A couple of days ago, I asked you all to make your predictions about the upcoming election. Your responses ranged from a belief that Romney will win a clear victory, to a belief that Romney will win a squeaker because of entrenched interests and voter fraud, to a belief that those same entrenched interests and voter fraud will propel Obama to another four year term. I think each one of you has the potential to be right.
However, for sleeping peacefully at night, I should have asked Paul Rahe this question. Fortunately for me, Rahe didn’t wait for me to ask (he doesn’t know I exist), but simply tackled the subject on his own. He believes that Romney will have an overwhelming victory in November. Although he respects those conservative pundits who predict a squeaker (or worse) he says that he believes that they are operating within an outdated paradigm, much as happened when serious thinkers entirely missed the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Rahe thinks that the outliers — i.e., the optimists — are the ones on track, because they are the ones who appreciate that this is not an ordinary election, because Obama was not an ordinary candidate, especially during his first two years, when he had a Congressional majority. For the first time, voters have seen the socialist behind the curtain, and the response was Tea Parties, 2010 election sweeps, and lines at Chick-Fil-A. Those of us closely tracking the news may be missing the fact that ordinary men and women do not like what the Democrat party has become.
The election, then, is Romney’s to lose. What would be nice, though, is if Romney won the election, not just by a hair (because he failed to lose it), but by a wide, spectacular margin, one that completely repudiates both the creeping Leftism that began in the 1960s and accelerated thereafter, as well as the blatant Leftism that let out a terrible roar in 2008. To that end, Rahe offers Romney some advice, all of it good, and most of it involving Romney playing offense, not defense:
If Romney wants to win really, really big, there are three things that he needs to do. First, he needs to tie his argument for paring back the administrative entitlements state back to first principles – back to the origins and purpose of government – and he needs to assert the necessity to return to limited government. What I am saying here is that he needs to occupy the moral high ground, to defend free enterprise not only as efficient but as right and just, and to criticize “spreading the wealth around” and taking from Peter to pay Paul as shameful and unjust. Politics is ultimately about justice, and justice should be his theme.
Second, he needs to force Obama to make errors. To this end, he needs to get under the President’s skin. He did this to Newt Gingrich in Florida, and it worked like a charm. Obama is even vainer than Newt, and he cannot stand mockery. Moreover, he hates Romney with all the resentment that phony intellectuals ordinarily harbor for successful businessmen. The gentler the mockery in this case, the lighter the touch, the more devastating it will be. Romney’s theme should be that the poor fellow is just not up to the job and that he should be left free to spend all of his time doing what he really enjoys — playing golf. The SuperPACs may be able to carry the ball on this.
Third, when the debates come, he should do a Newt Gingrich. When one of the pundits asks a really stupid question that is of interest only to the credentialed elite (and this is inevitable), he should disembowel the man, asking him how he could waste the time of the American people on a matter of this sort when we are on the verge of a second recession and millions are looking for work. In the debates, the trick is to show strength – and nothing shows strength like a dramatic gesture of this sort. He might even find an opportunity to do this to Obama himself. It would be a knock-out blow. At some point, Romney needs to set aside his natural caution and timidity and go for the jugular.
I actually thinking Romney is capable of doing all of the above. While he is undoubtedly a very nice man, he’s shown in the business world and in the political arena, that he will indeed go for the jugular. My only real concern is that the stakes are so big that Romney will panic and play it safe. I can only hope that his life experience will assure him that this is not the time to be a wimp.