Leave it to an old Wayne State guy to cut to the chase.
James Lipton, who's so much more than just the host of Bravo's "Inside the Actors Studio," was on Chris Matthews' MSNBC show last night. And the former Wayne State attendee (he received an honorary doctorate from WSU in 2002) boiled the presidential election down to this.
"The choice is clear," Lipton said. "Do you want a president, or a boss?"
Lipton was asked to give his impressions of the performances of Mitt Romney and President Obama at Tuesday's debate, from the perspective of someone who is very used to critiquing on-screen, on-stage bits.
Lipton felt that Romney was every bit the CEO and Obama every bit the statesman.
"Romney is that boss who tells bad jokes to his employees and waits for everyone to laugh," Lipton said. And, "He's very used to getting his way."
Lipton thought that Romney was less-than-deferential to the president, particularly when Romney told Obama, "You'll get your turn," as he motioned for the president to sit down in the middle of a diatribe.
"This is the President of the United States, being told this by a...civilian," Lipton said, incredulously.
Lipton's bottom line is spot on. Romney does indeed come off as the CEO, talking down to his subjects in a board room. Obama looked like, well, the president---and how a president should look.
Matthews chimed in at one point and said Romney is "like that guy on the plane who won't turn his cell phone off after the stewardess tells him to."
Again, spot on.
Lipton said it again. "Do you want to be governed by a statesman, or supervised by a boss?"
Wayne State University's own James Lipton
Romney's lack of statesmanship was supremely evident in the exchange during Tuesday's debate about the tragic loss of diplomats in Libya on September 11. The former Massachusetts governor drew Obama's ire, as the president both scolded Romney and took offense to the suggestion that the administration's response to the attacks in Libya was political in nature.
"That's not what we do," Obama said, glaring at Romney in the eyes. "It's not what I do as commander-in-chief."
It was Obama's "I'm the president and you're not" moment.
It got worse, as Romney pressed the issue, claiming that Obama didn't call the attacks a terrorist act until two weeks later. That blew up in his face when moderator Candy Crowley noted that the president did, indeed, call the attacks an act of terror the day after they occurred.
Romney tried to bully the president and Crowley, and just as he's done in previous debates, the governor barked out his own interpretation of the rules.
"He got the last word on that one so I get the last word on this one," Romney said early on as he apparently was not only debate participant but also the rules sheriff.
"It doesn't quite work that way," Crowley said.
Not that it matters.
Debate score: 1-1, with one more remaining next Monday.
But Lipton was dead on accurate in his assessment.
President, or Boss?