June 24, 2012

Please permit me to set the record straight as to my support for Mitt Romney. If I were forced at gunpoint to vote for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney (no third party candidates or write-ins allowed), I would vote against Obama.

That said, when asked today to whom I am throwing my support I proudly say, "For the third straight presidential election cycle, I'm going with the Constitution Party's candidate." That candidate is Virgil Goode.

Goode is not going to win the election, nor even pick up a single electoral vote, so let's move on.

The 2012 election is, quite simply, Romney's to lose. President Obama is slowly, but steadily, slipping in the polls and for each hint of bad news, the President picks up another social issue and redirects the thinking of his would be voters.

The issue is the economy and jobs, collectively. Obama talks little, if any, about it and Romney needs to keep the voters focused on it.

Obama will find special interest items and push his far-left ideological bent out to appease his base and distract the people.

There’s not much President Obama can do to boost the economy in the next five months, and that alone might cost him the November election. But on a range of social issues, Obama is bypassing Congress and aggressively using his executive powers to make it easier for gays to marry, women to obtain birth control, and, now, young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation.

There'll be more special interest issues to pounce on, of that I'm sure. But consider this: Obama looks like the bigger risk-taker. He doesn’t have many options.

The President is constrained by a complex, interrelated and frail global economy, and by a Republican-run House. Together, they severely limit his ability to influence the struggling U.S. economy, which Obama says needs more investments in education, renewable energy sources and other areas.

Using executive powers and persuasion, however, Obama can expand the rights of gays and lesbians in civil and military life; direct Catholic-affiliated employer insurance plans to cover contraceptives; and protect hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants from being deported.

Obama took that move last week and delighted many Hispanic groups while prompting Republican officials to grouse more about the process he used than the actual policy. Democrats enjoy a hefty edge among Hispanic voters, and some GOP strategists fear Romney is widening the gap.

However, if Mitt will stay on point and the main point is money in your pocket prompted by having a job, then his will be a serious campaign.

As Peggy Newnan of the Wall Street Journal says, "You know what Republicans on the ground think when they look at Mitt Romney? They think, 'Please don't blow it.'"

Even Karl Rove says that Obama can't win but Mr. Romney can still lose. So GOPers are feeling burly but anxious, hopeful yet spooked.

Mr. Romney is looking good, as are his crowds. When the camera shows people in the stands behind him as he speaks, they no longer look as if they walked in off the street or put a bet on a horse and are straining to see if it breaks from the pack. Now they look like people watching their horse take the lead, with no one coming up the outside.

The Romney strategy the past eight weeks has been, in a small way, shrewd: have the candidate out there talking in a candidate-like manner, but don't let him say anything so interesting that it will take the cameras off Mr. Obama. The president is lurching from gaffe to mess, from bad news to worse. Don't get in his way as he harms himself.

It's working, but won't for long. People want meaning, a higher and declared purpose.

An odd fact: Republicans more than others, amazingly, have internalized and hold to the idea that this president has some secret magical powers he's just waiting to unleash. Those powers normally go by the name "eloquence." But the eloquence was always exaggerated, and to the extent it existed, there's no sign it's about to kick in.

Mr. Romney has a tendency to litter his speeches with applause lines. They come one after another. It's old-fashioned, and it's based on the idea that that's all TV wants, five seconds of a line and two seconds of applause. But applause-line speeches aren't suited to the technological moment, when people can click on a link and listen to a whole speech if they have time. If all it is is applause lines, they'll turn away.

More important, applause-line speeches are not right for a time of crisis, because they do not allow for the development of a thought, a point of view, an insight. Those things take quiet building. Sometimes they take paragraphs, sometimes pages. They take time. But people like to listen if you're saying something interesting.

Campaign professionals like applause lines in part because they think that's all a campaign speech is, a vehicle for a picture of people clapping. They see the world in pictures on a screen; they are largely postliterate. They don't care about meaning, they care about impression. But in the end, the impression is bad: distracted candidate barking lines, robotic audience clapping.

As for the president, his big campaign speech last week in Cleveland not only was roundly panned but was deeply revealing. In it—all 54 minutes of it—he attempted to make the case for his economic stewardship and his re-election.

What he revealed is that he doesn't know the case for his own re-election.

Politicians give 54-minute speeches when they don't know what they're trying to say but are sure the next sentence will tell them. So they keep talking. They keep saying sentences in the hope that meaning will finally emerge from one of them.

It was a speech about everything—renewable energy, tax credits, Abraham Lincoln, tax loopholes, deficit imbalances, infrastructure, research and development incentives. But a speech about everything is a speech about nothing.

While the President wrestles with themes that distract the voters, Romney needs to pound the one issue home that Obama chooses to deflect. Jobs, the suffering private sector, regulations which stifle job creators, high unemployment among teens, returning veterans, and minorities.

Obama has taken the "low road" (meaning hitting below the belt tactics). His themes jump from one blame game to another and for a President who has yet to admit a single mistake on any issue, he sure has a way to keep your mind off of reality.

"It's not so bad—this indicator is up, and that one."

"OK, it's bad, but it could have been worse—my actions kept us from tanking."

"It's bad, but it's Bush's fault."

"It's bad, but it's the congressional Republicans' fault."

"I have made it less bad, and I need more time to make it even less badder."

"Rich people have fancy cars and car elevators, I stand for jalopies and street parking."

None of his blame-game rhetoric seems to be working.  What does it say of a crisis presidency at a dramatic moment that a president can't make the case for his own re-election, can't find his own meaning?

It says the other guy can win—if he has meaning. And isn't just a handsome stranger who says, "I'm not the last guy, I'm not the guy you don't like."

That won't do this year. So don't blow it Mitt!

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.