Thoughts on the Correspondents' Dinner...

Regular readers may have picked up on the fact that I have been pointing out examples of campaigning by President Obama recently. That I haven't been doing so for Mitt Romney is merely a matter of circumstances; campaigning is all he does whereas the President is still ostensibly running the country. As such, his examples of hitting the campaign trail are a little more noticeable, even if they are more subtly executed.

And that subtlety is exactly why I think it has been so fascinating to note when such campaigning has occurred. In my opinion, the President has done a masterful job of sitting back in a very presidential manner and picking spots to attack while the GOP ripped itself to shreds and Mr. Romney fell uncomfortably (for him) to the right.

The latest example* of this subtle campaigning was most certainly the White House Correspondents' Dinner, of which we have posted a transcript and a highlight video. At the dinner, the President was more comfortable and confident than I have seen him since perhaps the last election cycle. Granted, even I don't have the ability to watch every speech, analyze every handshake and ponder every bill signing.

Notwithstanding other good performances however, the dinner was Obama at his best. He managed to get a few jabs in at his opponent, utilized just the right amount of self-effacing humor and exhibited the timing of a well-rehearsed sitcom actor. For anyone who hasn't watched, getting to the end to catch the gag about the Secret Service is worth the wait.

Some may note that the well-lubricated press corps and stars in attendance seemed to be overwhelmingly Pro-bama, laughing and cheering when they were supposed to, and sometimes even a bit unexpectedly. Indeed, though the event is typically celebratory and genial in nature, some might question the propriety of the folks who Obama recognized as 'a free press that isn't afraid to ask questions, to examine and to criticize' cheering at the mention of the passage of specific legislation.

Aside from any observations regarding their lack of appropriateness, this mix of friendly faces set the table for Obama to put on his notable performance, so we can thank them for providing fodder for commentary if not for their neutrality. And despite this friendly crowd, Mr. Obama knows that things certainly won't go so well all the time leading up to November. The country still isn't at its best and the President's opponent, though scarred, is, as a result, battle-hardened.

Nonetheless, with steadying poll numbers for the President and not much enthusiasm behind him, Mr. Romney and his advisers have to be less than encouraged by the strong recent reemergence of the Campaigner-in-Chief.

*Unless you want to count the 'covert' trip to Afghanistan, which I only had the chance to look at briefly this morning before publishing this post.

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