I confess that not in my wildest dreams did I imagine President Obama’s campaign would be so awful. Oh sure, I knew it would be “awful” in the sense of going negative, being disingenuous and blaming everyone for his failings. But I was taken by surprise by how “awful,” in the sense of incompetent and ham-handed, it has been.

Virtually every gambit and issue (“war on women,” gay marriage, and now Bain) has gone haywire, arguably inflicting more damage to Obama than to Mitt Romney.

Romney sounds like he’s the president when he responds more in sadness than in anger to Obama’s assertion he’s going to make the campaign about Bain. Romney’s statement was restrained, with only a hint of contempt: “President Obama confirmed today that he will continue his attacks on the free enterprise system, which Mayor Booker and other leading Democrats have spoken out against. What this election is about is the 23 million Americans who are still struggling to find work and the millions who have lost their homes and have fallen into poverty. President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies. My campaign is offering a positive agenda to help America get back to work.”

But now Obama’s even lost David “sharp crease” Brooks:

While American companies operate in radically different ways than they did 40 years ago, the sheltered, government-dominated sectors of the economy — especially education, health care and the welfare state — operate in astonishingly similar ways.

The implicit argument of the Republican campaign is that Mitt Romney has the experience to extend this transformation into government.

The Obama campaign seems to be drifting willy-nilly into the opposite camp, arguing that the pressures brought to bear by the capital markets over the past few decades were not a good thing, offering no comparably sized agenda to reform the public sector.

In a country that desperately wants change, I have no idea why a party would not compete to be the party of change and transformation. For a candidate like Obama, who successfully ran an unconventional campaign that embodied and promised change, I have no idea why he would want to run a campaign this time that regurgitates the exact same ads and repeats the exact same arguments as so many Democratic campaigns from the ancient past.

Obama promised hope and change. It’s not like he actually planned to deliver. And really, when did a Chicago Democrat ever deliver anything like that?

Related thoughts from Mickey Kaus. “Romney’s Bain experience may or may not give him credence as a private sector ‘job creator.’ But is that really the main reason it’s relevant? Doesn’t it more obviously give him credence as a man who can cut the inefficiencies out of a bloated federal bureaucracy (that still doesn’t seem to think it faces in any kind of spending crisis).”