Running On Empty

The trap was set. Walter Mondale was debating President Ronald Reagan who was running for a second term. Mr. Mondale looked into the camera and said that both he and President Reagan knew that taxes had to be raised, but that only he had the courage to tell the truth to the American people.

President Reagan took the bait. He couldn’t wait to deliver his famous line, “There you go again”. But Mondale was ready. He noted that the first time Mr. Reagan delivered that line, then President, Jimmy Carter had been right. Reagan did attempt to cut Medicare once elected. And Mondale was certain that he, too, had cornered the market on truth.

Astute political observers came away from this exchange with two important insights:

  1. The Democratic nominee, Walter Mondale, was absolutely right.
  2. There was never going to be a President Walter Mondale.

It is really difficult to win an election when all you’ve got are facts. Don’t believe me? Ask President Kerry.

President Barack Obama launched his reelection campaign last Saturday afternoon. He and the First Lady wowed a crowd of about 14,000 at OSU’s Schottenstein Center. MSNBC broadcasted the entire introduction from Mrs. Obama and the President’s new stump speech. CNN showed the into and most of the President’s speech. I wanted to watch this on FOX. I got to see the start of Mr. Obama’s speech, but certainly not all of it. The crowd was too hot, too engaged, so FOX went back to the studio to give us another interview with yet another middle-aged white guy who was there to tell us that there is a whole lot less excitement on college campuses.

Ignore what you are seeing. Trust us, our guy is just as loved and respected.

My Republican friends may have wanted someone else such as Gingrich or Santorum or whoever, but they’ve got Mitt Romney. My Republican friends may not love Mitt Romney, but they hate Barack Obama. Why? Got an hour or two? My guys will fill that time and beg for more. And though I generally don’t agree with these guys, I have to admit to being disappointed and frustrated by some of the President’s programs and policies.

My personal frustration does not cloud my judgment. I am positive that Barack Obama will be reelected. Why? Because you can’t beat something with nothing.

Take Saturday’s speech. Mr. Romney couldn’t deliver that speech, that seemingly effortless 36 minutes of human interaction, if he shut down his campaign and practiced daily till October. It’s just not in him.

Not that Mr. Romney would qualify, but we are not electing our most successful businessman. We are not electing the smartest American or our most talented technocrat. We are electing a president. And we want our presidents to be so much more.

The great American myth, the one that we were told again and again as children, was that in America any boy could grow up to be president. That has been amended to now be any boy or girl. Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush made that seem almost possible. Barack Obama proved it.

Do your kids want to be Mitt Romney? More importantly, would the Mitt Romney circa 1994 want to be the coreless Mitt Romney running for office today?