I listen to the pundits. I ignore many of them, but the reason I do so is because so many are merely servants of an agenda, having abandoned the truth. I realize no commentator can be right every time, but it’s easier to be correct in one’s judgments if one cares even slightly about facts, rather than pushing an agenda. I’m a conservative, so of course, I tend to see things through the lens of conservatism, and what that means is that I sometimes err like anybody else in media who offers an opinion, because occasionally, I let my wishes come between me and the facts. I’ve been wrong about some things, and bluntly, I will be wrong about some more, but there are a few things about which I hope to be wrong, while being virtually certain that I am right. This is one of those cases: Even if conservatives manage to drag Mitt Romney across the finish line first, his presidency would be remarkable only in its mediocrity, but more importantly, I do not believe Romney can win since he is conducting the campaign of a man running for dog-catcher, rather than for the office of the President of the United States.
If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know how the local elections there frequently go. They can sometimes become aggressive affairs, but more often, the candidates are only vaguely partisan, and mostly non-ideological because it’s generally more important to accommodate a larger proportion of the populace and thus ensure election than to take on difficult issues or matters that may have no direct bearing on the office. This is the campaign Mitt Romney is attempting to run, and he’s staying well away from issues and topics that could alienate this group or that, but that have no direct bearing on the immediate job of being President. The problem with this approach is not that it can’t work, but that it’s made for a different level of politics. The presidency is an office that ultimately deals with virtually every issue in one way or another, and since the President lives in a virtual fishbowl of news coverage, there’s almost nothing a president can say that isn’t examined, folded, spindled and mutilated as people look for deeper meanings, but because of this, a President must be aware of virtually every issue, particularly those that are “hot” in current coverage, because the press is apt to ask about them at some point.
The other significant difference is that when you’re running for dog-catcher in AnyTown, USA, you’re not expected to take a position on global warming, or to wax philosophic on the notion of manned space flight. They want to know if you’ll catch dogs, and why you’ll be better at it than the other guy, but there’s no real need to get into deep philosophical discussions about it. You’re expected to shut up and catch dogs. As President, a whole nation, and indeed, a whole world looks to you to stake out a position, and they expect you to do it in a timely fashion, when your position might hold some sway. When Barack Obama said nothing about the uprising in Iran until Iranian dissidents had begun to be slaughtered, part of the reason for Iran’s slightly delayed oppression was undoubtedly due to their waiting to see what the new American President might say. When it was clear he’d say nothing, and do nothing to bring down international heat on the regime, they felt secure to begin reprisals.
In much the same way, Mitt Romney has held his tongue on far too many issues, passing up opportunities to make greater philosophical points during the course of the campaign. He never failed to hammer away at his Republican opponents, but now that he’s facing Obama, it seems as though he’s gone weak in the knees. True, he has had his moments, but the problem is that’s all they’ve been: Fleeting, stillborn interjections of passion that only hinted at a deeper conviction on any subject. The American people expect more, and they fully expect that their President will stake out positions that are more substantially ideological than most pundits admit. It’s not “red meat” as so many condescending commentators contend, but instead that people want to hear the ideological consistency that takes one the full distance from A to Z. This is what Mitt Romney has lacked, and it’s going to hurt him come November, whatever the Republican pundits may say to the contrary. In short, the American people are waiting for Romney to make a solid, irrefutable case, and it must be about more than economics and statistics.
Most of the American people are not fools, and they know there is more broken with the country than what a litany of economic statistics will reveal. They know there is a moral crisis, but many of them are unsure about how to characterize that crisis, or to explain with any precision how it is to be addressed. They don’t know where or how to begin, and the problem has become so great that they have no confidence in politicians to fix it, and given the average of this crop of politicians with which we’ve been cursed, it’s easy to understand their misgivings. Mitt Romney, or indeed any candidate who would seek to oust Barack Obama must be willing to say what it is about Obama’s policies that is hurting the country, but also explain the philosophy that gave rise to those policies, comprising their central motive.
This is the problem with Mitt Romney’s line about Obama being “in over his head.” That is a vague expression that barely scratches the surface of the problem with Barack Obama. If only it were a matter of incompetence, it would be easier to retire him to Chicago next January, but he’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s infinitely worse, and he’s worse precisely because while Carter was a mix of nine parts of incompetence and one part malice, Barack Obama’s philosophy and the policies it spawns are 100% pure malevolence. When you are faced with a killer wielding a gun in random bursts of violence, you do not rally people to oppose him by claiming he had been merely incompetent to bear arms. You must tell the people the truth, and that truth is that “this guy is going to kill you, or as many of you as he is able, if you don’t take him down.” When faced with a killer, moral equivocation is not only a terrible strategy, but a lethal capitulation.
Barack Obama’s policies are killing America, and there is every evidence that it is being done with malice aforethought. That Mitt Romney continues to conduct his campaign solely on the basis that he’ll be better at catching dogs is an admission that he’s really not willing to fight for the country, and the reason for this can only be that he’s incapable or unwilling. Which of these do we expect will be acceptable to the great body of the American electorate? If Mitt Romney does not learn to make the case and make it unflinchingly, he is going to lose this election, and we will be faced with the ghastly proposition of four years of unparalleled malice directed at the American people. This is not the time for tepid leadership, and but for those rare moments, that’s all Governor Romney has offered. If he’s to defeat Barack Obama, he cannot do so by default. He must challenge the moral basis of Barack Obama’s philosophy, but since Romney will not even name it, I do not see how victory will be possible. After all, if he will not name it, how can the American people be expected to take him seriously, or to understand by hints what case Mitt Romney is trying to make?
Romney lives in fear of bad press and ridicule in establishment media, but if he’s to stand any chance of winning, he can no longer afford to mince words by way of “playing it safe.” Otherwise, he stands the chance of appearing afraid to make his case openly, and Americans will begin to wonder why. The old saying is “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and if Mitt Romney doesn’t begin to venture outside his safe zone soon, this race will be over. You’d think a capitalist would know that.
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