Mitt Romney is a good man. He’s smart, successful and there’s not a hint of scandal in his 65 years. He’s boring and a little distant, but those aren’t the flaws that could prove fatal.
Romney’s big problem is that he grew up in another America. He was raised to believe there is a clear standard for adult conduct, that even politics has rules and that it is the duty of a president to unite and lead the nation through its economic crisis.
Timing could be his great misfortune. Fate has given him a demoralized electorate that is growing distant from that old America and an opponent who spouts its verities, but actually believes in none of them.
Barack Obama believes that politics is a knife fight, and the only rule is that he must win. His conduct reflects the unholy mix of a messiah complex with the muscle of The Chicago Way. His goal, he tells us, is to “transform” America, not fix it.
This culture clash explains a presidential campaign operating in parallel universes. Romney is making a broad pitch to the nation as a whole, assuming jobs, the debt, deficit and a strong military are what people care about because they should.
Obama knows that’s no longer true for a big slice of the country. He gives lip service to those issues, but they concern him only to the extent they could be his undoing. His aim is to buy four more years by using the power of incumbency to distribute goodies that will insulate his supporters from immediate pain. In exchange, they’ll give him time to turn the nation into a European welfare state, with an imperial president uber alles.
Obama’s not making a national appeal. He’s micro-targeting groups already supporting him, hoping to drive up their numbers to offset the loss of voters for whom the economy and related fiscal issues matter most.
For him, 8.2 percent unemployment is something to work around, not worry about. It is a distraction to be paved over with side deals for friends, bailouts and trade barriers for unions, a pass on immigration laws for Latinos, subsidized loans for students, huge handouts for green-energy zealots and unleashed regulatory cops to “crucify” producers of fossil fuel. He even leaks national security secrets to boost his warrior cred.
The whole jobs thing is passé because work is optional when unemployment and disability benefits are the new welfare and an increase in food stamps is proof of “fairness.” With only half the country paying taxes, the other half isn’t worried about spending. For their government masters, dependency is good.