Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 9:32 AM
This is the campaign where everybody pretends to misunderstand everybody else. There's a caveat: To plead ignorance effectively, the fact you're pretending to get wrong must be pre-memed. Mitt Romney gets called out when an ad quotes Obama quoting John McCain, and there's a dogpile on the Romney campaign.
Romney's new web ad is on more solid ground, because it uses a line that's been taffy-pulled for four months.
Alas, that's not quite what Obama said. The context (which was even lost at the time) was Kroft congratulating Obama on what he'd done so far.
KROFT: You definitely have some impressive accomplishments.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Steve.
KROFT: No, you do. And more than a lot of presidents who manage to get reelected. My question is, is it enough? Why do you think you deserve to be reelected?
After some windbaggery, Obama said this:
The issue here is not gonna be a list of accomplishments. As you said yourself, Steve, you know, I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, F.D.R., and Lincoln — just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history. But, you know, but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do. And we're gonna keep on at it.
Obama was talking specifically about "the first two years" of his first term. Quick rundown: Stimulus, Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, DADT repeal, New START. I'd argue that Obama sells George W. Bush short here, because he passed his three legislative priorities before 9/11 and the subsequent, initially successful response. Presidents shouldn't ever talk about themselves like this. But he wasn't calling himself, overall, one of the four best presidents.