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I called upon 1600B Pennsylvania Avenue just after dawn, and was enjoying a bite of toast and coffee when Mr. Barack Obama came into the room.

"Ah, Biden," he said, walking briskly across the eagle at the center of the carpet. "Here. See what you make of this."

I took the folded paper from his outstretched had and began to read.

Ross Douthat

What Romney executed on Wednesday night was not just a simple pivot to the center ... what he did was clarify, elevate and translate. He clarified what kind of tax reformer he would be, by promising that revenue neutrality would take priority over sweeping cuts for the rich — a premise that plenty of Republicans are already happy to accept. ... And he translated the basic free-market vision to a nonideological audience, by talking more about decent jobs than heroic job creators, and more about the struggling middle class than about the supposedly persecuted John Galts.
I stared at the words and scowled. "But Obama," I said. "Romney has never expressed any concern for the middle class, and neither has this Douthat fellow."

"Precisely," said Obama.  "In fact, Mr. Romney's opinions are well known to fall firmly in line with this sentiment." With this he indicated the next item on the creased sheet of newsprint.

Kevin Baker

The Republican Party is, more than ever before in its history, an anti-urban party, its support gleaned overwhelmingly from suburban and rural districts — especially in presidential elections. ... For Republicans, cities became object lessons on the shortcomings of activist government and the welfare state — sinkholes of crime and social dysfunction, where Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” cavorted in their Cadillacs. ...

The national Republican Party still can’t get seem to get past its animus toward the very idea of urban life. The only place that Amtrak turns a profit is the Northeast corridor — yet all Republicans can think to do is privatize it, along with the local rail lines on which millions of Americans have been commuting into cities to work for as long as a century and a half. Republicans promise to ban same-sex marriage, make it easier for anyone to get a gun, delegitimize and destroy what they mockingly call “public employees’ unions,” and deport the immigrant workers performing so many thankless but vital tasks.

In short, they promise to rip and tear at the immensely complex fabric of city life while sneering at the entire “urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” There is a terrible arrogance here that has ramifications well beyond the Republicans’ electoral prospects.

Scanning the page, I found myself nodding in agreement. "Yes, that certainly fits the Republican Party I know. Dismissive of most Americans, working to benefit only a few."

Obama folded his hands behind his back and stared at the rain splattered window.  "And yet the man I shared a stage with this week professed none of those positions. How are we to reconcile this, Biden?" A frown creased his strong features, and as it did I peered down at the words of

Thomas Friedman

Maybe we should have seen this coming. For weeks, Romney had performed so badly and had fallen so far behind in swing states that if this campaign were a Ryder Cup singles match, you’d have said the president felt he had the match in the bag with just a few holes left to play. So he did the worst thing you can do in match play golf: he started playing not to lose. He continued with an uninspired, vague and cautious campaign and just waited for Romney to keep hitting balls out of bounds. Romney, his back to the wall, had no choice but to start aggressively playing to win.
"Good lord," I exclaimed. "What a supercilious asshole."

Obama broke into a grin as he turned back to me. "Reading Friedman, are you? Well, Biden, there are some things that never change.  But see here..."  He took another paper from his desk and passed it across to me.

"Parker?" I asked, shaking my head. "But I thought she didn't agree with Romney."

"She doesn't. She never has."  He took the paper back sand strolled across the floor more slowly. "Think on this, Biden.  Willard Romney has spent months, even years, building up the story that he is a 'severe conservative'.  He opposes improving health care, wants massive tax cuts for the rich, and desires little more than to decimate the programs that middle class Americans most favor." Obama's pacing had brought him once again close to the window. He stared out, past his own reflection, into the gloom of the day.  "And yet conservatives have done nothing but proclaim that Romney must move ever further to the right."

"Well, yes. Of course.

"But the man who I met the other night took positions exactly the opposite. He disavowed every belief conservatives hold dear."

Suddenly, I felt cold fingers run along my spine. "You can't mean... Someone has kidnapped Romney and substituted a reasonable man!"

Obama waved a dismissive hand. "Of course not. Mitt Romney is simply a serial liar, willing to say whatever he thinks people want to hear at that moment. In that, he is absolutely consistent. We've learned nothing about Romney we didn't already know."

I frowned again in confusion. "But then, Obama, where is the mystery?"

"The mystery, my good Biden, is in the reaction of conservative Republicans." He gave the page in his hand a shake. "You see, despite all the claims about the importance of their positions, conservatives were willing to renounce their beliefs in a trice when it appeared they might gain advantage." With a quick flip of his wrist, Obama sent the folded page spinning across the room where It landed quite neatly in a bin. "It's not Romney that revealed himself as having no positions worth noting -- that much we knew already.  It's the Republican Party that went missing on that stage."

It's not exactly a seven-percent solution... It's more like a whole series of equations hiding in this playful video by Vi Hart

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 09:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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