When you get beyond the bellicose political arguments of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, you are left looking at each man’s accomplishments. In a well-reasoned and written opinion piece, the Salt Lake Tribune (SLT) looked at each Presidential candidate’s record and ended up rejecting their favorite son, Mitt Romney, for Barack Obama for another term. Not only did the newspaper reject Mitt, but they were poetic in making the case for supporting the president over the man who supposedly “rescued” the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.
Like the SLT editorial, I too figured Mitt Romney would bring all his accomplishments and statesmanship to the campaign in a professional business-like manner. SLT describes the allure of Romney:
[H]is adeptly bipartisan governorship of a Democratic state, and his head for business and the bottom line all inspire admiration and hope in our largely Mormon, Republican, business-friendly state.
But it was Romney’s singular role in rescuing Utah’s organization of the 2002 Olympics from a cesspool of scandal, and his oversight of the most successful Winter Games on record, that make him the Beehive State’s favorite adopted son.
After the Republican Primaries, I took a fresh look at a man that seemed to have a firm foundation in life and successful business record. All through September I kept waiting for Romney to bring his “A” game to the campaign. Instead of watching a successful CEO of a multi-national company, I found Mitt Romney inextricably tethered to the Tea Party of the GOP. Where was the Mitt I heard so much about? SLT writes:
From his embrace of the party’s radical right wing, to subsequent portrayals of himself as a moderate champion of the middle class, Romney has raised the most frequently asked question of the campaign: “Who is this guy, really, and what in the world does he truly believe?”
Where, we ask, is the pragmatic, inclusive Romney, the Massachusetts governor who left the state with a model health care plan in place, the Romney who led Utah to Olympic glory? That Romney skedaddled and is nowhere to be found.
The image of the historic Romney is at odds with the Mitt I hear and read about. I could respect President George Herbert Walker Bush because he took a position, had a plan and stuck to it. I may not have liked the position or the plan, but at least Bush I connected the dots of his programs with pragmatic logic. As the SLT points out, Romney’s plans aren’t adding up:
More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs. To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.
Show me the plan. Connect the dots. Do the math.
Here is a newspaper from Utah that is dying to give Romney the endorsement and Mitt can’t deliver the goods. Even if Romney had sketched out a loosely plausible budget-balancing and debt-reducing plan, the SLT would have endorsed him. But they can see that he doesn’t have one.
So why would the SLT endorse a Democrat over Republican. From a business perspective, they know what they are getting with President Obama. The President really hasn’t made any bold moves to change the business landscape in the U.S. Because Romney can’t select whether he is a
conservative or a moderate, the fear of the unknown may be driving the SLT:
And what of the president Romney would replace? For four years, President Barack Obama has attempted, with varying degrees of success, to pull the nation out of its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a deepening crisis he inherited the day he took office.
SLT also gives faint praise for President Obama’s health care initiative while acknowledging the political capital it cost him:
Obama’s most noteworthy achievement, passage of his signature Affordable Care Act, also proved, in its timing, his greatest blunder. The set of comprehensive health insurance reforms aimed at extending health care coverage to all Americans was signed 14 months into his term after a ferocious fight in Congress that sapped the new president’s political capital and destroyed any chance for bipartisan cooperation on the shredded economy.
From a conservative perspective, having the congress in gridlock precluded Obama from moving any other liberal initiatives forward, even if it did slow down congressional efforts at job creation. The SLT gives The President high marks on foreign policy but continues to cling to Fox News conspiracies on the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya:
The glaring exception, still unfolding, was the administration’s failure to protect the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, and to quickly come clean about it.
The endorsement of the SLT was Romney’s to lose. All he had to do was show up with a plan and be a consistent candidate. It’s not that they don’t like Mitt Romney, the SLT is concerned over who will really be running the White House if Romney is elected:
In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.
The newspaper’s harshest rejection of Romney, and their clear support for Obama, came in the closing paragraph of the editorial (emphasis added):
Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day.
The president has earned a second term.
Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.
Mitt’s campaign should view this as a failure in marketing and candidate development. At this late date, there is probably little the Romney-Ryan campaign can do to massage Mitt back into a favorable image that pragmatic liberals and conservatives can embrace. Romney, who once had a rudder on his sailing ship of life, seems to be drifting aimlessly, beckoning to any Tea Party island that might rescue him.