Robert Gibbs, in full spin mode, declared the first night of the Republican National Convention a “very angry convention full of insults.” As with most of what comes out of Gibbs’s mouth, it was about as far from the truth as one could get. Ann Romney, whose speech was the most touted of all given last night, is perhaps the least-angry person in politics these days.
Moreover, the word “insults” is rather jaw-dropping. The Obama team has called Romney a felon, accused him of murder and waged a campaign almost entirely on running down Romney, as a person. By contrast, last night was a critique of the results of Obama’s policies. Oh yes, and it was a lot of quoting, requoting and then some more quoting of the president. It was President Obama’s own words — the recovery hit “some bumps in the road,” the private sector is “doing fine” and. most of all, “you didn’t build that” that rang again and again throughout the evening.
You do have to wonder, though, how insulting will be the Democratic National Convention. The gang that brought us the “war on women” and tried to Akinize Mitt Romney is not shy about throwing around invectives.
Moreover, the Obama team finds itself low on substance, in part because the usual space fillers for a presidential incumbent (the economy, the popularity of his legislative highlight) are off bounds for this administration. Moreover, the peculiar lack of big ideas and compelling policy initiatives (hiring more teachers?!) leaves a gap in content between Obama and Romney. The media are rightly concerned about getting as much detail as possible from Romney. That is what a campaign is about, and it’s the legitimate fact-finding function of the media. So here are some topics that I hope Obama will address and on which the media should press for firm, specific policy declarations:
1. Beyond his unilateral action on immigration, what specifically will he recommend with regard to comprehensive immigration reform?
2. Other than letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the top income bracket and enacting the Buffett tax, how specifically will he reform the individual tax code?
3. Under his presidency, the share of GDP devoted to the federal government has grown to 24 percent or so. Is that going to be a permanent feature?
4. What is his plan preserving Medicare solvency for the long term?
5. What is his solution to the fiscal cliff and when should we move to head it off?
6. How in particular would he preserve Social Security’s solvency?
7. What sacrifices if any would he ask of seniors toward solving our fiscal problems?
8. Is there any department or agency of government that could be eliminated or sent to the states? Which one(s)?
9. The current cost estimates for Obamacare greatly exceed what was initially anticipated. What will he do to make certain “not a dime” is added to the deficit?
10. At the Holocaust Memorial this year he said he would do everything possible to end the carnage in Syria. What has he done toward that end, and since it hasn’t worked, what will he do?