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The Grown-ups and the Grade-schoolers

October 22, 2012

Through the first two debates in this presidential election, America is seeing a stark difference between the Republican and Democrat tickets. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are grownups. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are grade-schoolers. This was what the evidence before the debates suggested.

Mitt Romney is the only one of the four to make a payroll or to build his career in the private sector. Businessmen have to behave seriously and assume responsibility for their actions. Romney has not only done that in his business life, but when Romney unraveled the unsavory machinations of the 2002 Winter Olympics, sobriety and integrity were indispensable. In every aspect of his life – his business career, his family life, his faith and his presidential candidacies – Romney has acted like a grown-up.

Paul Ryan, who had to grow up very early because of personal tragedy in his life, gained support from conservatives over more well-known politicians from larger states precisely because he put together a serious budget. Ryan not only mastered the details of the budget but he also was able to persuade through plain talk the House Majority Caucus to accept the budget.

This attitude of maturity and responsibility showed up in the debates. Romney made eye contact, which is doubtless what he would have done in business negotiations or in the tough talk that he would have had to lay out ten years ago in the Winter Olympics. Romney was assertive without being aggressive. He was polite but firm. Romney was a grown-up.

Obama was faulted for being hesitant, not making eye contact, blathering bromides instead of saying anything substantial. These are all fair assessments, but there lurked behind these debating problems a more serious psychological problem: Obama is an immature grade-schooler. Obama is desperately seeking the adulation which somehow makes him whole, but the genuine respect which underpins leadership eludes him because the high of fleeting popularity is all he truly grasps.

Obama has quite deliberately chosen to dwell within those enclaves of adult childishness which draw leftists like magnets: academia and politics. Listen to Obama talk to his fun club: what comes out of his mouth except snarky jokes, rehashed slogans and self-righteous affirmations of his own nobility? He acts every bit the insecure eight-year-old who must impress everyone around him.

The same pattern appeared in the vice presidential debate. Paul Ryan listened to what Biden had to say. He made notes. Ryan recited specific numbers. He obviously had prepared to discuss a wide variety of issues. Though Paul Ryan is a young and very fit husband and father, in the vice presidential debate Ryan seemed very much a grown-up.

The contrast between the thoughtful Ryan and the goofy Biden could hardly have been starker. Joe Biden behaved like the class clown, the fourth grader who makes faces when the other students are reading their book reports, the kid in the playground who wants to see how obnoxious he can be without starting a fight, the immature tyke who cannot discern when his behavior is endearingly cute or just downright weird.

It is not only difficult to see how Obama and Biden could craft a bipartisan compromise on the debt or Mideast policy or energy independence, it is virtually inconceivable that either man would want a bipartisan and rational solution to any of our nation’s most pressing problems. These are not men who listen when others talk.

Like other grade-schoolers, Obama and Biden thrive on attention, even on notoriety. They are not in politics to solve problems – indeed, the persistence of problems gives them the audience which their egos crave like an addict craves heroin – they are in politics to impress their classmates and to make themselves feel more important than they are.

Were our nation not at a fiscal precipice, was Europe not on the verge of descending into chaos, were the world not threatened with Islamists who hate America and lust for nuclear weapons, was China not rising as an amoral hegemon in Asia, then perhaps our nation could tolerate four more years of grade school boys running the White House.

But the situation, in some many areas, is very grave today. It is time to send the grade school boys to recess and to bring in the grown-ups.

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Copyright ©2012 Bruce Walker

Bruce Walker is a long-time conservative writer whose work is published regularly at popular conservative sites such as American Thinker.