Roger Simon (the good one) has an interesting post up today. Simon posits a theory that I believe has great merit in explaining the dismal debate performance of the president on Wednesday.
He dismisses all the kooky excuses and gets to the heart of what I agree must have been at play on that stage in Denver.
What we have before us in these debates is an almost archetypal confrontation—between a man who was and is an exceptionally good father and a man who was deserted by his.
Good fathering is the story of Mitt Romney’s life. He has five sons who are, by all accounts, devoted to him and vice versa. These boys grew up with a father who, although wealthy and successful, worked like a demon, doted on them, and apparently devoted an extraordinary amount of time to charitable work, in which he also involved them. Indeed, I’ve never heard of a politician who did anything quite like it.
Almost the polar opposite, Barack Obama’s father abandoned him twice and then ended up an irresponsible drunken victim of multiple car crashes. This sad behavior precipitated a search by Obama that brought him in contact with several father surrogates, notably Frank Marshall Davis and Jeremiah Wright, that it would be hard to brand as anywhere near satisfactory. (Davis was a pornographer and about Wright the less said the better.) No Mitt Romneys there.
If you think this is lost on Barack Obama when he stands opposite Romney, then you think the president is stupid, which he is obviously not. But it’s worse for him yet, because he is standing opposite a father who has worked harder, has more experience, and is more knowledgeable and charitable than he and he, on some level at least, must know it.
Not only that, most of what Mitt Romney has done, including graduating simultaneously from Harvard Law and Harvard Business, is an open book, while almost everything about Obama remains purposefully hidden. (He knows this too, obviously.) Obama lives in fear of exposure—and thus in fear of Romney who, although rich, is much more the self-made man of the two, the ultimate father figure.The face-to-face clash of these two men is almost out of Greek drama. Obama must rage against or embrace the man who represents what he most dearly needed and never had. If this really were Aeschylus or Sophocles, Obama would be caught between those conflicting goals and end up plucking his own eyes out.
But of course it is not. It is something much more quotidian—an American presidential election. And much as we, the Greek chorus, might have pity for Obama, it is ourselves we must pity and therefore reject him.
And that time for rejecting is coming soon. We will soon witness Act II of this play as a debate in a style embarrassingly called a “town hall” (imagine saying that with a straight face in a country of three hundred plus million). Silly as that construct may be and easily prone to manipulation, remember that it will be the same two players, the same archetypes, participating. This time Obama may mask his fear in rage, he may sneer and snarl a lot. But Romney is the same man, the same good father. Trust him. He will prevail.
One commenter added some depth to Simon’s theory pointing out that 58 million Americans voted for this president thinking he was a father figure.
That is a tragedy.