Walter Kirn spins a fun barstool theory:

The problem with treating politics as stagecraft, particularly this year, is that it mistakes the production for the play and confuses theater with drama. Theater is shallow, drama deep. And it’s at the dramatic level that this campaign is singularly engrossing. Down in the catacombs of the group unconscious where elections really occur, where the spotlights don’t reach, and where the polls can barely penetrate, a mythological struggle is unfolding between two profoundly different archetypal figures: a lost boy who knew his father largely in dreams and grew up bedeviled by questions of identity, and a favorite son whose father’s support freed him from having to question much of anything. Barack Obama, a lonely meritocratic floater whose searcher parents met while on the drift and then wafted off in separate directions, fashioned a self from thin air; while Mitt Romney, from a family of pioneers who’d safely reached the promised land, hit the ground already in position.

Not since John F. Kennedy faced Richard Nixon, a golden boy pitted against a five o’clock shadow, has U.S. presidential politics united such constitutionally different beings. One man is singularly literate, the other exceptionally numerate. One educated himself by reading books, the other by scrutinizing balance sheets. They’re further divided by what they have in common. Both are outsiders, heirs to persecution, one because of the color of his skin, one because of the nature of his faith. (And both are descended, strangely, from polygamists.) Both have an overdeveloped sense of duty, one because he came from nothing much, the other because he was born with everything.

One reason their rivalry may try our patience is that the candidates speak such different languages that they seem to be talking past each other, like separate halves of one lobotomized brain. …