Jun 21 2012



Commentator and author Robert Shrum writing from his new home at The Daily Beast makes a compelling case that Romney's campaign is very similar to the 1948 losing Presidential campaign of Republican Thomas E. Dewey. Who can forget the headlines from that election night "Dewey Defeats Truman"! However, as Shrum points out, it is less a headline and more of a personal style of campaigning where the two become twin brothers. In the article he writes:

Dewey exercised a similar caution in 1948. While Truman was delivering tough talk on big issues—the minimum wage, medical care for the elderly, “the do-nothing-80th Congress—Dewey evaded them. Instead he delivered a major address on water, offering up this compelling thought: “We must…use the water we have wisely and well.”

Romney recoils from questions about his record at Bain, brushing them off with a token nonreply and swiftly pivoting back to referendum.

Maybe the stiff Mitt aptly fits Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s description of Dewey as “the little man on the wedding cake.” But with the postprimary Romney, the resemblance is more than icing deep. He has a 59-point economic agenda—59 points—so many that voters can’t grasp any central, driving idea beyond his spurious, biographical claim that he is a job creator. He doesn’t want them to: he aims to give the Republican right its due—a tax cut that primarily comforts the comfortable—without having to argue the point with Obama. His campaign flacked a hallmark education speech in which the hallmark proposal was vouchers, but determined to avoid contention, Romney never even mentioned the word.

Shrum writes that Romney is on the losing side of nearly all the major issues and has to count on an anti-Obama campaign (paid for in cash by the Super PACS).

His campaign treats other challenges as a brief detour or as background noise. The candidate recoils from questions about his record at Bain, brushing them off with a token nonreply and swiftly pivoting back to referendum. His first attack ad of the general election exploited Obama’s awkward if arguably accurate comment that the private section was “doing fine.” The president meant it was contributing to recovery—to the tune of more than 4 million new jobs. But in politics, when you have to talk about what you meant, it means trouble. The Romney ad makers tore the remark out of context to push their construct of the race: Obama “has had three and a half years. And talk is cheap … if you want to see the result of his economic policies, look around.” Dewey, whose referendum asked who was more presidential, couldn’t have put this latter-day referendum any more plainly.

Romney’s correct that he probably can’t survive a contest focused on his opposition to rescuing the auto industry, his self-enriching job destruction in the private sector, or a GOP House of Representatives that has blocked bill after bill to spur growth. He’s on the losing side on whether the top 1 percent should pay their share of taxes—and whether Medicare should be privatized. But as Dewey learned, the flight from specifics—a single-toned call to a plebiscite on the incumbent or the country’s condition—can be perilous. Truman forced the cutting-edge issues to the forefront. And he started with an acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, which bluntly proclaimed, “The Republican Party favors the privileged few and not the common, everyday man.”

This year, as summer wanes, watch the two acceptance speeches to see the struggle, the decisive struggle, to mark out the ground of decision on 2012."