Unfrisky economy plays into Mitt's hands

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Pity poor (although rich) Mitt Romney. He gets no respect even among his own people. The other day The Wall Street Journal (motto: The Paper for the Thinking Person's Inner Genghis Khan) criticized the muddled state of his presidential campaign.

In an editorial, the Journal said the Romney campaign is "slowly squandering an historic opportunity" -- presumably the chance to force Americans to seek outsourced U.S. jobs overseas, where they can enjoy exotic tropical climes and cultural enrichment, which is the only sort of enrichment still available to them.

"The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it's Mr. Obama's fault," the editorial said. "Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the president's policies aren't working and how Mr. Romney's policies will do better."

You have to love Wall Street Journal editorials; they have a frisky tone, as you can see in that one wonderful aside of "Thanks, guys." It is touches like this that make the paper's editorials seem like several corporate executives standing on a Wall Street sidewalk, swinging their briefcases and saying "Nyah, nyah, nyah" to passersby in the hope that they are government regulators.

While this is great fun, the criticism of Mr. Romney in this editorial is unfair.

Of course, the economy stinks and the president must accept responsibility. But this does not give Mr. Romney's party proper credit for making it stink in the first place and continuing the stink with a deliberate throwing of economic skunks into the pile ever after.

Why, the way they have behaved you would think that one of the Republican leaders had said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

No need for modesty -- the Republicans have done a superb job of making a tough situation tougher. Take, for example, the threats of Tea Party pot-stirrers to shut down the government unless government spending is cut drastically -- this with the zeal that only comes from having been soundly asleep for years and then waking up to the problem. Surely no better way than government default exists to give worldwide investors a dose of the salts.

Some of Mr. Romney's conservative critics won't be satisfied until he becomes as crazy and as unsuitable as the other Republican candidates he faced in the primaries. If I were Mr. Romney, I would make a campaign slogan out of this: "Not as Batty as the Other Guys (and Gal)." It is a proud boast but true.

Should he get divorced from his wife just to get the vote of Newt Gingrich's core supporters, the philandering community? Should he carry binoculars in order to spot black helicopters or illegal aliens to woo the Michele Bachmann constituency? Should he become obsessed with what gay people are up to, a la Rick Santorum?

No, Mr. Romney should simply be himself, whatever that is that day. The American people do not need an explanation of what he will do for the economy if elected. The answer is nothing -- it's been made quite clear. Well, maybe tax cuts will be cut for those who don't really need a tax break, and regulations will be abolished for those who really need to be regulated.

But everybody in the future can go bankrupt without fear of oppressive government help or stimulus. On that happy day, no national shame will be felt for saving the auto industry with its hundreds of thousand of good jobs. The budget will be balanced by cutting out entitlements, which is to say, anything that ordinary folks have worked hard for all their lives.

Sorry, Wall Street Journal, but real Americans have been told endlessly why Barack Obama's policies will fail: They are socialist/Marxist, whereas Mr. Romney's are not socialist/Marxist.

The perfect example is universal health care. When then-Gov. Romney took an idea from the conservative Heritage Foundation and introduced a health care plan with an individual mandate into Massachusetts, this was a boost to personal responsibility, not to Marxism. It only became socialist/Marxist when Mr. Obama did it.

No, Mr. Romney can afford to play it safe and coast to victory because the president can't possibly win re-election in this economy, which is all his fault except for the large bit that isn't. The Mitt has two great strengths going for him -- Fox News (motto: The Network for the Unthinking Person's Outer Genghis Khan) and the gullibility of the American people.

Thanks, guys. See you at the soup kitchen.

reghenry

Reg Henry: rhenry@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1668.


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