Charles Krauthammer — No More Small Ball: It’s Time For Romney to Go!!

No More Small Ball:

In mid-September 2008, Lehman Bros. collapsed and the bottom fell out of the financial system. Barack Obama handled it coolly. John McCain did not. Obama won the presidency. (Given the country’s condition, he would have won anyway. But this sealed it.)

Four years later, mid-September 2012, the U.S. mission in Benghazi went up in flames, as did Obama’s entire Middle East policy of apology and accommodation. Obama once again played it cool, effectively ignoring the attack and the regionwide American humiliation. “Bumps in the road,” he said.

Nodding tamely were the mainstream media, who would have rained a week of vitriol on Mitt Romney had he so casually dismissed the murder of a U.S. ambassador, the raising of the black Salafist flag over four U.S. embassies and the epidemic of virulent anti-American demonstrations from Tunisia to Sri Lanka (!) to Indonesia.

Obama seems not even to understand what happened. He responded with a groveling address to the U.N. General Assembly that contained no less than six denunciations of a crackpot video, while offering cringe-worthy platitudes about the need for governments to live up to the ideals of the U.N.

The U.N. being an institution of surpassing cynicism and mendacity, the speech was so naive it would have made a fine middle-school commencement address. Instead, it was a plaintive plea by the world’s alleged superpower to be treated nicely by a roomful of the most corrupt, repressive, tin-pot regimes on earth.

Yet Romney totally fumbled away the opportunity. Here was a chance to make the straightforward case about where Obama’s feckless approach to the region’s tyrants has brought us, connecting the dots of the disparate attacks as a natural response of the more virulent Islamist elements to a once-hegemonic power in retreat. Instead, Romney did two things:

He issued a two-sentence critique of the initial statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on the day the mob attacked. The critique was not only correct but vindicated when the State Department disavowed the embassy statement.

However, because the critique was not framed within a larger argument about the misdirection of U.S. Middle East policy, it could be — and was — characterized as a partisan attack on the nation’s leader at a moment of national crisis.

Two weeks later at the Clinton Global Initiative, Romney did make a foreign-policy address. Here was his opportunity. What did he highlight? Reforming foreign aid.

Yes, reforming foreign aid! A worthy topic for a chin-pulling joint luncheon of the League of Women Voters and the Council on Foreign Relations. But as the core of a challenger’s major foreign-policy address amid a Lehman-like collapse of the Obama Doctrine?

It makes you think how far ahead Romney would be if he were actually running a campaign. His unwillingness to go big, to go for the larger argument, is simply astonishing.

For six months, he’s been matching Obama small ball for small ball. A hit-and-run critique here, a slogan-of-the-week there. His only momentum came when he chose Paul Ryan and seemed ready to engage on the big stuff: Medicare, entitlements, tax reform, national solvency, a restructured welfare state. Yet he has since retreated to the small and safe.

When you’re behind, however, safe is fatal. Even his counterpunching has gone miniature. Obama has successfully painted Romney as an out of touch, unfeeling plutocrat whose only interest is to cut taxes for the rich.

Romney has complained in interviews that it’s not true. He has proposed cutting tax rates, while pledging that the share of the tax burden paid by the rich remains unchanged (by “broadening the base” as in the wildly successful, revenue-neutral Reagan-O’Neill tax reform of 1986).

But how many people know this? Where is the speech that hammers home precisely that point, advocates a reformed tax code that accelerates growth without letting the rich off the hook, and gives lie to the Obama demagoguery about dismantling the social safety net in order to enrich the rich.

Romney has accumulated tons of cash for 30-second ads. But unless they’re placed on the scaffolding of serious speeches making the larger argument, they will be treated as nothing more than tit for tat.

Make the case. Go large. About a foreign policy in ruins. About an archaic, 20th-century welfare-state model that guarantees 21st-century insolvency. And about an alternate vision of an unapologetically assertive America abroad unafraid of fundamental structural change at home.

It might just work. And it’s not too late.

About geneb527

Retired, but still spending an inordinant amount of time thinking about all things big and small. I am proud to be a strong constitutional conservative. I am also proud to have been married over 56 years to my wonderful wife, Louise. I continue to be amazed that she has put up with me for such a long time, but have been happy that she decided to do so. "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not," warned Thomas Jefferson.
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4 Responses to Charles Krauthammer — No More Small Ball: It’s Time For Romney to Go!!

  1. AmericaBeautiful says:

    Americans must keep up with the daily postings from Accuracy In Media. Per former Democratic strategist Pat Caddell, the media have become the enemy of the American people. We are not getting the info we need to make decisions for our own and our country’s benefit. And Romney refuses to tackle this problem. Why? If he doesn’t soon, he will lose to those who want free phones, etc:

  2. You’re right, Gene, it’s not too late. And Romney is, from the polls which have any sort of credibility, still statistically tied as of now.

    My guess is that he’s playing until the Debates, but if he should falter their….well, we both know where that will put him.

    Way back in 1980, Reagan won his election against Carter not making any real headway until after the debates. More recently, Chris Christie won the Governor’s office in similar fashion, not really indicating the bombastic style for which he is currently known. He was fine, but I watched that election closely: he was sorta bland as a candidate.

    I don’t know if Romney’s “stay close until the 4th quarter” gambit will work; I’d prefer he go “big”, as you suggest.
    However, if he IS basically tied at this point, and Obama/Media have slammed Romney as everything from people’s deaths to hating your dog, it actually shouldn’t take all that much to break the stalemate.
    A tick; a nudge; a quip; anything.

    He seems to be playing safe, ..for now. I’d like to see Mitt drop down a gear, jam the pedal to the floor and take off. Partially, I think I’d like that because I want to stop being so darn worried about this race.

    This article is solid advice.
    If Romney incorporates even part of it, he should pull this off.

    • geneb527 says:

      I believe you are right about everything. My personal desire it for Romney to attack hard. If he doesn’t at some time I am afraid we will get Obama for another 4 years and that would be catastrophic. If all conservative thinking will get out and vote I feel reasonably confident that we will win. Thanks for your thoughts and let’s pray for a victory!

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