Flipping through the teevee channels just now, I caught sight of Mitt Romney speaking to a crowd about Obama's acceptance speech (which the governor says he read but did not watch). As one might have predicted, Romney slammed the President for not offering any specific plans for the future -- a charge that can fairly be leveled at both
candidates. Romney also stressed our continuing high unemployment figures, as well as the cost of the stimulus.
Obama should have addressed all of these points in his speech. Michael Tomasky
offered this response:
"Let’s be blunt. Barack Obama gave a dull and pedestrian speech tonight, with nary an interesting thematic device, policy detail, or even one turn of phrase...”
Why the hell didn't Obama take the opportunity to drive home the message that the stimulus package was, to a large extent, devoted to tax cuts for the non-wealthy?
Most of those who benefited from those cuts don't even realize that the cuts existed. In fact, quite a few ninnies have formed the ludicrous impression that taxes went up
Why don't Democrats force Romney to argue against tax cuts?
As for unemployment -- well, give Obama credit: The American Jobs Act would have put a couple of million people back to work. The Republicans blocked it
. The Democrats did mention the Jobs Act during their convention, but not often enough to make a proper impression. Obama
didn't make any reference to it.
Why don't Democrats force Republicans to argue against jobs?
And that brings us to the big problem with Obama's speech: The lack of specificity. That concern also bothered Eliot Spitzer. As he mulled over the problem on his Current TV show, a troubling truth became clear. Obama offered no specific proposals because there is nothing he can do
The President does not make law. Without bipartisan cooperation, little in the realm of domestic policy is achievable.
FDR, by contrast, had more across-the-aisle cooperation. He got it because many Republicans, chastened by the national ill-will directed toward Herbert Hoover, felt obliged to remake their brand. (Of course, both parties had liberal and conservative wings in those days.) He also got it by threatening to use emergency powers -- not an option available to Barack Obama.
Mitt Romney has, in recent days, signaled his own plan: Military Keynesianism. For Republicans, defense spending is the only ideologically acceptable jobs program. That's why Romney wants more military spending than the Pentagon has asked for.
I doubt that he'll get it: The dominant Grover Norquist faction wants Defense to shrink
along with the rest of the government. Thus, Romney -- like Obama -- has little room for action. We live in one nation, under Grover.
What is to be done? If a smart guy like Spitzer is stumped, then so am I. But I know this: We can't reward obstructionists with electoral success.
The only good news is that some forecasters believe that jobs will slowly begin to return next year regardless of which candidate wins. If and when that happens, the rooster will take credit for the dawn.
About those disappointing August employment numbers:
Please forgive the Fox-ism, but some people say that August is always
pretty lousy, jobs-wise. Even before the Wall Street meltdown, the August figures under Bush in 2008 showed only losses
. People forget that Dubyanomics began shedding jobs early that year.
Not only that: The Bush record shows job losses -- not tepid gains, but losses
-- in August of 2007
-- a time when, in Republican mythology, everything was supposed to be hunky-dory.
On an unrelated note: Sarah Palin
says that John Kerry "diminished himself" by mentioning her name during his speech. I agree. Since this woman will probably never hold office again, why should any of us continue to diminish ourselves?