- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2012

The latest headline in the 2012 race is that President Obama hates Mitt Romney. The subtext of the story is that the president is in fact afraid of his challenger.

According to Politico’s Glenn Thrush in his new campaign e-book, “Obama’s Last Stand,” Mr. Obama “began campaign preparations feeling neutral about Romney,” which “made the 2012 grind bearable and at times even fun.” However, he “quickly developed a genuine disdain” for Mr. Romney, which “stoked Obama’s competitive fire, got his head in the game.” Thus, “hope and change” transformed into hatred and rage.

The roots of Mr. Obama’s wrath aren’t ideological. According to another unnamed source, he “didn’t even feel this strongly about conservative, combative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Hill Republican he disliked the most” because “at least Cantor stood for something.” Put another way, Mr. Obama despises Mr. Romney for having a quality that most Americans say they would like to see in a president: the ability to rise above dogmatism and forge compromises. Mr. Obama has shown himself to be completely unable to exercise that kind of leadership.

This centrist image conflicts with the Democrats’ fanciful campaign storyline that Mr. Romney is captive of a Republican Party that has become so radical that even Ronald Reagan would be a moderate by comparison. Yet the GOP rejected more traditionally conservative candidates in favor of the former governor of liberal Massachusetts, which is hardly evidence of Republican extremism. It shows that the elephants have a bigger tent than the Democratic Party, which these days chiefly represents left-wing activists, public-sector unions, welfare recipients and others who depend on big government and an increasing flow of government handouts. Their radical interests are what Mr. Obama stands for.

It’s hard to picture Mr. Romney hating anyone. He has a well-earned “good guy” image that frustrates some of his supporters who think he should be tougher. There is a difference, however, between coming across as tough and being perceived as mean. Mr. Obama’s natural coolness more easily translates into a sense of aloofness and disdain. Angry-man Obama will turn off moderate voters already disappointed in his inability to heal the partisan breach as he promised in 2008.

Mr. Thrush’s sources also allege that Mr. Obama respected his 2008 opponent, Sen. John McCain, because of his service record. According to an unnamed senior Obama adviser, “That doesn’t hold true for Romney. He was no [blasphemy deleted] war hero.” It is hard to take that premise seriously. No one with Mr. Obama’s sterling leftist, countercultural credentials would have a high degree of respect for a combat veteran, especially someone who fought in the Vietnam War, which liberals have always disdained as an immoral undertaking.

If Mr. Obama didn’t hate Mr. McCain, it was because he knew that he could defeat the Arizonan. The same is not true of Mr. Romney. Mr. Obama’s burning animosity stems from a stiff sense of insecurity. The president detests Mr. Romney because he fears him — and he fears him because he knows Mr. Romney can win.

The Washington Times