Posts Tagged ‘Romney’

The Republican Party’s Future

November 4, 2012

Columnist George Will has said that, given the economy, if Republicans can’t beat this president, they should look for another line of business. (One might add, “given this black president.” This is not a basically racist country as lefties love saying; Obama was actually black before the last election; yet it does cost him some votes.)

If Romney loses, which I think likely, there will be a loud chorus of Republicans blaming their failure to nominate a “real conservative.” Like Rick Santorum? True, more Americans consider themselves “conservative” than liberal, but their conservatism doesn’t gibe with the fierce ideology of today’s Republican fire-eaters. Compassionate conservatism it ain’t. They are painting themselves into a narrow political corner. How often can they beat the drum for reducing government before voters get cynical because government only keeps growing, no matter how many tea-partiers are elected? And while Democrats demonize them as wanting to throw granny over the cliff, Republicans cannot deliver on their threats of cutbacks – not even Big Bird’s neck will meet the axe — so it’s a lose-lose position for them.

Of course we desperately need to curb spending; but it won’t happen without a bipartisan deal including taxes too. And Republicans won’t hear of it. Nevertheless, I believe Romney would actually make such a deal, achieving what Obama cannot. Yet, maddeningly, Romney seems to think he can’t say this. The lack of clarity  leaves Democrats free to posture as defenders of everyone’s government benefits, without being called on how to pay for it.

In 1992, after Democrats had lost five out of six presidential elections, some of them realized their leftwingery and interest group pandering wasn’t working, so spearheaded by Bill Clinton, they wrenched the party back toward the center. What Republicans need is not to ratchet up their ideological purity; but to wake up from that dream and wrench their party back toward the center. Otherwise they risk making Democrats the “natural party of government,” as they basically were for three decades up to the ‘60s.

Meantime, while the electorate is sharply divided, the voters in the middle – who actually decide elections – are not ideological nor swayed by policy arguments. They “vote for the man” they like better. They still like Obama better, skin color notwithstanding. Ronald Reagan was a big winner not because he was so conservative but because he was a “great communicator” whom people liked. But likeability counted for almost nothing in the Republican primaries. Romney would have been a far more appealing and credible candidate if he hadn’t had to go through the bizarrification machine of the Republican primaries. He’s tried to undo the damage, but probably too late.

Then there’s demographics. Republican voters aren’t reproducing as fast as Democratic voters; and, being older, on average, they’re exiting at a greater rate. Republicans’ core support base is white males, whose percentage in the population is inexorably shrinking. The demographic growing the fastest is Hispanics, not only by reproduction but via immigration, yet Republicans somehow thought it was a good idea to give Hispanics the finger. Of course they didn’t actually, but Hispanics can be forgiven for seeing it that way.

The irony is that President Obama gave Republicans a tremendous opportunity to gain Latino support because he failed to fulfill his promises for immigration reform and actually stepped up deportations, of over a million Hispanics. Welcoming immigrants – who come here to work and advance themselves economically – not to mention all those highly qualified foreigners whom American businesses desperately need but can’t get into the country – ought to be right in line with the Republican worldview. Instead they have succumbed to a brainless nativism. What a shame. (I was shocked recently to see The Economist listing Texas as only “leaning Republican.”)

And the Republicans have run a lousy, dumb campaign. With all the true things that can be said against Obama’s re-election (See for example my 7/12 post), why twist facts in ways that are bound to bite you in the ass? And after all the nonsense about “shipping jobs overseas,” what Republican campaign genius had the bright idea to spotlight the issue — with phony charges against Obama? All this erodes trustworthiness and the image of competence, and gets in the way of the main message. And while it’s healthy to change one’s mind sometimes, don’t make it seem constant and expedient – trustworthiness, again.

While both sides are equally guilty of running overwhelmingly negative ads, for Romney I think that’s been a fatal mistake. The conventional wisdom is that voters hate negative ads, but they work. However, voters already knew what they think of Obama and ads can’t much change that. But Romney is less known, and less liked, and hence needed to do much more to build up his own image as a palatable alternative, especially countering the negativity of Obama’s ads. It’s not enough just to show Obama’s weaknesses; you have to give people someone to vote for. 

If Romney wins, it will be in spite of his campaign, not because of it.

Note re Massachusetts: Senator Scott Brown is one of the few moderate bipartisan Republicans in Congress. How sad if he’s replaced with yet another regulation liberal partisan Democrat.

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This should be my last pre-election post. No matter who you’re for, vote; it’s the one sacrament we can all perform. And whoever you vote for, please remember that voters on the other side may be (in your opinion) wrong – but they’re not wicked.

And the Winner is …

October 4, 2012

One might be perplexed that given all the ways the President’s campaign has painted Romney as a bogeyman, Mr. Obama didn’t do much of that in the debate. Of course he didn’t have to, with his nasty ads flooding swing state airwaves; why sound nasty personally? And yet, by leaving all that stuff out of the debate, Obama may convey that it’s just garbage voters should ignore. Which it is. And what can you say of a candidate willing to fling lots of mud — except when the target is standing right there.

For example, the President’s only mention of “shipping jobs overseas” referred to a supposed tax break, which Romney quite effectively refuted. But not a word calling Romney himself an “outsourcing pioneer,” which might have been uncomfortable for the challenger, if only because it takes more than one simple sentence to answer. I’m almost sorry Romney wasn’t thusly forced to defend economic reality.

 The one attack the President did insist on pursuing, repeatedly, was the “$5 trillion tax cut” canard. Democrats seem so in love with the “tax cuts for the rich” accusation that they just can’t let go of it, even though Romney did have a simple one sentence answer: I’m not proposing that. (He isn’t.) Not only might that good clear answer have been foreseen, but for the President to invite it again, giving Romney further opportunities to call him, well, “inaccurate,” was to me the dumbest thing in the debate.

On that point, I was glad Romney followed the script I gave him. There was another one too: saying that wealthier people (like me) will have to see their Medicare benefits reduced. Though he didn’t stress it, and nobody seems to have picked up on it, I think that was both new and important as a first step toward the highly necessary concept of means-testing such programs. With Democrats allergic to the word “cut” regarding any entitlement spending, it’s interesting to hear the party they accuse of coddling the rich proposing to cut benefits for the rich.

Maybe this is still a horse race after all.

UPDATE 10:20 PM: The President’s been going around the country today saying the Romney in the debate wasn’t the real Romney. As if he’d hired some impersonator. And Obama still insists the real Romney does want a $5 trillion tax cut (for the rich). Oh, please. Give it up already.

How Romney can win the debate (and election)

October 2, 2012

I chuckled when Jonathan Haidt, in his recent book, said he’d been a 2004 campaign speechwriter for John Kerry – in his head, frustrated at Kerry’s failure to say what he (Haidt) thought necessary. Well, I’ve been speechwriting like that for Romney (posted here on 3/1 and 8/19). And now David Brooks, in his latest column, has given it a shot too, for Romney’s opening statement in the debate.

I’ve taken Brooks’s draft and reworked it:

Till now I’ve let myself be packaged as an ideological candidate. But, to be honest, that’s not really me. I see myself instead as a pragmatist problem-solver. So as the election nears, I’ve decided to leave aside political game-playing and get real.

My friends, America’s going broke. The next president had darn better finally make a “grand bargain” with the other party to get the budget under control. Mr. Obama has tried to (well, sort of), over the past four years, but failed. There’s no reason to think he’ll succeed in the next four.

One factor is that, while in 2008 he promised to be post-partisan, he actually shut out Republicans from Day One, making bipartisanship impossible.

Now, Republicans do share part of the blame, by refusing to consider any tax increases. And we should certainly aim to tax as little as possible. But there’s no way we can deal with our debt crisis through spending cuts alone; and no way Democrats will agree to major spending cuts unless Republicans budge on taxes. Other countries facing similar problems have successfully overcome them by raising something like $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts.

That’s a basically reasonable way forward. The only possible way. President Obama will never be able to achieve it; he’ll never get Republicans to accept it. But I can – and I will.

Make no mistake, we have to do this. We can’t keep spending a trillion a year more than we take in; and if nothing is done, it will only get worse, as the ratio of taxpaying working people to retired and benefit-receiving people inevitably shrinks. In fact, we’re able to borrow a trillion a year for now only because interest rates are at historic lows. But as our debt balloons, and repayment grows doubtful, countries like China won’t keep lending us money at such low interest rates. And when interest costs on our debt ($16 trillion and counting) jump up to more normal levels, we’ll be in deep doo-doo. We won’t be able to afford any of those benefit programs Democrats keep vowing to protect. Our government will be bankrupt and our economy destroyed.

This is the biggest problem facing America. Tackling it will take some spending cuts and tax increases none of us will like. President Obama and the Democrats are frankly incapable of dealing with it. They don’t even want to hear about it.

And by the way, the president’s proposals for higher taxes on the rich are not an answer. They’d be a drop in the bucket. I would also like to make clear that, contrary to what they tell you, I am not – repeat, not – proposing to reduce the taxes rich people pay.

But what would also help our debt problem is better economic growth, getting more Americans working. Democrats seem to think government can create jobs. They never seem to understand that most people work for businesses, so for high employment you need businesses to be successful, competitive and, yes, profitable. But according to the World Economic Forum, American competitiveness has fallen in each of the last four years.

Well, what do you expect with an administration that basically sees business as a public enemy? A Romney administration will instead aim to help businesses to be more competitive and successful, because that’s how you get more jobs – and less deficit spending.

President Obama has no plan for the next four years except to continue fighting the same fruitless battles he’s failed to win over the last four. If you think that’s a good plan for our economic future – then vote for him.