Funny, he doesn't look angry.
For most of the year, Republicans saw polls showing the American mainstream liking President Obama personally, whether they approved of his job performance or not. The GOP line was shaped accordingly -- Obama may be a nice guy, they said, but he's not doing a good job.
That was before. Now, they're trying saying something new.
Mitt Romney is portraying the outwardly calm President Barack Obama as a man seething with animosity and power lust as the Republicans seek to undermine one of the Democrat's greatest campaign strengths -- his personal likability. The president's re-election effort, Romney said Wednesday, "is all about division and attack and hatred." Obama, Romney added later while campaigning in Charlotte, is an angry man who "will do or say anything to get elected."
The attack has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. In Chillicothe, Ohio, Romney said Obama is "angry" and basing his campaign on "anger." In an interview with CBS, Romney said Obama's message is "designed to bring a sense of ... anger." Paul Ryan, Romney's new right-wing running mate, told voters yesterday Obama is running an election "based on anger."
Vague, this is not.
There are a few angles to keep in mind here. The first and arguably most important is the nature of the attack itself -- Romney just spent a week saying he wants a substantive campaign that steers clear of personal attacks, and now he's spending this week avoiding substantive issues and focusing on Obama's "angry" personality. So much for the high road.
Second, I have a very hard time believing this is going to work. Members of Team Romney have conceded the attack is just a ploy to drive down the president's favorability numbers, but are there really voters out there thinking, "Wow, I never noticed how angry Obama seems"? Love him or hate him, the president tends to conduct himself with poise and dignity. Making him out to be some wild-eyed hothead is a tough sell.
And finally, I can only hope Romney's strategy isn't premised on some ugly Angry Black Man archetype. Romney has been dabbling in racial animus lately -- the welfare lie, the talk of the president being "foreign" -- and if this part of a larger effort, it would obviously be disgraceful.