Mitt’s Off: Stop conceding the character issue
By: Daniel Clark
You’ve surely heard by now that President Obama is really a nice guy. It isn’t true, of course, but you’ve surely heard it. That’s because Mitt Romney’s strategy, such as it is, has been to criticize Obama’s policies, while refusing to question his character.
That’s the wrong approach to take, for reasons that political pundits might find quaint, or even sappy. Contrary to the prevailing cynicism, not all politicians are dishonest, and truthfulness is a quality that Romney’s conservative base has come to expect of him. This poll-tested concession that Obama is “a nice guy” is one instance in which he is failing them, and they know it.
Barack Obama’s persona has saturated America’s consciousness since his 2007 primary race, and we have yet to see any evidence of this alleged niceness of his. Geraldo Rivera could search the vault inside Obama’s heart looking for it, and the results wouldn’t turn out any better than usual.
John McCain assumed that Obama was a nice guy, to the point where he chastised those of his own supporters who said otherwise. Not only didn’t this help him in the election, but neither did it spare him a barb from the prickly president during the “health care summit.” McCain had calmly raised an objection to the special deals that had been made with particular states in order to pass the law. Obama’s response: “Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore. The election’s over.” Can you imagine President George W. Bush scolding Senator John Kerry that way after defeating him in 2004? Didn’t think so.
Maybe Romney thinks a little hardball is fair game between political adversaries, but what about the people who are supposed to be our friends? In less than four years, Obama has given the back of his hand to Great Britain, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, South Carolina, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Catholic Church. Who’s next on his enemies list, the Elks Club?
To be fair, Obama isn’t always obnoxious. Sometimes he’s just plain cold. Recently, he referred to the murders of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya as “bumps in the road” toward the fruition of the “Arab Spring.” One’s natural reaction would be to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’d simply misspoken, except that it’s far from an isolated case. One of several other examples was an interview with Bob Woodward, in which he said, “We can absorb another terrorist attack” like 9-11. Sure, we can handle the murder of another 3,000 innocent people in one of the most horrific scenes ever recorded. Stuff happens, you know.
This callousness extends to his economic policy as well. During the 2008 campaign, Obama acknowledged that, “under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Yet he tried to inflict this economic harm during what he said was already the worst economy since the Great Depression. He’s even stated that his policy is to drive the coal industry into bankruptcy. Try finding the niceness in that.
A nice guy does not identify with the destructive, America-hating Occupy movement. A nice guy does not adopt as a father figure a hate-filled Marxist preacher who curses America from the pulpit. A nice guy doesn’t collaborate on education projects with Weather Underground founder, terrorist bomber and “respected professor” Bill Ayers, who once advised America’s youth to “bring the revolution home. Kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at.”
Romney has a duty to be honest about Obama’s character, because that’s what shapes his collectivist philosophy. Obama strives to make as many people dependent on government as possible. He encourages people to perceive themselves as being trapped in fixed socioeconomic classes, from which they can only attain “justice” by tearing down the people above them. He often speaks of nebulous, unwritten social contracts, to which individual rights to life, liberty and property must be subordinated. In more American times, a person like that would have been called a scoundrel, and not even a nice scoundrel at that.
By portraying Obama as a well-meaning incompetent, Romney excuses him of this wicked philosophy, and by extension of the policies that arise from it. Voters who believe him are likely to say, let’s give Obama another chance. At least we know he means well. Romney, on the other hand, is a dog-torturing tax evader who causes women to die of cancer. Mr. Nice Guy told us so.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.