- and plenty more time for handwringing.
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison