Nice Talking Points

There is one person in the Republican field for President that could get more than 40% of the popular vote in a general election and his name is Mitt Romney.  There are times where being flexible is the best attribute you can have and that’s why I’ve always believed that Romney is the only hope the GOP has this time around.  The guy can articulate a sentence and when the rest of the field engages in a hypothetical conversation with themselves, the rest of the country feels like it’s not part of the debate and that’s a problem.

The one thing Mitt Romney gives you – flexibility – is also his biggest handicap.  It’s going to take some serious political gymnastics to escape his philosophical endorsement of the Affordable Care Act, but the one thing Romney has shown over his career is that he is able to change positions on important issues with the amount of regularity that you or I change the T.V. station.

Now, let’s return to the realities that will face the Republican nominee for President.  How do you make such a nuanced argument against the President that voters will see you as anti-establishment, yet allow yourself sufficient political cover to maneuver deftly in favor of the guy as a human being?  This is a question that McCain struggled with in 2008 and apart from Sarah Palin, was the biggest reason he lost his bid for President.  McCain stood up in town halls and defended Barack Obama from malicious attacks and he deserves our praise for that, but in the end, it doomed his political campaign.  Let’s face it: Republicans don’t just hate President Obama as a politician, many hate him as a human being and that’s a problem for a candidate that needs to win over independent voters to win a general election.

So, if I were advising Mitt Romney I’d hammer away at the economy (because that is supposedly Romeny’s strong suit) and let most of the national security issues loom over the President’s head.  The one thing that I wouldn’t do is attack the President’s decision making abilities or his ability to keep our country safe.  Why?  Because less than one month ago, the President did something that made us all proud not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans.  The guy ordered the death of a man who took 3,000 American lives.  That’s a political trump card and it’s one that no other candidate can touch.

Imagine my surprise when I see former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney calling Barack Obama “one of the most ineffective presidents” he’s ever seen.  That’s a dumb move right there.  Not only did the President score the biggest victory yet in our country’s War on Terror, he’s also moving us out of engagements in two other countries.    It’s also difficult to downplay the financial success of the American auto industry that President Obama bailed out over the objections of many.

Romney tells NBC in an interview that while Obama wasn’t responsible for the recession he inherited, “he made things worse. He’s failed.”  This is where the nuance hurts Romney.  You can’t prove a negative.  Romney won’t be able to make the salient argument that Obama actually managed to make things worse than they already were because the level of the economic crisis we faced when he took office was so great that it’s nearly impossible to forget.

Romney also says he thinks Obama lacks “a cogent assessment” of world affairs. The Republican charges, in his words, “The Arab spring came, one of the greatest opportunities we’ve seen in decades, and we’ve been flatfooted.”  The latter is a good argument.  The former could sink his campaign.

Romney, who plans to formally get into the GOP race later this week, says he doesn’t think his Mormon faith will be an obstacle to winning the GOP presidential nod, saying “we’re not electing a pastor in chief, we’re electing a commander in chief.”  That’s an excellent talking point, unfortunately for Romney, that quote is lifted directly from a speech by JFK.  Repetition can help with your message, but blatantly misrepresenting something for your political benefit doesn’t help your campaign.  Especially when you’re a repeat offender.

Remember when Romney said he walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr?  Then, when it surfaced that it wasn’t physically possible for that to happen, Romney said it was his dad who walked with MLK?  When that didn’t work he said that he had walked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “in spirit.”  These things don’t help your cause and when they keep happening over and over again, they really don’t help your cause.

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