Friday, November 25, 2011

Mitt Romney Needs to Abandon the Thomas E. Dewey Strategy

What do you think of when you think of Mitt Romney? Certainly he is intelligent, accomplished, organized, and, in a way, looks like a president. Conservative ideology aside, we would have no reason to think that Romney could not be sound in office.

But is Romney inspiring? Does Romney exude what George H. W. Bush derided as "that vision thing?"

There lies the problem.

Romney's rope-a-dope style in the primary season may win him the nomination as the not-Romneys battle it out. Compared to most of the pack, he looks far better informed and ready to govern. Compared to Newt Gingrich, he definitely looks more predictable and, some say, safe. Unfortunately for Romney, that could have been said about Neville Chamberlain versus Winston Churchill in 1938.

Should Romney win the nomination, and that is a strong possibility, he must cease the pleasant little boat trip of a campaign that he has captained so far. His latest debate spawned criticisms of his "going through the motions" and resorting to platitudes. This will not do against a campaign in 2012 that promises to be one of the most vicious in American history.

Thomas Dewey took the field against Harry Truman in 1948. Dewey altered his strategy after accusations of going too aggressively against Franklin Roosevelt. That was a mistake in that FDR was a sick old hero, whereas Truman was somewhat unpopular.

Whatever accolades Truman deserves for identifying Soviet evil early on, he must be remembered as a bare-knuckled liar of a campaigner. FDR's successor got everything that he wanted out of the initially hesitant to spend GOP Congress in 1947. The Marshall Plan, National Security Act of 1947, aid to Greece and Turkey, all this and more came at the behest of Truman. Few presidents have gotten more out of their own party. But Truman, seeing Dewey as a likeable opponent, campaigned against the "do-nothing Congress."

Dewey responded by ignoring Truman and playing prevent defense, which in football usually translates to preventing the win. Truman had very low popularity with all voters and even faced major splits in his own party. The liberal Louisville Courier-Journal summed up Dewey's campaign in the following fashion:

No presidential candidate in the future will be so inept that four of his major speeches can be boiled down to these historic four sentences: Agriculture is important. Our rivers are full of fish. You cannot have freedom without liberty. Our future lies ahead.

If you didn't already know....Truman won in 1948.

To be fair, Romney has been much more specific than Dewey was. However, he needs to show spark. Romney, if he wins nomination, needs that moment where Americans see that he can intelligently rise to the occasion. Ronald Reagan's famous 1980 microphone moment ( is an example.

It is still a long way to the end, and Gingrich is showing staying power and intellectual command. But if Romney should win, he needs to ignore the Dewey gameplan and go on the attack.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We are thankful for God, family, country, and all of the men and women who risk all every day to protect us.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gingrich Looking Past Primaries?

Newt Gingrich, in last night's debates, seemed to start positioning himself against not only his fellow Republicans, but also the incumbent president. The former Speaker of the House strongly advocated for a "humane" immigration policy that eases the enforcement of laws on long term illegals. His rationale lay in preventing family break-ups.

Gingrich runs the risk of losing the conservative support built over the past several weeks, following the trend of Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain when each fumbled in the right wing red zone. It lends credence to the idea that Gingrich actually lies more in the center than even Mitt Romney and opens the door further to criticism of his other non-conservative moves in the past.

It also opens the door for Gingrich to expand his support into different groups, especially if he wins the nomination. The Hispanic community is no monolithic creature. It divides along national and generational lines. Gingrich's move tactically targets Hispanics whose social conservatism could bring them into the GOP camp, or at least convince them to elect some Republicans. The family first mantra will attract Roman Catholic and other religious voters who have been pushing this line in many issues for decades.

The Republican Party itself has no consensus on all immigration policy ideas. Gingrich's gamble will cost him support now, but would definitely broaden his appeal if nominated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Is Joe Manchin's Endgame?

It's a good question.

Unlike many Democratic lawmakers who thinly praise, or opt out of the discussion altogether when it comes to Obama, Senator Manchin has gone on the offensive. Most recently, he blasted Obama for failed leadership on the issue of budget deficits.

This is not really a position of tremendous political courage for Manchin. West Virginia despises Obama and overwhelmingly approves of their newest U. S. Senator. However, he is right to compare his own leadership favorably to the absent Obama. Manchin, albeit with a few accounting gimmicks, could show a balanced budget every year. He also used surpluses to reduce state pension debt. Despite the (D) after his name, Manchin exercised some fiscal conservatism. His example has been followed by current West Virginia governor Earl Ray Tomblin and even New York governor Andrew Cuomo. Common sense dictates that in a poor economy, tax hikes and drastically expanded spending cannot work.

Joe Manchin is the consummate politician. He has an endgame here. Does it involve a bid for higher political office under the Democratic banner? Or is his rhetoric, which sounds moderate for a Republican and actually runs right of Mitt Romney in some ways, prefacing a party switch?

This coming election cycle could be one of the most raucous and unpredictable in some time. Some things that would have been impossible a few years ago might be seen as bold solutions now, especially if a true maverick like Newt Gingrich ends up on the GOP ticket.

For now, it is interesting to see Manchin again target Obama on the economic warpath.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Obama and NASCAR...What Could Go Wrong?

In one of the worst of a series of bad moves for the Obama administration, someone had the bright idea to put Michelle Obama front and center in front of a .........NASCAR crowd?

What's next? Beer summit between Barack and Charlie Daniels?

Michelle Obama, she who was first proud to be an American only when her husband received the nomination, was booed heartily by the crowd in Florida. Just like Herbert Hoover met with boos in 1932 when he attended baseball games.

She ostensibly was on tap for a pretty worthy cause, honoring troops and their families. The swing state timing of this appearance was certainly political, and had she met with roars of approval, Democrat pundits would have eagerly embraced this as evidence that Obama has more support than we think.

Barack himself, who believes that these NASCAR fans cling unreasonably to guns and religion, (among other fairly condescending remarks) was booed in 2010 by Boy Scouts, of all people. This is not a new phenomenon for the Obamas.

I wonder what bright individual thought that Obama and NASCAR would mix. NASCAR fans do not tend to be leftists. And don't give me the race issue either. Had Allen West or Herman Cain done the same, they would have received raucous cheers.

Michelle Obama should try opening up CPAC next year. She might get a better reaction.