Independent of when the election is called, President Obama will be proclaimed the victor of this extremely expensive and burdensome process. He will win not because he is the better candidate with a better vision for America, but because he was up against an opponent who failed to articulate policy positions, policy differences, and time and time again, failed to ask the critical questions.
On Foreign Policy
With the meltdown of the Arab Spring occurring on this President’s watch and on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, Governor Romney had an opportunity to raise substantive questions of policy on how we have engaged the new democracies in the region and around the world. Such questions speak directly to the President’s reluctant leadership on the issue of engagement and international development. Instead, the Romney campaign and the candidate chose to fight over whether or not the President saw that this was a coordinated terrorist attack. While this does question the judgment of a small and significant event, a more damning question is whether or not this President is prepared to defend American interests and American representatives? Most liberal allies would point to the strike against Osama as evidence of the resolve of this President and his commitment to national security, but why is the same man not willing to deploy our troops on a rescue mission that was so clearly needed? Why is it that for 8 hours, no action is taken to save our top level diplomats from a certain death?
On Domestic Policy
We can all agree – independent of party lines – that the crisis within our healthcare system had to be addressed. However, at a time of high unemployment, Barack Obama never seemed to get the message: uncertainty does not help to generate jobs. As such, his prioritizing healthcare reform was a strategic blunder and a miscalculation at a time of great national need. The changes that the law demands, some of which are necessary, created uncertainty in large and small businesses, so hiring went at a slower pace and employers tried to figure out how much a new person would actually cost them. When combined with wasteful spending of some ARRA projects, that should have been sufficient to raise substantive questions of PRIORITIES. Instead, the populist position of repeal the act and cut the deficit seemed to consume the campaign. Such rhetoric was neither productive nor presidential as it created similar uncertainty for businesses and forced them to the sidelines.
The symbolic collapse of Solyndra, the Romney campaign could have raised the following questions: Why did the President and the Vice President endorse this company as strongly as they did, and are there any leads to the President from the management of the company? The answer to the latter is YES. So, why then choose a path that questions all green investment? All investments in research and innovation are important even if the companies fail, but the selection of the projects and the monitoring of the projects must be merit-based. So, why then accuse the government of picking winners and losers poorly, when in this case there was ample proof of collusion?
Time and time again, the Romney campaign had an opportunity to bring a damaging blow and they failed to do so, choosing populist, empty, and questionable lines instead of concrete criticisms of the struggling Obama Administration. People ask: Why is Bill Clinton such a great communicator? The answer is that he speaks to the heart by using statistics and facts instead of just endless platitudes and applause lines. At a time when problems are too big and too personal, Romney had the chance to win the argument and he chose just to win the nomination.