Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh, the Troubles That Come When O Leaves the Teleprompter at Home

The Obama campaign's bigger problem, both sides are now realizing, is that his words go beyond politics and are more devastating than the Romney complaints that Mr. Obama is too big-government oriented or has mishandled the economy. They raise the far more potent issue of national identity and feed the suspicion that Mr. Obama is actively hostile to American ideals and aspirations. Republicans are doing their own voter surveys, and they note that Mr. Obama's problem is that his words cause an emotional response, and that they disturb voters in nearly every demographic.

It's why Mr. Obama's "out of context" complaints aren't getting traction. The Republican National Committee's response to that gripe was to run an ad that shows a full minute of Mr. Obama's rant at the Roanoke, Va., campaign event on July 13. In addition to "you didn't build that," the president also put down those who think they are "smarter" or "work harder" than others. Witness the first president to demean the bedrock American beliefs in industriousness and exceptionalism. The "context" only makes it worse.

This gets to the other reason the Obama campaign is rattled: "You didn't build that" threatens to undermine its own argument against Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama has been running on class warfare and the notion that Mr. Romney is a wealthy one-percenter out of touch with average Americans. Yet few things better symbolize the average American than a small-business owner. To the extent that Mr. Romney is positioning himself as champion of that little business guy and portraying Mr. Obama as something alien, he could flip the Obama narrative on its head...

(Kimberley Strassel, "Four Little Words" in the Wall Street Journal.)