"What Kind of Inside Job is He Talking About?"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 21 2012 1:12 PM

"What Kind of Inside Job is He Talking About?"

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- The president gave a fairly rote, focus-group-approved speech to a sizable Virginia crowd. Woodbridge, one of northern Virginia's more racially diverse suburbs, produced a crowd that filled half a minor league baseball diamond. But there wasn't much energy for the president to feed off. Applause lines were stated, then it was on to new applause lines.

The crowd only came crackling to life when Obama, grinning, engaged Mitt Romney's latest attempt to turn the news cycle onto a "gaffe." He set it up by reminding everyone that he credits them, not himself, with progress -- "you are the change," and so on. Ah, but then came Mitt Romney.

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"For some reason, my opponent got really excited," Obama said. He started miming the act of a silly person marking up text with a pen. ""He rewrote his speech, proudly declared 'I'll get the job done from the inside!" Pause. "What kind of inside job is he talking about!"

Then, onto a new laundry list. But the little dose of contempt went over like a T-shirt cannon.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.