Last week's premise - the Republican/conservative objective for 2012 is to win the presidency; the key issue is jobs; Mitt Romney is most able to make credible arguments across a broad range of jobs-related subjects - brought an unusual level of criticism from the Left and the Right. I'll address the major arguments.
From the Left: It's George Bush's fault. President Obama's policies have been pro-recovery.
Response: Based on past recessions and recoveries, almost two years into the recovery the US economy should be growing at 5 to 8%; the actual rate in the first quarter was 1.8%, barely enough to hold the unemployment rate at 9% despite a hugely accommodative Federal Reserve and massive deficits. Many other countries are doing much better - China, Brazil, Turkey, Germany, Canada, France, etc. etc. And many are taking on the longer term problem of huge deficits - the United Kingdom for example. Our Democrats have not even bothered to produce budgets. If one needs specific examples of job-killing policies, you can start with the oil and gas industry in the Gulf states where the extended moratorium on drilling (with a "boot on the neck" of the oil drillers) has cost tens of thousands of jobs - while supporting the Brazilian oil industry.
From the Right:
1. What about Herman Cain who announced on Sunday?
Response: I met Cain at the 2010 Red State Gathering and liked him a lot. He has a proven business track record at Pillsbury and at Godfather's Pizza. He is a great speaker and has a responsible conservative following. It would be great to support an articulate conservative African American. But... he has little name recognition, money, or experienced staff. His business experience is narrow and perhaps not strategic. He has never held elective office. And his knowledge gaps will be exposed by an eager press - as in his recent comments about the Israel/Palestine conflict. He is basing his campaign on the Iowa caucuses (as Mike Huckaby did in 2008) - if he wins there he may become viable.
2. What about Romneycare in Massachusetts?
Response: This will take a full post at a future date, but for starters:
- He is standing by a belief in significantly expanded access to health care. Most Americans would agree with the premise, although from there it can get ugly. Conservatives such as Jim Demint are willing to look beyond the headlines at Romney's details.
- Obama expanded coverage but did nothing to control costs. Romney would be uniquely situated to apply market mechanisms in the inevitable "Health care 2.0".
- His support for an "individual mandate" in Massachusetts is a big problem for individual liberty advocates - and quite likely for the Supreme Court eventually. That is a big negative.
3. John Galt is an inapt analogy.
Response: Right. Romney is neither a libertarian nor an outsider. I do, however, believe that he has the ability to foster a rebirth of American economic prominence based on free market principles.
So, why support Romney? For the next year the weight of media coverage will be about the shortcomings of Republican candidates and the unbeatable messiah. There is more to Romney than just being the next in line for the Republican establishment - much more. He understands jobs and he can win.
For those who believe that Hollywood has no political aspirations as they pursue artistic excellence and try to make a buck, here is a video about the "sacrilegious, profane, and hilarious" Book of Mormon which is gobbling up outstanding reviews and awards on Broadway. So much for tolerance, diversity, and mutual respect - and subtle political agendas.