Friday, September 21, 2012

Charisma: The Primary Difference Between Ronald Reagan And Mitt Romney, And Why It Could Cost Romney The Election

Twice during my lifetime I have lived through the Administration of an absolutely incompetent President of the United States. From 1976-1980, we endured the administration of Jimmy Carter. His handover of the Panama Canal under duress and his gross mishandling of the Iran hostage crisis made me ashamed to be an American. In his defense, Carter was a decent human being who was clearly in over his head; his subsequent involvement with projects such as Habitat for Humanity illustrated his good nature.

In opposition arose Ronald Reagan. While Reagan was compassionate, he was also unflinching in his core principles and in his desire to defend America and restore hope. He proclaimed his presidency would be "morning in America" once again. To his reputation for competency as Governor of California he added a charisma which motivated millions of Americans and made them feel good about their country again. And it paid off; Reagan was elected in November 1980 and served two terms. To this day, many Republicans continue to promote Ronald Reagan as the definition of the ideal candidate.

History is repeating itself. For the past three years, we've endured the equally-incompetent administration of Barack Obama. Instead of uniting the country, he has divided it further, particularly along racial lines. Although Obama is bi-racial, he has repeatedly played the "Black" card, alienating Whites and, to a lesser degree, Asians. When Americans needed job recovery, Obama instead imposed a god-awful patchwork health care scheme known as Obamacare whose primary obvious purpose is to provide full employment and limitless profits for the insurance industry. In the Middle East, Obama got suckered by an "Arab Spring" which has been hijacked by Islamofascist terrorists bent upon restoring the regional Muslim caliphate which prevailed 1,300 years ago. Obama may yet prove to be a decent human being, but he's a bust as President so far.

So who have the Republicans put forth? Mitt Romney. On paper, Romney is one of the best-prepared Presidential candidates in history. His successful private sector leadership, punctuated by the dramatically successful turnaround of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, is an ideal prescription for our economic troubles. In addition, Romney's personal character is absolutely impeccable. One would think at this point Romney would be leading the failed Obama by as much as 10 percentage points in the polls. Yet it's a tossup between the two at this point.

What went wrong? A Mormon blogger, Denver Snuffer, seems to have captured the essence of Romney's problem:

In his first term, President Obama experimented with turning a soft hand to the Muslim world. It was something new. Although it failed, the virulent critics immediately labeled it "an apology tour." No one had any idea how the Cairo speech might move the Muslim hearts. Instead of condemning and even rooting for its failure, we should have prayed to God that our President would move the Muslim world. We should have asked God to soften the hearts of our enemies. We should asked God to embolden our friends. Instead we withheld our sustaining prayers, and in contempt, we let the matter proceed to its now complete failure.

Thinking upon the failure of that experiment, I recall how clearly Richard Nixon articulated, and Henry Kissinger elaborated, on the effective policy of projecting national strength to our enemies. Whatever terrible flaws Richard Nixon had, he was convinced to his core, and able to persuasively articulate the truth of national power in the international arena. After our national humiliation under Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan was elected in very large part because he could speak the principles of American power persuasively, convincingly, and from his heart.

Mitt Romney is unable to do this.

As I listen to Mitt Romney speak about any topic, principle, or true doctrine, he seems hollow. He sounds more like a spokesman for the opinions of others than a man speaking from his heart. He sounds like the chairman of a committee. He sounds like he is trying to use focus group phrases. He seems to be using the results of opinion polls to formulate his public statements. In short, he seems more like an artificial life form then a principled, true-hearted, complete convert to God given truths, proven economic doctrines, and historically successful foreign policy.

Key words are "hollow" and "artificial life form". Unlike Reagan, Mitt Romney seems incapable of generating any groundswell of popular emotion. In short, Romney doesn't know how to light up a scoreboard. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a running mate who compensates effectively for that lack. Paul Ryan is a bright young Congressman who has a reputation as an economic whiz. Yet when he addressed an AARP group and said the Romney team would get rid of Obamacare, he got booed.

What Romney needed was a cheerleader on the ticket like Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin to provide the fireworks. Both have their problems, but few people are neutral about them. They either love them -- or hate them -- but they're not indifferent.

Mitt Romney can still pull this out. But he's going to have to start taking some risks. That means stop going for three yards and a cloud of dust, and take to the air once in a while. For example, Romney is NOT going to get the Black vote -- he can give up on that right now. Romney will also not do very well with the Hispanic vote -- he shouldn't devote too much time on that, either.

What Romney needs to do is go for the White vote -- without making it explicit. When he condemns the Confederate battle flag, he sounds no different than Obama, and also offends many Southern White voters. Voters don't want a choice between Obama Left and Obama Right -- they want a choice between Obama and a Republican. And considering that Obama now has a toxic relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this election represents the best chance in years that a Republican candidate has had to wean the Jewish vote away from a Democrat. A Jewish vote is more than just a vote; Jewish tribalism, Jewish domination of the mass media and entertainment industry, and Jewish lobby groups like AIPAC amplify the value of the Jewish vote.

Time for Mitt to quit playing defense and start playing offense.


  1. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence
    clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them
    imaginary. – H. L. Mencken

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