Tony Harnden of the British Daily Mail filed an article about the differences between covering Obama;s campaign in 2008 and in 2012. The title summarizes the story: Low blows, lower turnouts and low expectations: Four years after he was swept to victory, how Obama's election campaign is a joyless slog. One detail, however, stuck in my mind.
Another remarkable thing is that many of those at Obama's events - like many people across the country - are not listening to him. In Reno on Tuesday evening, it was at times hard to follow what Obama was saying because of the chatter.
A number of those attending seemed only to want to get a picture of themselves with Obama speaking in the background. In 2008, audiences would be rapt, almost mesmerised, when Obama spoke. At Romney and Ryan events there is near silence and many an intent, furrowed brow as the case for change is made.
In Las Vegas, the crowd chanted 'Yes We Can' before Obama appeared but it sounded like a dirge rather than the perky, upbeat chant of 2008. It was so different that one local reporter even walked over to me to ask what they were chanting.
I wonder how many of those in the Nevada audiences had been advised to show up by local government bosses and union stewards? That would explain the need to take all those pictures with a president they apparently thought so little of that they talked to each other throughout his speech. It is an old Democrat tactic to fill rallies with those who fear for their jobs if they don't show up. In Chicago, Democrat rallies were usually scheduled for noon in Daley Plaza just outside City Hall and city workers were ordered to be there in force so the TV cameras could show a packed crowd.
Easterners tend to think of Nevada as part of the largely small "l" libertarian Old West. Before WWI it was, but before the mob had the occupancy certificates for their first Nevada hotel and casino they had imported their pet unions to manage the labor market. Until the last few years when Nevada became home to numerous tax refugees from Southern California those unions pretty much controlled the state's politics and they are still formidable.