“Living By Biography”: Mitt Romney Blistered By Conservative Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
This Wall Street Journal editorial is getting a lot of attention this morning for its scathing criticism of the Romney campaign’s equivocations over whether Obamacare’s individual mandate is or isn’t a tax. Yesterday Romney declared that, yes, it is a tax after all — contradicting his campaign’s earlier contention that it wasn’t — and the editorial blasts Romney for squandering a key issue against Obama.
But let’s face it: The skirmishing over whether the mandate is or isn’t a tax probably won’t have much of an impact on the election’s outcome.
That’s why the real news in the Journal editorial — the stuff that should drive the discussion today — is its scalding attack on Romney’s lack of specificity on multiple issues:
The Romney campaign thinks it can play it safe and coast to the White House by saying the economy stinks and it’s Mr. Obama’s fault. We’re on its email list and the main daily message from the campaign is that “Obama isn’t working.” Thanks, guys, but Americans already know that. What they want to hear from the challenger is some understanding of why the President’s policies aren’t working and how Mr. Romney’s policies will do better.
The Journal notes the Obama campaign’s attacks on Romney’s Bain years and offshore accounts, and adds:
All of these attacks were predictable, in particular because they go to the heart of Mr. Romney’s main campaign theme — that he can create jobs as President because he is a successful businessman and manager. But candidates who live by biography typically lose by it. See President John Kerry.
The biography that voters care about is their own, and they want to know how a candidate is going to improve their future. That means offering a larger economic narrative and vision than Mr. Romney has so far provided. It means pointing out the differences with specificity on higher taxes, government-run health care, punitive regulation, and the waste of politically-driven government spending.
The GOP-aligned Journal editoral board is implicitly agreeing that one of the leading critiques of Romney —one being made by the Obama campaign and Dems, but also by more and more media commentators — is entirely legitimate: That he’s refusing to detail his policies with any specificity to speak of on issue after issue.
This goes right to the heart of the central dynamic of this race: The Romney campaign’s gamble that he can edge his way to victory by making this camapign all about Obama, and that along the way, voters won’t notice that he isn’t meaningfully telling us what he would do if elected president. The Journal is calling this out as a non-starter. Does this represent broader GOP establishment opinion? It’s more important than all the short-term skirmishing over whether the mandate is a tax or not.
By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, July 5, 2012