If you missed President Obama on the Late Show last night, here he is:
The line that’s getting a lot of attention is Obama’s reminder that the president represents everyone, a line he had to deliver that’s the obvious rejoinder to Mitt Romney’s nasty, condescending remarks about ignoring the 47 percent of people who will never vote for him. And that’s a line that Obama probably had to deliver. But I think the real power of this appearance is that it reveals how that video gives Obama the tool he needs to connect all the themes of his campaign, and to draw a final, and perhaps deadly, comparison with Mitt Romney.
“The American people, they work so hard,” Obama told David Letterman. “The progress we’ve made since the Great Recession is because we’ve got single moms out there working two, three jobs to help make sure their kids can go to college. And we’ve got small business owners who are keeping their doors open and keeping their employees on even though it means they may not be taking down a salary.”
In other words, we all built that. The hope that we placed in Obama, as he said in his convention speech, he placed in us. And that hope, as Obama described it, is a pact. It’s an agreement between the people who are building their lives with everything they’ve got that if a step in that process fails, or the business plan they built to get themselves from one class stratum from another, from a limited array of options to a richer one, fails, that there will be something there to help them regroup and formulate the next plan.
Mitt Romney hates being called entitled or privileged, so much so that in the video Mother Jones uncovered, he insisted “I have inherited nothing…There is a perception, ‘Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth.’” He seems to have forgotten that people who received decidedly more modest assistance from the government rather than stock portfolios from their fathers don’t like being called the inverse of privileged: lazy and selfish. “There are not a lot of people out there who think they’re victims,” Obama said on Late Night. “There are not a lot of people who think they’re entitled to something.” If Obama’s team plays this right, Romney may get a reminder that he and the people he scrambled to dismiss and distance himself from have something in common. It’s not only Mitt Romney who isn’t defined by the help he got along the way, no matter the source.