As I watched some of the first presidential debate, I saw openings that President Obama did not take. Then, on reflection, I wondered about the possibility of subtle strategy. For instance, when Mitt Romney admitted that oil production was higher than since about 1997, he thought this was in spite of the president’s policies. There was no pointing out that we exported more oil, in dollars, than we imported, or that Romney admitted the president has no effect on gas prices. Also, Romney claimed the top 3 percent of small businesses were not helped by the president and these employed over half the workers, which, if true, doesn’t seem as if they are very small. To put this in perspective, the top 5 percent of earners in the country made just under 22 percent of the total U.S. income.
However, none of this was addressed by a man who possesses wit and intelligence. Putting aside the fact that the president has been working a pressure-laden full-time job during this process while Romney, despite earning millions, has not held a job for a few years, something else seemed at work.
First, assuming the level of anti-intellectualism in the country, the president is trying to woo the undecideds and independents who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. And second, Mitt Romney, with a sense of victory, will publicly and unguardedly display his greatest possession after money: arrogance. These two themes could cement the president’s image as having more in common with everyday people than his opponent.
MICHAEL M. GEER