So the Americans that survived Valley Forge and stormed the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima have gotten so soft that the mere threat of heavy rain is enough to cancel an entire day of a national political convention.
Here is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, on “Fox News Sunday,” explaining the decision to call off Monday’s program at the Republican National Convention in Tampa: “the Secret Service took down the tents out in front of the forum. People would be standing in line in driving rain.”
My goodness. Have the Republicans not heard of raincoats? Umbrellas? If a mere tropical storm hundreds of miles away is enough to send Republicans running for cover, imagine how the Grand Old Party would deal with a genuine threat, like a major terrorist attack, war, or a federal fiscal crisis.
Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills fans regularly watch football games outside in snowstorms and freezing temperatures. Yet for a historically significant moment in an election to defend the free enterprise system and turn back a vast expansion of government spending and power that has mired America in economic stagnation, the Republicans won’t even brave raindrops on the doorstep to an indoor arena?
A charitable interpretation is that this is a secret stroke of strategic genius by Republican operatives who realized that they were not going to help their party’s electoral chances by interrupting regularly scheduled network programming to broadcast speeches by a bunch of politicians who were also-rans in the vice-presidential contest.
For better or worse, the party’s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is finding ways to tell us about himself and his plans for the country even if his fellow Republicans aren’t willing to risk getting damp to hear about it.
So the Romney campaign Web site on Sunday featured a note from WMR himself that concluded with the less-than-rousing line, “It's time for the American middle class to have an unwavering champion in the White House.” He sounds like Senator Schumer with this “middle class” stuff. Since when did Americans divide ourselves up into classes? I’d happily settle for a president who championed freedom and economic growth and let the Marxists, Democrats, and college professors handle the class warfare.
And on the same “Fox News Sunday” show on which Priebus justified his surrender to the prediction of raindrops, Romney faulted President Obama for “the way the president cut Medicare, $716 billion for current retirees.” In fact these are future promised cuts against ten years worth of inflated baselines. Medicare spending has gone up every year of the Obama administration.
Romney went on, “one thing is for sure, putting money back into Medicare helps it, it doesn't hurt it.” Here Romney is campaigning on the promise to spend more on Medicare than Obama would. And he’s defining his choice not on the basis of what is best for the country or for the health of American seniors, but what’s best for Medicare. Imagine if, at Bain Capital, Romney had tried to launch Staples with the theory that it would help your company spend more money on office supplies than the competition.
Finally, in the same interview, Romney said he’d prefer if the presidential campaigns had less money to spend on informing voters about the choices in front of them in November. “I would far rather have a setting where we had both agreed to the federal spending limits,” Romney told Chris Wallace. “Look, what—what he's done has meant that both of us have to spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising. We can't spend as much time on the campaign trail. And, frankly, it increases the potential of money having influence in politics.” The last Republican who ran against Obama on a campaign-finance-reform (or, more accurately, campaign speech limitation) platform was Senator McCain, and we know how that turned out for McCain.
In another interview, this one with Politico, Romney claimed that Obama “got every piece of legislation he wanted passed.” Not so; Obama wanted a cap-and-trade law to curb global warming, he wanted legislation to legalize certain illegal immigrants, and he wanted to repeal some of the Bush tax cuts on upper-income individuals, but he could not get any of that through Congress.
In the same Politico interview, Romney is paraphrased as saying he would “treat his cabinet like a board of directors.” One significant difference Romney apparently did not mention is that a CEO works for and is hired by the board of directors, while the cabinet works for and is chosen by the president. Another is that the cabinet has nearly two dozen members, which is so large as to be nearly unwieldy for a corporate board. Anyway, whatever the case is for replacing Obama, his poor use of his cabinet probably isn’t at the center of it.
Some of Romney’s campaign rhetoric, alas, isn’t worth risking a mild suntan for, let alone raindrops. It’ll be a successful convention for the Republicans if by the end of it voters aren’t hoping that the presidential debates get rained out, too.