Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Going off message

Rarely has President Truman's "Do Nothing Congress" phrase ever been as relevant as it has been today, however most Americans don't seem to understand that the President needs Congress to actually pass a law for him to sign. Given the amount of "Obama hasn't fixed the economy" complaints I hear each day, it's brutally obvious that most of the population has no clue that the executive branch doesn't write legislation, and can only encourage Congress to pass something from the White House's soapbox.

Given that, Romney has very much benefited by tossing out generalities to the crowd, not being specific, and framing the election not on issues, but primarily as a referendum on Obama. While that does the electorate a disservice (as those specifics and issues should completely dominate every single election), it's simply political reality.

Unfortunately, he went off message by picking Paul Ryan. The medicare argument has changed the election from the primary choice being a referendum on Obama's performance as president, but now the electorate has a stark choice when it comes to Medicare: one of the most popular programs in the history of the US.

By constantly railing on how Obama care cut $700 billion from Medicare two years ago, the GOP helped smash the Democrats in the mid-term elections. Now voters have the choice between the guy who cut Medicare and the guy who would gut Medicare.

How do you think that is going to play out with elderly voters? Ryan's latest plan keeps Medicare for folks who are currently 55 and above, but guess what? Don't those seniors have children and grandchildren? Ryan's plan is popular with conservatives, but frankly those people were already voting for Romney. He needs to win folks in the middle.

So, rather than picking a boring candidate (like white bread Pawlenty) or a bold candidate that could help cut into Obama's demographic strengths (like hispanic Rubio), he picked the guy who wrote a congressional budget that has extremely specific details in it to seriously contrast with Romney's empty generalities. Now Romney is now seriously tied to a specific plan that is unpopular to a large percentage of Americans, and the successful "referendum on Obama" message that has been presented to the independent voter is being replaced with a message that is deeply unpopular with non-conservative Americans.

By going off message, he's given Obama his best shot yet at recapturing Florida and winning that second term. It's certainly no done deal, but Romney really needs to stop handing Obama ammunition if he wants to actually win the election.

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