Michael Barone

There is also much more -- more than there was in January's State of the Union -- on health care. We hear a list of promised benefits -- keeping adult children on parents' insurance, banning refusals to insure for pre-existing conditions -- which so far have failed to make most Americans love the law.

We hear little about foreign policy except for the withdrawal from Iraq, with some attractive footage of soldiers returning home and praise from Clinton and Biden for ordering the SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden.

There are the predictable shoutouts (liberals call them dog whistles) to Democratic constituency groups -- feminists, gay rights supporters, seculars, fans of green energy.

Altogether, this seems more like an attempt to shore up the Democratic base than it does an attempt to win over independents, who, polls indicate, are skeptical about many claims made in the video. Its main message is what I heard from Democratic voters I encountered on the primary trail: Things were really bad when he got in, and he needs another term to straighten them out.

For a contrast, look at the 1984 Reagan campaign's "Morning in America" ad. The narrator, ad man Hal Riney, has a soothing voice like Hanks', but his message is vastly more upbeat. America is "prouder and stronger and better," he proclaims, because of the policies of President Reagan.

You see more flags than you do in the Obama video, more smiles, couples at the altar. It looks like springtime and is filled with light.

"Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?" Riney asks. Which surely reminded viewers of the question Ronald Reagan posed in his only debate with Jimmy Carter: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Reagan stole the line from the master, Franklin Roosevelt, who, in a fireside chat before the 1934 off-year elections, asked, "Are you better off than you were last year?" But that was 46 years earlier, and no one remembered.

It's a question that the Obama campaign dares not ask.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM