By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Sat Oct 06, 2012, 04:10 PM EDT
If you had to pinpoint the exact moment when Mitt Romney's strategy to make the election largely a referendum on President Barack Obama collapsed, about 10:56 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, would be as good a guess as any.
That's when, roughly 20 minutes into his sprawling oration at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., former President Bill Clinton said that no president - not even the 42nd - could have done a better job fixing the economy than Obama, given the problems the incumbent inherited.
The riff was typically self-regarding. Yet it memorably - and for some voters, persuasively - stated the case for cutting the president slack for his economic stewardship in trying circumstances.
The Big Dog was pushing on something of an open door. Obama has failed, but for a majority of voters he hasn't failed enough to make it self-evident that he should go. The Romney campaign spent its convention answering the question: Is it OK to fire Obama if he's such a fine fellow? When the real question is: Can Romney do any better?
Indeed, the two conventions - so far, the pivot of the election - were encapsulated in their two signature performances. On one hand, there was Clint Eastwood's rambling, improvised 10-minute routine saying that it's OK to cashier Obama. On the other, there was Clinton's (at times rambling and improvised) 50-minute speech detailing why Romney's program is wrong for the country. Eastwood could have given his speech at amateur night at a comedy club; Clinton could have given his at a policy luncheon at the Brookings Institution.
There's been nothing to match it for the Republicans, which is one reason that Romney is now tied with Obama on the economy in many recent polls. Election Day is nearly six weeks away, and there's still a sense that the Romney campaign has not yet - although it is moving this way - fully begun to make its case on substance.
This doesn't mean it is doomed. Abraham Lincoln said that Gen. George McClellan had a case of the slows. The media have a case of the overs. Any alleged Romney gaffe, any bad poll number is taken as yet more evidence that the election is "over."
In prior elections, the media have been criticized for calling a race without waiting until the polls close in California; this time, the media wanted to call the race without waiting until October. The press won't be truly satisfied until a white flag of surrender is hoisted over Romney's Boston headquarters.
In the end, righting his campaign depends entirely on Romney himself. He is not a natural ideologue, nor - obviously - a natural backslapper. But he is a data-obsessed salesman. He should be pitching his program with all the zeal and airtight attention to detail of a presentation for a Bain Capital business deal.
It may be easier to make a future-oriented rather than backward-looking argument against the president. He has no second-term agenda to speak of, besides a tax increase and some more budget meetings with presumed House Speaker John Boehner. How did those meetings turn out last time?
At this point, almost every day, every hour that Romney isn't spelling out the programmatic differences between him and the president - and how they will affect people - is lost time.
Romney wants to reform taxes to make the system more efficient and spur growth; the president wants to raise taxes in a weak economy. Romney has serious plans to reform entitlements; the president has the status quo, plus a price-control board for Medicare. Romney wants to unleash an American energy revolution; the president wants to continue to stand in its way. Romney has a consumer-oriented health-care reform; the president has "ObamaCare."
Romney has to make an unrelenting case for his program, pitched particularly to the practical concerns of middle-class voters. He has to give the public compelling reasons to pick him in an election that will be a choice, not a referendum.
(c) 2012 by King Features Syndicate
December 10, 2013
Indiana’s lopsided win in the Old Oaken Bucket game ended yet another disappointing season for those unfortunate enough to call themselves Hoosier Football fans. As a member of that tortured lot, the climactic victory over hapless, one-win Purdue offered little solace.
December 9, 2013
December 7, 2013
When I woke up Saturday morning, I gave a customary online scan of Friday’s sports, mainly for a recap of the Pacers’ home game against Milwaukee.
November 18, 2013
Most people recall where they were upon hearing significant news in their life, whether it was positive or negative. I remember where I was when I heard now-former Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens was going to the Boston Celtics.
November 12, 2013
Having gone to a football school in the heart of basketball country, I was never around soccer in my youth, and thus haven’t been a soccer guy in adulthood.
November 5, 2013
I hate to say it, but I'm afraid we've seen this before.
October 29, 2013
There have been a lot of big games played in Indianapolis, none bigger than the Colts' unforgettable win over New England in the AFC championship seven years ago.
While next Monday's visit from Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos won't eclipse that monumental event, there is no doubt that the city has never and will never experience another night like No. 18's return.
October 17, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
After an anonymous donation the Worcester Catholic School will remain open. The 70-year-old school was going to close its doors in June.
December 12, 2013
© 2013 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. ·
CNHI Classified Advertising Network ·
CNHI News Service
Associated Press content © 2013. All rights reserved. AP content may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Our site is powered by Zope. Some parts of our site may require
you to download the Flash Player Plugin.
Terms and Conditions
Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN
8109 Kingston St., Suite 500