I understand the economy is a big deal. OK, huge deal. As a result, the Romney machine has outlined the distinction between Romney as businessman and Obama as not. I get it. But for Romney to win the election he must be more than a businessman. The Romney campaign’s obsession with his business background strikes me as shortsighted. For those of us in the know, Romney is no conservative. He has used mandates, expanded government and increased fees and taxes in the past. In fact, there are enough similarities between Romney and Obama to make the hair stand up on the back of our neck. For those that aren’t in the know, they will be, you can bet lame-stream media will see to that. And with monikers like Obama-lite and Mittrack Obamney already dancing in blog headlines, it’s going to be quick.
It seems to me that by relying on this distinction between himself and Obama, Romney is painting himself in a corner. If the economy remains poor, or unemployment increases, then Obama gets bad grades for that and takes the hit. Thus, Romney doesn’t need to be the successful businessman, he can be just a former governor seeking the presidency. But what if the economy improves between now and election time? What if unemployment goes down?
The truth is, even small increases in economic output or small decreases in unemployment will be a win for Obama. Sure, Romney can argue until he’s blue-in-the-face that the numbers are (wherever they are at that point) still too negative. But that allows Obama to easily counter that there has been improvement. And how does Romney respond that? By predicting things will get worse? I don’t really do fortune-tellers, do you? The fact is, to maintain credibility, all Romney can do is repeat that the numbers, currently and over the span of Obama’s presidency, are still too negative. And to that, Obama again states they are improving and then turns to the camera and politely asks the American folks for more time. For Romney, this type of exchange is, at best a push, at worst…(shudder).
Additionally, we’ve already seen the chipping away of Romney’s persona begin as the Obama-chine demonizes big-business. How many speeches has Obama labeled wall street or big banks or “fat-cats” as greedy cheaters that are bad for America? How many times has Obama implied that the economic woes we currently face are in part, the result of the rich being the rich? It’s a ridiculously thin proposition but, remember, it’s aimed at the sleep-walkers and unfortunately, it works. These folks aren’t going to patiently listen to Romney try to outline specific policies and percentages that are harmful to the economy. These folks read headlines only. They rely on sound-bites and chit-chat from people in their lives for their perspective. They don’t research and validate. Isn’t Romney walking right into the trap? Romney as businessman has already hurt him with simple claims that he, as a CEO, broke-down or closed companies, laid folks off, improved his status at the expense of others. In short, Romney fits the “businessman as demon” character perfectly. And yet, he continues to highlight this. No, to me this positioning is of limited value.
I claim no expertise regarding campaign management and based upon the steady victories, the handlers must be doing something right. Yet, perhaps that actually further supports my concern. Are they too complacent? The truth is, he has become very easy to label. On the street and in the pubs he’s either the “Romney-care” guy or he’s the “wall street” guy. From what I know about the way much of our population thinks, both labels are a detriment. Isn’t it time, now that he is on a roll, to introduce a new component to the presidential candidate’s personality? Isn’t it time to introduce other issues that he can crusade against? Perhaps he can start emphasizing as President he’ll take on the Fed, the EPA, the UN, public schooling, Dodd-Frank, the recently passed NDAA? Something. Anything. Lord knows there are plenty of policies he can demonize that will allow him to transform himself into the hero that will fight the injustice.
At this point, Romney’s campaign leaves me scratching my head. To me, relying on this one-dimensional “successful businessman” identity seems flawed. His continued pledges to get the economy going are getting stale and, perhaps more importantly, used by everyone, including Obama. And even if I’m wrong, why risk it? There are eight months to the election, that offers plenty of opportunity to introduce and develop multiple crusader personalities and the related causes. Keep the ones that work, discard the rest. Successful business people develop multiple income streams. I think it’s time for Romney’s campaign to start developing multiple causes before he finds the election defined as Obama vs. Obama-lite.