Until now, President Obama has been testing his reelection themes off-Broadway, in fund-raising appeals to small groups of supporters and in policy speeches in places like Kansas. The official story has been that the real political pitches would have to wait until the Republican nominee is selected. Or, as the president joked to Jay Leno, "I'm going to wait until everybody is voted off the island. Once they narrow it down to one or two, I'll start paying attention."
But with Tuesday's fiery address to the United Auto Workers convention, it became clear that the president has been paying attention to the Republican race. And he's not about to pass on the opportunity to pounce when one of those remaining Republicans is vulnerable on an important issue. By any measure, it is clear today that Mitt Romney made a political mistake when he wrote his famous "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" piece for the New York Times Nov. 18, 2008. It seemed harsh at the time and only looks worse now that the U.S. auto industry is thriving and back on its feet after a government rescue. And his attempts to explain his position before the Michigan primary were, at best, tortured.