(This column was preceded yesterday by one presenting Mitt Romney’s best arguments for winning the presidency in 2012. The author supports Barack Obama for re-election.)
First and foremost, President Obama must return to the themes of his 2008 presidential campaign and his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech that so inspired Americans from all walks of life, and from all across the political spectrum.
In that address, then-Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) referred to the “spin masters” and the “negative ad peddlers” who, he claimed, divided the country. And then he said to those offenders:
“Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states. … But I’ve got news for them, too: We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states, and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.”
This is the theme President Obama should repeat during his 2012 acceptance speech. He should commit to hitting the reset button and turning away from the “negative ad peddlers” who engage in personal attacks, and challenge Mitt Romney to do the same. And he should challenge Romney to debate the issues and propose specific solutions that can achieve bipartisan consensus.
He should acknowledge that Romney is a good man, a good father and husband and citizen, and that he is trying to do the right thing for the American people to solve our problems, albeit by a different approach.
Second, on the economy: Obama should admit that his policies have not worked as he had hoped — i.e., that unemployment remains at the same percentage, 8.3, in July 2012 as it was in February 2009. But then he should remind everyone about the Rule of Deep Holes: When you are in one, stop digging.
And that is what he has done: stopped digging.
When he entered office, the nation had lost over 8 million jobs over the previous 15 months, an average of 712,000 jobs per month from October 2008 to March 2009. Over the last four years, 4.3 million new private-sector jobs have been created. The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan and respected expert, has stated that but for his stimulus program, the economic situation would be worse today.
Obama would enhance his chances to win the crucial undecided independent vote by endorsing the bipartisan recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Commission — increasing revenues through closing tax loopholes, cutting spending and undertaking entitlement reform. This would be in contrast to Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who oppose Simpson-Bowles. (Indeed, Ryan was a member of the commission and voted against its bipartisan recommendations, despite the fact that his fellow conservative Republicans on the commission, Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho, supported them.)