In my column for the National Post, I explain why the election is starting to focus on the biographies of Romney and Obama, and not the issues:
Barack Obama is foreign. Oh yeah? Mitt Romney is a bully.
Think the U.S. presidential election will be about the economy? Think again.
On the economy, both presidential candidates are marked with indelible vulnerabilities.
President Obama first. He inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. He has presided over a weak and fitful recovery.
During the recession of 2008-09, the U.S. lost more than 8 million jobs, net. Since 2009, the U.S. has gained only about 4.5 million jobs, net. Yes, the unemployment rate has improved somewhat since January 2009 - but largely because so many people have quit searching for work. Among Americans of prime working age - 16 to 54 - the percentage in work today is the lowest since 1983, near the very beginning of the mass entry of married women into the workforce.
So Obama cannot run a "morning in America" campaign for recovery. Too many Americans are still shrouded in the pre-dawn murk.
Yet challenger Mitt Romney finds himself not much better positioned than incumbent Barack Obama.
His own job-creation record as governor of Massachusetts was not especially impressive. As a CEO, he was better known for downsizing purchased companies, than for new hiring. And he has been pressed by his party to campaign on a platform that emphasizes radical spending cuts for the young and the poor and another big round of upper-income tax cuts on top of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.
No wonder that both campaigns are looking for something else to talk about.