Obama vs Romney: How Mitt Romney Will Co Opt Bill Clinton Impatient Remark


In Wisconsin, former President Clinton said that the only reason the presidential election is even a race is because Americans are impatient with the economy. This is not a gaffe; it is a statement of fact. Americans are unsatisfied with the economy, we don't think it's recovering fast enough, and we want it to be stronger. 

The slow recovery is a major part of why the presidential race is so close. What Clinton said is not a gaffe in that it will hurt Americans' feelings for being called impatient. It's a gaffe in that it is an easy line for President Obama's Republican challenger Mitt Romney to co-opt and utilize.

It should and will be easy for Romney to re-frame Clinton's line. All he has to do is replace of the idea of Americans being unreasonably impatient with being justifiably impatient. It is all too easy to tell people they are justified; it is a lot harder to tell people they are not. But that is the challenge Clinton has set up. Now Romney can say, “I know how you feel, and I can help fix it” a short and sweet message, while Obama must say the much more nuanced message of “I know how you feel and I can fix it, but things are actually getting better, trust me. The crisis was complicated and huge though so it's going to take a lot of time to totally fix it but don't be impatient. If we want to fix this the right way it's going to take time.” Considering how impatient Americans are Obama's message is likely to get tuned out halfway through.

But the “impatient” label is one Democrats are probably very willing to stick on Romney. He will surely be cast as an impatient blowhard when it comes to foreign policy in the next presidential debate. But disparaging the electorate is another issue entirely. While it isn't as damning as dismissing 47% of the electorate right off the bat it does put across a holier-than-thou attitude that is likely to peeve voters. Whether voters are willing to vote for the other guy just because they are peeved is unlikely.

While the “impatient” remark is not a game-changer in any respects it does allow Romney to say that Democrats just don't understand how much the economy is hurting regular families. He will use it to highlight a disconnect between Obama and the feelings of the populace. While building a straw man of the president it seems the Romney camp can add Clinton's loose lips to Obama's tin ear.