There has been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney’s message, whether it is too moderate for the Republican primary and whether he can make it appealing to swing voters in general election states. But what is President Obama’s message, and whom will it reach?
We already know that the ballast of his campaign is negativity. Romney is too rich. Republicans want to give tax breaks to the rich. Republican want to take away grandma’s Medicare. Republicans wanted the car companies to go under. Some of it is preposterous, other parts are shopworn. But what is Obama’s message?
He better be careful over the next couple of months citing Obamacare as his signature achievement. If it goes “poof,” he will, as Molly Ball explains, need to explain to devastated Democrats how he frittered away four year on nothing (“a stinging rejection of the president’s agenda and proof that Obama — a former constitutional law professor — doesn’t understand or respect the Constitution, a cherished belief of the Tea Party”). And while he claims there is no Plan B, he better come up with one, or it will be the Republicans who have the only health-care plan. (“Obama would have to come up with an argument for some kind of fix that wasn’t the one he’d already tried to enact and seen shot down by the court”).
But with or without Obamacare (or part of Obamacare) what else is he running on? We’re going to continue not addressing entitlements. Not very compelling. We’re going to keep slashing defenses. Not very popular with our troops on multiple deployments and their families and open to the claim that he is letting China, Russia and Iran run amok. We’re going to keep missing opportunities (as in Egypt, Iran and Syria) to really aid in promotion of freedom and human rights. It would be honest but a far cry from “hope and change.”
He will have had four years to get the economy up off the mat, so what program or approach will he suggest that hasn’t been tried and/or rejected already?
Truth be told, second terms are hard and often suffer from agenda exhaustion. But at least President George W. Bush championed Social Security reform and gave immigration reform his all. We haven’t heard Obama’s plans for immigration or for Social Security.
Here is where the mainstream media really have fallen down on the job. Where are the evaluations of his 2008 campaign promises? No analysis of the amount of debt racked up in his term? Why isn’t he grilled as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was on his budget plan? After all, it lost 414-0 in the House.
Without Obamacare the president is reduced to arguing that as anemic as the recovery is, it would have been worse without racking up all that debt. It hardly passes the straight-face test.
The potential eradication of Obamacare has highlighted how meager are Obama’s achievements and how lacking in vision his campaign is. Without a single other significant domestic accomplishment, a national security record that (aside from killing Osama bin Laden) is between mediocre and horrible and no definitive agenda for the next four years, what is he going to run on? How awful he thinks Romney will be for the country? It’s deeply cynical and negative. All the more reason for Romney to be about hope and change.