You may have noticed two recurring themes from the recent Obama vs Romney campaign. First: the issues. By the end of the exhausting process there didn't appear to be any space between the two candidates as Romney pivoted from 'severe conservative' to moderate maven thus defining his role as the great shape-shifter or as his campaign manager called it: the etch-a-sketch strategy - which they borrowed from John Kerry's losing 2004 race with its chart-busting concept: "I was for it before I was against it."
President Obama's pitch was decidedly opaque. "Forward" is directionally correct but not linked to any specific locality. It probably sounded better than "more of the same."
It was the other theme that was the real sell for both candidates and it was very personal: "HE'S NOT ONE OF US." Obama is a foreigner, a socialist and a secret Muslim whose middle name is Hussein. Romney is an out-of-touch trillionaire whose wife does something odd with horses called dressage and whose real name is Willard. Willard, you cult-film fans may remember, was a social misfit with a strange affinity for rats. This Willard wisely calls himself Mitt - not a nickname but his real middle name.
We like our presidents to be one of us, a regular person who drinks Bud Light and knows who Taylor Swift is. But the reality is, that's just the packaging. We really want a person who's NOTHING like a normal human. We want a rhino-skinned candidate who has the mind, the temperament, the persistence and skills to run a country of 300 million plus independent- minded folks under the withering scrutiny of a 24/7 media. That's one tough casting call.
We tend to denigrate politicians as one layer below toupee-wearing carnival barkers. But politics is the necessary business of governing in a democracy. It ain't tiddlywinks. It requires a special breed who can endure vicious personal attacks, collect van loads of money, be on the road for months on end, away from family, smiling and shaking hands till it hurts, and all the while looking like they're thriving during the whole untidy process. And if you're in Congress -- you get to do it every two years. Can you do that?
No, presidential candidates are definitely NOT one of us regular folk. And isn't that a good thing.