David Frum

10.11.12

Is the Etch-a-Mitt Working?

Seems like it might be.

Inside Mitt Romney’s campaign headquarters over the past few days, the data pouring in was unmistakable. Aides scouring the results of focus groups and national polls found that undecided voters watching the presidential debate in Denver seemed startled when the Republican candidate portrayed all year by Democrats — the ultraconservative, unfeeling capitalist — did not materialize.

The voters, they discovered, consistently reserved their highest marks for moments when Mr. Romney sounded bipartisan and moderate, two themes he has long played down on the campaign trail but seemed to take pains to showcase this week with centrist-sounding statements on taxes, abortion and immigration.

How stunning that low information voters would essentially be tabula rasa as late as October, am I right? (The stupidity of fetishizing the attention of people who have minimal interest in the political process is for another time and place, but really...)

But then again, it's not like Romney's opponent is putting on a fine display of looking serious and presidential. As someone who enthusiastically supported the President in 2008, it's saddening to see his pitch for re-election distilled to defending the sanctity of... Big Bird:

Video screenshot

If the President's best response to Etch-a-Mitt is: "You're a liar" or "I'll save Big Bird," he's probably better suited for a nice retirement than confronting the issues our nation faces in the coming term. I neither know the president personally nor possess the power to read his mind, so I won't speak for him.

But I feel free to say he's made a fool of himself over the last 8 days. Not the best time for an implosion, Mr. President.