Pete Spiliakos has been complaining about Romney’s performance at the Republican convention and about the lack of definition and specification of policy in convention speakers as a whole . It didn’t bother me. I figured that the next week and all through the fall, Romney, Ryan and friends would pound the republican Republican message. Apparently they are not going to do that. I begin to wonder if they will actually engage with reality in the debates, or if all will be soft-focused, smudged lens imagery about Republican intentions. What are they going to do? I am of the faithful and I am no longer sure what they are going to do. I thought the choice of Paul Ryan meant a bold turn. Why take him on if policy talk, which he does so well, was not going to define the campaign going forward?
Kin Strassel today in “Mr. Romney, Trust Your Pants” says that Mr. Romney is slipping in the polls because he will not articulate his intentions.
As for how he would create “more jobs” and “higher income,” Mr. Romney wasn’t saying. His references to his “tax policy” served mainly to explain what it doesn’t do. He vowed to replace ObamaCare with his “own plan”—which is? He explained he had “big policy differences” with the president on Afghanistan. Those differences are “important.” So important that he moved to the next question.
Credit for this fog goes to that inner circle of Romney advisers who never liked the Ryan pick and have reasserted their will over a candidate who is naturally cautious. In the la-la land where adviser Stuart Stevens presides, Mr. Romney wins by never saying a single thing, ever, that might rock a single boat, ever. Just keep the focus on Mr. Obama. After all, no president has ever won with an economy like this.
And it is not working. As awful as everything is, Mr. Obama is up in the polls. How can that be? I suppose there are many reasons, but among them is that when everything is awful, America, conservatively, will not change leadership unless it sees more strength in the new guy than in the old guy. That’s the Carter/Reagan equation. It had been the Ford/Carter equation, as well, and Americans were even more upset at Carter because he had seemed to fool them into thinking he was what he was not.
Here we are with Romney/Obama and if Romney either is not the strong character we want or will not express his strength, then he will not be a good choice for the American people. That seems simple. Demonstrating strong character may not be simple. Especially if you haven’t got one. I hope Mr. Romney does, but he is not demonstrating it effectively if that is true. He does have policies. He could showcase those. I don’t understand why he doesn’t. “The tragedy is that Mr. Romney isn’t a blank; he has a hearty reform agenda. Yet his decision to go “safe”—to be Crouching Romney, Hidden Mitt—keeps him from harnessing the American hunger for political change.” Maybe that is just a political decision, but I begin to worry that is pusillanimity.
Mind, I think Mr. Obama has fully demonstrated that he is weak in character, as well. I cannot stand his political principles or policies either. Yet, I think I would rather have a weak character in office who I am free to loathe than have one I am forced to defend. I’ve been through that recently enough and I didn’t like many of that Republican’s policies, either, as they seemed to abrogate his stated principles. I get it when men say they don’t want to see that again. Expressing solid policies should be easy; Mr. Romney can just ask his vice-presidential running mate how it is done if he is not sure. “Americans respond well to A-B-C explanations of valuable reform. (Here is what is wrong. Here is my policy to fix it. Here is how it works, with three examples. Here is the good that comes of it.) Were Mr. Romney to apply this formula to health care, entitlements, food stamps and college loans, he’d be winning.” He would, too, because there are, or ought to be, clear differences between the way those problems have been handled and the effective and efficient way they could be handled. Americans are divided on what those answers are, but that”s politics. A case can be made and that is what people want and need to hear to believe a candidate strong.
That’s why I didn’t have a problem with Mr. Romney speaking out this week, saying what he thought we ought to do about Libya and attacks on our embassies. I agree with Ms. Strassel here as well,
The press embarrassed itself this week by flaying Mr. Romney’s criticism of the State Department while giving a pass to the policies of a president who, after announcing the death of four diplomats, flew to a campaign event in Las Vegas. The press doesn’t care. Its goal was to let Mr. Romney know what’s in store for him should he consider mounting more than a mediocre campaign. If he gets spooked by that, he’s done.
Character counts, like culture counts, Mr. Romney. If we don’t take such things seriously or cannot take them seriously, then America is in trouble. We don’t want to put ourselves in a position of having a strong country in the world with a weak man in charge of its management. If Mr. Romney is a man of strong character, he’d better let us know and let us believe it. He cannot just tell us or have his wife tell us or have his friends tell us. We have to see it. If he doesn’t have such a character or cannot show it, then we’d be better off with four more years of loathsome leadership that we are free to despise and resist.