The Washington Post

Obama has Romney for lunch

There's something at once hopeful and sad about the picture of President Obama and Mitt Romney in the Oval Office yesterday. Let me take the hopeful first since I'm that kinda guy.

What they talked about over white turkey chili and chicken salad isn't all that important. In this contest of style versus substance, this gathering was all about style. That Obama and his Republican rival came together for lunch says a lot about them as people and as Americans. After a long, expensive, hard-fought, okay, nasty campaign, the president hosted Romney without fear of retribution or a coup. We elect our leaders and those who voted for the opposition never fear that they will be killed or "disappeared." That's the way we do things in the United States. That's why the rest of the world aspires to be like us.

On a human level, it's the placement of Romney in the photo that makes me feel for the guy. Entering the White House gates as a guest must have been pretty tough for the man who was so confident he would win that he only prepared a victory speech. Now look at the picture. Romney looks as much presidential as the man who is actually president. His handshake appears as firm as his look at Obama appears focused. In short, Romney looks confident and comfortable.

And did you notice how tantalizingly close he's standing to the president's desk? If you'd swooped in from Dantooine you'd swear Romney were the president. But rest assured, that's as close as the 2012 Republican nominee will ever get to it.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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