SALT LAKE CITY, May 8, 2012 — Last week, my colleague Catherine Poe posed a set of fascinating and related questions to her readers (among whom I count myself): “Why isn’t Mitt Romney doing better? Why isn’t he the Golden Boy this year? Why is he apt to lose?”
Unfortunately for Ms. Poe and her fellow Obama boosters, the polls right now are rather inconvenient; Real Clear Politics has Romney up in every reliable poll, and were it not for an obviously flawed outlier, the average would be well in Romney’s favor.
It is true that Romney doesn’t have a commanding lead over the sitting president. It’s merely the most optimistic way of framing President Obama’s chances for re-election. That our incumbent president — who won handily in 2008 and enjoyed enormous popularity at his inauguration — hasn’t been above 50% in either re-elect numbers or job approval ratings in the last two years is just short of a wholesale repudiation.
Yet the conventional wisdom on the Left has Obama coasting to victory this year. Ms. Poe identifies seven reasons why Romney can’t win. Interestingly, her misreading of the situation is precisely why Romney will win.
We’ll start, as prudence insists, at the beginning.
1. Poe says: Romney is a radical capitalist, not just a capitalist or a venture capitalist, but a radical capitalist.
The truth: Mitt Romney understand free markets.
Like it or not, American voters like the free economy. To the 40% of Americans who count themselves as conservatives, there’s really no such thing as a radical capitalist. Freedom is freedom.
Romney’s America is where a company like Bain Capital, which Romney headed up for 15 years, can cause 22 % of the businesses he took over to end in bankruptcy, while putting thousands of workers out of jobs or shipping those jobs overseas. He became rich doing so, very rich, as others ended up on unemployment lines.
Bottom line: Bain Capital, and firms like it, allocate resources to profitable and productive ventures. Apparently, Democrats are totally copacetic with putting thousands out of work when the government does it through high taxes and over-regulation.
Meanwhile, they have no qualms about dumping millions into doomed projects like Solyndra. Obama, in particular, doesn’t have the slightest clue about what enterprises might be successful and which might not. While his Energy Department continues to throw tax dollars at quixotic energy schemes, he has completely snubbed the Keystone XL pipeline, which would indisputably create thousands of high-paying jobs.
Romney, perhaps more than any other American politician, understands how best to allocate capital resources efficiently. And it is no insult to call him rich. Of course Romney became wealthy; that’s often the measure of success in a free market. The free market will be the main topic in the coming presidential election, and Obama is a loser on that issue.
Ms. Poe also ascribes the worst possible motives to those who think it might be unwise to pay people to not work:
In other words, those of you on unemployment actually just want a government handout.
Yet it is Obama’s economic program that has produced a permanent class wards of the federal government.
2. Poe says: Not only is Romney out of touch, he lacks the common touch.
The truth: Mitt Romney knows America better than any Obama speechwriter.
Yes, Mitt Romney owns a large house in California. Yes, his wife has two Cadillacs. The GOP, I’m sure, will concede that Mitt Romney has a lot of money. So did FDR and JFK. So did John Kerry. So does president Obama.
The Democrats can delude themselves that Obama feels people’s pain better than his rival. The only evidence we have of that, however, is a good speech here and there.
Romney will simply argue that Obama caused the pain, and that it will take a new president to alleviate it.
Ms. Poe wants to focus the conversation on Romney’s alleged diss of a cookie maker in Pennsylvania. Compared to Obama’s outrageously perpetual insensitivity to over half the country who might want to cut spending, reduce the size of the federal government, or repeal Obamacare, the cookie comment is a laughable throw-away line.
Barack Obama has never worked a real job in his adult life. He lives in a bubble and refuses to see outside of it. While he basks in the praise of his faculty-lounge cohorts, the First Lady has made multi-million dollar shopping junkets to entirely different continents. If the Obamas are counting on his smooth delivery to connect with average American suffering from his anti-growth policies, then they have another thing coming.
Moreover, the Dems are sorely underestimating Romney’s ability to connect. The governor has been a Mormon bishop and a stake president, both positions that put one in the service of wide socioeconomic strata of congregants. He served an overseas mission, went to a university that was anything but elite, and ran the Olympics.
Mitt Romney has associated with people vastly different from himself his entire life. Not only has Obama never stepped outside his comfort zone, he hasn’t even tried to empathize with those just outside of it.
3. Poe says: Romney was painted into a corner by the Right Wing.
The truth: Romney can be a clear spokesman for common sense conservatism.
