If you are wondering why President Obama came out of Charlotte with a week-long bounce, consider this: In the fortnight covering the Republican and Democratic conventions, the Obama campaign and allied independent expenditure committees ran roughly 41,000 ads, twice as many as their pro-Romney counterparts (http://tinyurl.com/8r2rhqq).
Apparently the Obama people did not trust their man’s ability to deliver, so they bought a $21 million insurance policy against a flopped meeting. And recalling the extremism of the messages pouring from the podium and the floor, the botching of both the platform and the fix and the banal acceptance speech, it was money well spent.
Seeing their lagging poll numbers, GOP circles have been debating whether Mr. Romney should go with one or more longer television buys, 30 minutes on all networks in which the candidate would deliver speeches to the camera. Reagan did this to great effect in his campaigns. Romney is not the speaker Reagan was. But I, for one, have come around to the view that on the economy and foreign policy, the American people need to hear him explain himself more fully.
Here are my thoughts on what he should say.
Speech on the economy:
In policy papers and even his book, Governor Romney has laid out his positions in both broad strokes and detail. Before a national audience, he needs to pull it all together as a coherent program. But that’s not all.
He needs to layout the truth about our recent economic history, rebutting the president’s duplicitous version. Mr. Obama says that the Reaganesque policies of low taxes, less regulation of business and free market capitalism “got us into this mess.” More government will get us out.
This, of course, is false.
Governor Romney should remind us that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd’s rolling the dice on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are what really got us into “this mess.” The Administration’s out of control spending and regulating, deficits and debt and the threat of higher taxes are what’s keeping us in it. Reversing those policies will be the first step to getting us out.
But he shouldn’t stop with the back-story. He needs to remind voters that two forces drive our economy: 1) creation of new businesses; 2) global trade.
This fact is why his policies will work and the president’s have not, and he should say so. New business creation is supersensitive to taxes (see, for example, http://tinyurl.com/8pjkcvz) , excessive and capricious regulations, unstable monetary policy and weakening of the rule of law. What’s more, in our competitive global environment, Americans lose out when our government falls short in any of these areas – or in the expansion of open global trading.
In other words, he needs to tell us why his program will produce a bright future of economic growth. After four years of fluff from the current president, he needs to offer credible hope.
Speech on Foreign Policy
This past week, the superstructure of the Obama administration’s foreign policy collapsed. The purest and most naïve expression of liberal internationalism since Woodrow Wilson, the Obama global strategy was supposed to usher in an era of harmony, especially in the world’s most problematic region. It has now clearly failed. What next?
Again, Mr. Romney needs to offer credible hope, starting with a clear-eyed assessment of the situation we face, both its menaces and its possibilities.
Regarding menaces, as foreign policy scholar Michael Ledeen lays out in the current Claremont Review of Books (http://preview.tinyurl.com/9jfylfl), we are facing an increasingly coordinated collection of state and non-state adversaries: Iran, Hezbollah and various jihadists; parts of the Chinese and Russian state apparatuses; Venezuela, the drug cartels and various hangers on. None is an entirely traditional state threat.
At the same time, we have true allies, countries that share all or large parts of our understanding of human dignity, government by consent of the governed, and free economies. These include the UK, Israel and Japan, among many others.
Great as the challenges are, the opportunities of this emerging world are even greater – if we nurture our friendships (as the Obama administration too often has failed to do) and are realistic about those who wish us ill (as it has also failed to do).
For from India and China to Mexico and Brazil to parts of Africa, middle classes are emerging all over the world. Wherever they have developed in the past, they have demanded of their governments respect for human dignity and more peaceful international policies. As in America, new business creation and expanding global trade are the drivers of their success. These interests that they share with countries like our own suggest a future of enormous global commonality.
If, with clear-sighted realism, America again leads the world, working with allies to check the menacing moves of adversaries, this global middle class can have the peace and economic expansion on which its growth and our future — a future of credible hope — depend.
Anyway, something like that is what I would tell Mr. Romney to say. He has already said it all in bits and pieces. Now he needs to bring it together.