The headline, which is taken from a Politico article on the President’s campaign style in 2012, says it all. In 2012, President Obama is not running on audacity or hope, but instead on poll-watching and taking as few risks as possible. Or, to take from Jon Stewart and Co., the President’s new campaign slogan should be “Yes we can, but…”

Politico goes into a long, intellectual explanation of why and how this strategy came about, as well as whether it’s working and if the Obama campaign should continue using this safe strategy. However, the reasons for this strategy can be boiled down to one short statement: the President’s major policies have failed.

Consider: in 1996 Bill Clinton could run for re-election on the economy and working with Republicans on welfare reform and balancing the budget. In 2004 George Bush could run for re-election on tax cuts, a good economy, and modest success (at that point, at least) in Iraq. What can the President run on? The economy stinks, he wants to raise taxes, he has stifled efforts at entitlement and overall budget reform, and his health care law is incredibly unpopular.

Given these failures, one would expect the President to perhaps consider a change in course. Perhaps a course that includes true entitlement reform that empowers citizens instead of bureaucrats, and tax reform that the lobbyists will hate but Main Street will find very helpful.

It is often an admirable thing when a leader sticks to his or her ideological and philosophical beliefs. After all, that’s part of what makes the person a leader. But as was pointed out in another recent post, most evidence is showing the big government, debt-ridden policies of the last four-and-a-half years have failed to significantly reverse the economic doldrums that began in December 2007. Nearly five years later, we are still economically depressed. And so when pundits and publications talk about the President’s “audacity-free campaign,” let’s remember it’s as much a recognition of failed and unpopular policies as it is a campaign strategy.