In recent years, a growing trope among Republicans is that the president should be an invisible and detached figure who loathes public appearances — a faraway, disinterested manager with no connection to the popular world who would consider it unseemly to opine on anything (jabs at Democrats excluded, of course).
George Will takes that trope to another level by suggesting candidates should elucidate with all the stuffiness and pomposity of Will himself. Which is totally in step with an electorate that twice elected Barack Obama in a landslide.
It's easy to see Obama's status as a young and effortlessly charismatic leader in influencing this view. John McCain and Mitt Romney likely would have seemed older and flatter next to older and flatter Democrats, but Obama was another force entirely. The GOP has reveled in its rich-angry-white-male base, and repeatedly doubles down on it. At the same time, it knows it can't win elections this way with an ever-changing electorate. Thus the emphasis on "constitutional" issues and its new disdain of "celebrity." Conservatives figure that if they can't hope to keep up on likability, they can at least insist that history's best presidents were all standoffish stoics.
They've come a long way from Ronald Reagan. Thanks, Obama.