Obama's 2012 message: He's the reasonable adult in the room

One of President Barack Obama’s 2012 themes will likely revolve around what his aides call “the contrast” — a portrayal of Obama as a responsible, moderate adult harassed by infantile Republicans who favor the wealthy…

Another GOP aide was more blunt. “It’s counterproductive schoolyard crap. … [It’s] awfully childish for the ‘adult in the room,’” the aide told POLITICO.

But in the risk-vs.-reward calculator that is Obama’s brain, the possible short-term blowback on the debt ceiling is well worth the long-term gain of political leverage. The president’s message wasn’t aimed at Capitol Hill as much as toward a wider audience in hopes of gaining leverage over Republican debt negotiators and, eventually, the GOP presidential candidates using him as a punching bag.