This is a great meme-analysis. It also needs to be read all the way through because, as Greenwald pointed out on Twitter today, Coates doesn’t stay on one track all the way through. I enjoy Coates on the Atlantic site, but it might be time for the Times to grab him as a for-real on-the-page columnist.
The shift Coates describes is one we need to watch all the way through. One reason he’s hitting Romney so hard is the old axiom: by the end of your first term, the voters have a fully formed impression of you. You can’t do much to change that. Your resources are better alllocated to changing voters’ impression of the other guy. Paradoxically, that very effort may change some perceptions of Obama.