The corner to which she refers is the one that swept the Democrats out of power in the House in 2010, and stalled Obama’s radically progressive agenda in the second half of his first and only term.
Yes, Romney is pivoting to the middle. He is savvy. President Obama is not. When it became clear that Americans did not want his brand of state-run health care, he charged ahead anyway. When the voters of Massachusetts said stop, he charged ahead. When the electorate showed Speaker Pelosi the door in an epic rejection, he refused to acknowledge that working with Republicans and independents might even be politically expedient.
If anything, the right wing of the GOP doesn’t completely trust Romney. But they will vote for him. Why don’t they trust him? Because he was able to convince the voters in a deep blue state to elect him their governor.
Democrats seem to think that the GOP has gone radically to the right. In fact, the national electorate is more conservative than it was four years ago. That fact helps Romney, and hurts Obama.
4. Poe says: Mitt Romney was bloodied by the Primary, even though he tilted Right without toppling over.
The truth: Mitt Romney proved he can fight off simultaneous attacks and hold the middle.
This seems a lot like reason number three, but if we are to make two issues out of one, it is to the President’s disadvantage, since conservatism is on the rise.
But first, it is important to realize that Mitt Romney was anything but bloodied. He leads the president in polls right now. As a point of reference, at this time in 2004, Bush was slightly, but significantly, ahead of John Kerry in the major polls. Remember that Senator Kerry breezed though his primaries.
Sure, Romney had to fight to get the nomination, but those fights didn’t damage him significantly electorally. In fact, Romney now has effective organizations in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin because those battles were so intense.
After running the gauntlet of the GOP primary, you would think Republicans would say, “OK, Mitt got the nomination, now let’s start working for our guy.” However, no matter how hard Romney tries, he can’t get Republican voters to like him, much less love him, or even fall in line.
As I argued several weeks ago, Mitt Romney brings the best of both worlds to the general election. He can appeal to independent voters precisely because he is not a darling of the far right.
5. Poe says: Women don’t care for Romney or his policies.
The truth: Women are not pawns in the great Obama deception game.
If women are the reason we have a lackey president, then maybe Romney shouldn’t court their votes. But the reality is that Romney will be able to make the case that Obamanomics hurts women more than not having a federal worker personally deliver unlimited quantities of birth control to their nightstands.
To say that women don’t care for Romney’s policies is an insult to free thinkers of both sexes.
6. Poe says: Hispanic voters can tip the election and they’re no fans of Romney.
The truth: Hispanic voters are not stupid.
Romney’s tough anti-immigration talk during the primary drove away Hispanic voters. Now Romney proclaims that “President Obama Isn’t Working for Hispanics,” showing Hispanic unemployment is two points higher than the national average, while Hispanic households have lost 66 percent of their net worth in the recession. And while that is true, it turns out they don’t blame the President.
Well, Catherine, they certainly aren’t going to blame Romney, either. Only the governor can point to job creation in the Hispanic community.
7. Poe says: Ron Paul is not going anywhere.
The truth: Ron Paul is irrelevant.
That might be harsh, but it is true. Every former Republican presidential hopeful got sucked into the Paul trap. Everyone except Romney, who frequently referred to him in gracious and congenial terms, and often deferred to him on matters flattering to the septuagenarian libertarian.
If the Paulbots don’t get their way, they will be decamping and taking with them a solid 10 to 12% of Republican voters, a number not to be sneezed at.
Paul, in all likelihood, will endorse Mitt Romney. If he goes to Tampa, the only way his supporters will hear from him is if Romney allows him inside the convention hall. A deal will be struck. Rand Paul might even speak. Some of the Paulbots will stay home, some will vote for their guy. They will not amount to the 10 to 12 points that Democrats hope.
There is one more issue that deserves a response. Poe writes sarcastically, “Elect Mitt Romney and just like that, all will be well, thanks to free enterprise—as if we never needed the trust busting of the Progressive…”
Trust-busting is a conservative cause, not a progressive one. Adam Smith himself, the intellectual godfather of free markets, noted that monopoly was antithetical to freedom.
American liberals—chief among them Obama—are the ones who love monopoly, usually of the state variety. A single payer for health care, for instance, wouldn’t bother Ms. Poe in the least. If the “progressives of the early 20th century came around trying to bust that monopoly, one wonders if they’d earn her praise.
Romney’s economic plan will restore choice and competition to an anemic market.
There might be a few reasons why Romney might not win. But the seven that Catherine Poe identified are actually the reasons why Barack Obama will lose.
Learn more about the author at Rich-Stowell.com
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative, which you can follow on Facebook.
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