Byron York

Obama's real second-term agenda, as outlined in his speeches and other campaign appearances, is protecting the work of his first term. He'll keep troops out of old war zones. He'll protect Obamacare from repeal. He'll keep pushing, and funding, green energy. The critics who (correctly) say Obama doesn't have a second-term agenda sometimes miss the fact that much of Obama's argument for re-election is that he needs another term to keep in place the things he has already done.

As for anything new, the really big things he would like to do -- revisiting a cap-and-trade system or enacting amnesty as part of comprehensive immigration reform -- would likely be poison at the polls. So he sticks to the small stuff.

Meanwhile, Obama is stepping up his effort to scare voters away from Romney. On Monday he released a new ad returning to the tried-and-true accusation that Romney will somehow outlaw all abortions in the United States. "Ban all abortions?" the ad asks. "Only if you vote for him."

The ad played an out-of-context quote from a November 2007 Republican debate in which Romney was asked whether, if Roe v. Wade were overturned and Congress passed a bill banning abortion, he would sign the bill. The ad shows Romney saying he would. What it does not show is Romney arguing that such a situation is simply not possible. Yes, if Roe were overturned, and yes, if there were a national consensus against abortion, and yes, if Congress passed such a bill, Romney explained, then he would sign it. "But that's not where we are," Romney said. "That's not where America is today."

The Obama campaign has had a lot of success steering press attention toward Romney's deficiencies, especially toward the lack of specificity in the Republican's proposals. But perhaps Obama's greatest success has been in concealing the extraordinary emptiness at the heart of his own campaign. With Election Day less than three weeks away, with everything on the line, he is a man with remarkably little to say.


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner