"But tonight, I'd ask a simple question: If you felt that excitement when you voted for Barack Obama, shouldn't you feel that way now that he's President Obama? You know there's something wrong with the kind of job he's done as president when the best feeling you had was the day you voted for him."
I've been seeing variations of this headline lately: Gibbs: Obama doesn't expect 2008 level of enthusiasm in 2012.
He's right, the level of Democratic enthusiasm will not match that of the 2008 election. I'm not sure why this is a surprise, or even news, and here's why.
The frenzy over the Obama candidacy can be boiled down to two words: Relief and ecstasy.
Relief because GW Bush was so toxic to this country, so costly to us, both in American lives and monetarily-- and of course emotionally-- that candidate Barack Obama was welcomed with unusual gusto and passion as the antidote. He would provide the badly needed relief we needed. Just getting Bush out of the White House was a shot in the arm, but replacing him with someone so Not Bush was a wonderfully euphoric psychological drug.
So coupling that immense "what a load off!" gush of emotion with the ecstasy of a landslide win by a man so intelligent, eloquent, and rational provided the stark contrast and emergence of hope we as a country so desperately needed.
We were starved for optimism after years of a fraudulent war, of having been attacked (realizing Bush had been alerted by red alarms sounding all over the place), and of natural (Katrina) and financial disasters.
Let's face it, we were pooped.
And then along came someone new and exciting, a guy who gave us a rush similar to that love-at-first-sight feeling. Someone who could win and undo some of that damage. Someone with ideas and solutions that made sense. Someone charismatic and brilliant.
And he would also be the first African-American president, so there was a unique wave of wow! and an overwhelming surge of emotion and pride and optimism that we hadn't felt in years.
Yes, Barack Obama romanced us, and we fell for him. But you know what happens to romance after you've been married for a few years. You may still be in love, but those everyday chores, the inevitable bickering, and struggles to make ends meet nudge away some of that starry-eyed, goofy lovestruckitude.
Why-- seriously, why?-- does anyone expect that kind of enthusiasm to be repeated or even sustained? Mitt Romney was aware of all of this when he said what he said in his speech.
He also knew that reality set in shortly after President Obama took office. No president could sustain that level of joy among voters, because urgent matters like war and the economy and obstruction get in the way. The GOP made sure of that last one.
Nearly every time the president tried to build a bridge, whether with stimulus money or across the aisle, Republicans blocked him. And don't even start me about that myth of a Democratic "super majority."
Soaring optimism couldn't last forever, especially in the face of the rancid mess BushCo dumped on us, and cleaning that goo up wasn't exactly glamorous, let alone hopey and changey. Getting back to work after partying was a drag, dealing with the mundane instead of the dream was no picnic, and shoveling away someone else's manure was nobody's idea of fun.
We're still shoveling. It's excruciatingly difficult, a stinky, unpleasant job that was hoisted upon America and America's lawmakers. Who could be giddy about that?
And Barack Obama is no longer a novelty, no longer new and shiny. (As for Mitt Romney, he's been none of those things for years, if ever.) We may have been swept off our feet in 2008, but we're in a steady relationship now. Let's make it last. I, for one, am remaining faithful, despite our differences, and there have been some serious ones.
There are only two realistic choices in the presidential race, and the thought of a Romney Supreme Court is horrifying.
President Obama is still our best hope, and now is not the time for change.