February 9, 2012

IT'S JUST ABOUT WHICH PARTY GETS CREDIT FOR THE PEACE DIVIDEND:

Obama and Romney exhibit striking similarities (Ruth Marcus, 2/09/12, Washington Post)

"From early childhood, he formed his views through observation and analysis, by hanging back as the world unfolded before him," Michael Kranish and Scott Helman write in "The Real ­Romney."

David Maraniss, whose biography, "Barack Obama: The Story," will be published in June, describes the president in similar terms. Much like his mother, "Obama is an anthropologist -- a participant/observer," Maraniss, a Post associate editor, told me.

Both Obama and Romney exude cool detachment, even insularity, as The New Republic's Timothy Noah demonstrated with an array of indistinguishable snippets from "The Real Romney" and Jodi Kantor's "The Obamas." They are not party animals, in either sense of that phrase -- neither extroverted socializers nor partisan champions.

Both men lack the typical politician's craving for external approval and validation. They exhibit a disdain for the ordinary obligations of political life, whether endlessly posing for photos (Obama) or robotically delivering a stump speech (Romney).

"It is the opinion of some of Romney's friends," Benjamin Wallace-Wells wrote in New York magazine, "that the repetitive business of campaigning simply bores him and that this boredom is responsible for the fairly sizable gap between the charismatic man they know in private and the battery-powered figure who often appears in public."

Obama, likewise, deems himself above the meet-and-greet aspect of politics. The president, Kantor wrote, "hated to waste time, and . . . schmoozing -- like making emotional speeches -- was another part of politics he seemed to have decided was mostly fake."

Indeed, Obama and Romney are less back-slappers than ­report-readers, technocratic elitists with an abiding faith in the meritocracy. Confronted with a problem, their instincts are to assemble the experts and split the difference.

It is no accident, then, that their health care programs share the distinguishing -- perhaps politically disqualifying -- feature of requiring individuals to obtain coverage.

Posted by at February 9, 2012 6:49 AM
  

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