The post mortems on the presidential campaign continue to pour in, the ones on the botched Romney effort the more interesting (and more depressing for those of us who supported him). President Obama was clearly vulnerable and Mitt Romney clearly positioned to defeat him.
So what went wrong? Let me add my analysis. Three words: Message. Messenger. Messaging.
The messenger was flawed, unwilling to take risks, unprepared for the Obama political wrecking machine, left dazed and confused Election Night.
If inept messaging could be deemed a felony, this campaign was a crime against humanity. I've never seen worse commercials more badly placed on the wrong media than this. In Virginia we had to suffer through ten gazillion TV ads attacking China for stealing American technology. China?
More can and should be written about the messenger and his messaging, but let's concentrate on his message. Or the lack thereof, which was the fatal problem.
The message was there, in black and white. If only Mitt Romney had embraced Reagan's vision and philosophy and record and pitted it against Obama's on all counts.
Our Commander-In-Chief has spent four years wah-wah whining about the economic problems left to him by Bush 43, consistently labeling it the “worst recession since the Great Depression,” which clearly it wasn't.
You want a nightmare to inherit? Try an economy with interest rates in double digits; inflation over 20%; unemployment skyrocketing, eventually peaking at 10.8%; gas lines blocks long and a predecessor declaring we live in a “malaise” at home, while abroad our hostages are the personification of America, ridiculed. That's what Reagan was handed.
Reagan spent no time blaming Jimmy Carter. Brimming with optimism he went to work immediately fixing the problem. He slashed taxes across the board, and lifted the yoke of crippling regulations from entire sectors of the economy. Domestic spending was kept under control and federalism extolled. Minimum federal oversight, maximum individual freedom and responsibility – that was his clarion call.
By the end of his first term the economy was roaring at 6.3%, unemployment was down to 7.3% (and would drop further, to 5%), inflation and interest rates were under control, and America was on her way to 92 consecutive months of economic growth, the greatest peacetime economic expansion in American history.
Obama? He did the opposite, growing only the federal leviathan while wasting literally trillions of taxpayers' dollars on "stimulus" programs that stimulated only his supporters; abducting entire industries with promises that would never be kept, while running trillion dollar annual deficits he cannot repay. Unemployment remains unchanged, the annual rate of growth is at 2.1% and slowing. The public mood is despondent. It's a mess, and the mess is his.
Reagan increased defense spending to rebuild our military decimated by the Left during the Carter years, which he needed to do in order to defeat and dismantle the Soviet Union without firing a shot, and which achievement alone merits his likeness on Mount Rushmore. American exceptionalism was championed. Patriotism was brimming.
Obama has consistently cut our defense capabilities to the point we can no longer fight two wars simultaneously, the imperative of military strategic planning. We face another $500 billion cut under sequestration which will devastate us. American embassies and consulates are being attacked, our ambassadors and staff threatened or killed, and our foreign policy is an incoherent mess. American exceptionalism has been abandoned.
But Ronald Reagan was about more than economics and peace through strength. He believed in individual freedom and responsibility, yes. But he also believed in a virtuous society and openly championed it, constantly extolling the importance of the nuclear family and the sanctity of human life. He publicly invoked God, and publicly prayed to God. He called on Americans to honor the Ten Commandments. Can you imagine any of this happening today?
I write all this on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The what you say? Yes, you heard me correctly. You see, “Transgender Day of Remembrance is commemorated each year on November 20th, to memorialize those we have lost as a result of hate and violence all too often faced by transgender people.”
Who am I quoting, you ask? It must be some extremist nut job, you say. Actually, that's true, but let me continue. “I invite you to the Secretary's Conference Room... for a special discussion with three transgender appointees doing tremendous [sic] throughout the Administration. Deputy Chief of Staff Mary Beth Maxwell will moderate an interactive discussion with Chloe Schwenke, U.S. Agency for International Development, Amanda Simpson, U.S. Department of Defense and our own Dylan Orr, Office of Disability Employment, U.S. Department of Labor.” The memo is signed by one Ana M. Ma, Chief of Staff at Barack Obama's Department of Labor.
It was all such low hanging fruit for Mitt Romney.