The conservative newspaper “Wall Street Journal” recently faulted Mitt Romney for fumbling the ball on “Obamacare,” calling him “dumb” and insisting that his waffling on whether the mandate is a tax or a penalty may end up costing him the White House. They also faulted him for taking an expensive vacation at a key moment in this important race. Poor Mitt can’t win for losing.
A recent article on Huffington Post summarized the Wall Street op-ed piece and also noted that Mitt’s overall strategy is to repeatedly point to the sitting president’ failure to solve America’s economic woes. Specifically, the article says Romney’s campaign strategy so far has been to pivot all points of discussion to Obama’s failed economic record, but according to the Journal, voters would benefit from actually learning why Romney’s policies would fare any better — something his campaign has yet to elaborate on.
I am not a political strategist, but it does seem to me that voters in this country find a willingness to change one’s mind in the face of new facts a serious character flaw. As a general rule, I would not fault Romney for changing his mind unless he did it for purely political reasons — which is assuredly the case here. But then apparently I am more tolerant than most. Voters faulted George McGovern for changing his mind about Thomas Eagleton in 1972, a decision that critics said virtually assured Richard Nixon’s victory. In any event, the pattern has been fairly clear since that time: be consistent even if you are consistently wrong. Voters admire a man or woman who “sticks by their guns” even if the path they have chosen is stupid and possibly treacherous — witness George W. Bush and the “weapons of mass destruction” (which some people still think are hidden somewhere in Iraq). But I suspect voters will soon forget that Mitt has done an about-face on the mandate, that he may have fumbled the ball, because he and his team will divert their attention elsewhere.
Romney’s strategy is to simply say nothing until his opponent opens his mouth, or keep pointing an angry finger at the economy while he repeatedly insists it’s all Obama’s fault. This may in fact be a politically wise course to take, given past elections. If we have learned anything, we have learned that if a thing is repeated often enough, people will believe it. It doesn’t matter if what is repeated is right or wrong, true or false, no one will take the time to check. If they hear is often enough, it is as though it were carved in stone.
So we had best prepare ourselves for the endless repetition of the mantra: Obama is to blame for the retched economy….and he wants to raise your taxes. It will be repeated ad nauseam. In the meantime, Mitt has joined his fellows on the Republican band wagon and now insists that the mandate is a tax (which Obama has foisted on the American people) and we will soon forget that he ever thought otherwise. All we will hear is how the sitting President is to blame for the poor economy and for the thousands of Americans being out of work — though, as the above quote suggests, we should not expect this candidate to provide us with a program of his own or convince us how he would have acted other than Obama has acted — given the mess he inherited.