“Mah-velous” Mitt vs. “Out of Touch” Obama
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a joke is just a joke, but what was the president really saying Tuesday afternoon when he made a joke about Mitt Romney?
And what did Romney mean Tuesday night when he took his wife's (metaphorical) advice to "unzip" and "let the real Mitt Romney out"?
Barack Obama was making a major speech at the Associated Press annual luncheon, and he knew his every word would be examined, especially if one of those words was "Romney," a name he rarely utters in public.
"One of my potential opponents, Gov. Romney," Obama said, "said that he's 'very supportive' of this new (Republican) budget, and he even called it 'marvelous' — which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget."
The editors at the AP luncheon laughed. But Obama, who has excellent comic timing, was saving the real punch line.
"It's a word you don't often hear generally ," Obama said.
The crowd hooted. Who could fail to remember Billy Crystal's line, "you look mah-velous, darling!"? Yeah, that Mitt probably goes around saying how he knows a bunch of mah-velous NFL owners and mah-velous NASCAR owners and how his wife has mah-velous bicoastal Cadillacs and how he once he imprisoned his mah-velous dog atop his mah-velous car.
Teddy Roosevelt, it should be noted, did go around saying "bully" a lot. But maybe that sounded manly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
But what was the president saying about Mah-velous Mitt?
I think he was saying Romney was the kind of guy who uses wimpy words, a man insulated from the rough and tumble of real life and out of touch with real Americans due to his vast wealth.
But after Romney won three more primaries Tuesday night, he characterized Obama as out of touch, not due to wealth, but due to an out-of-control ego.
"President Obama thinks he's doing a good job. No, I'm not kidding. He actually thinks he's doing a great job," Romney said. "According to the president, only Lincoln, FDR and Lyndon Johnson have accomplished more. And no, he didn't say that on 'Saturday Night Live.'
"It's enough to make you think that years of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you what a great job you are doing, well, that might be enough to make you a little out of touch."
Along with the punches and punch lines, however, the two do have serious and competing visions of America.
As Obama said Tuesday: "Can we succeed as a country where a shrinking number of people do exceedingly well, while a growing number struggle to get by? Or are we better off when everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules?"
As Romney said Tuesday: "I don't want to transform America; I want to restore the values of economic freedom and opportunity and limited government that have made this nation the leader it is."
Obama said Tuesday: "We've sought to ensure that every citizen can count on some basic measure of security.
Romney said Tuesday: "Free enterprise has done more to lift people out of poverty, to help build a strong middle class, to help educate our kids and to make our lives better than all of the government programs put together. ... Many Americans have given up on this president, but they haven't ever thought about giving up."
After Obama finished his speech to the AP, the first question he got was, "What can you say to the Americans who just want both sides to stop fighting and get some work done on their behalf?"
In answering, Obama invoked the most revered name in modern Republican politics.
"Ronald Reagan, who, as I recall, is not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist," Obama said, "understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control, that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases. Did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today."
That last line began a lot of news stories. And so did Obama's tone.
Bret Baier of Fox News said Obama's speech "sets the stage for a vitriolic debate."
The Associated Press characterized Obama as "combative" and "stinging."
And Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus said, "The president's speeches are becoming somewhat of a 'Saturday Night Live' skit."
So "Saturday Night Live" got a lot of shout-outs Tuesday.
It is an open question, however, whether its satire will match the zip of the real campaign.
To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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