But, before moving forward, it seems appropriate to consider the state of the GOP. Given that this was such a topsy-turvy primary cycle, it is likely that some Republicans and self-proclaimed "true" conservatives are still licking their wounds. The use of the term “self-proclaimed” is not to say that those who are upset that Romney is the all-but-certain nominee are not real conservatives. Simply, the use of this term is to say that that many of this crowd tend to believe they are the only ones with “true” convictions and that anyone who has supported Romney longer than a few weeks and not by default only cannot be “real” conservatives. This fallacy pre-supposes that a thinking, conservative individual, such as myself, could not have chosen him months ago, before many thought his nomination certain. Having said that, this is not the time to spike the football as it were, so I will digress and move forward.
The bottom line is that regardless of the reasons for the underlying (and sometimes uber-vocal by some) apprehension that Romney is not the right guy, Romney has to unite a party, bring together some that are happy with him, some that have come to terms with his eventual nomination, and others who are downright disgruntled.
Humorously, as it has been from the beginning for many, Ron Paul’s supporters still have child-like certainty that Paul will somehow embezzle enough delegates from unsuspecting states. Also, the Ron Paul supporters continue to think that Paul is the great hope for all that is wrong in this country. In their eyes, all of Paul’s opponents are “statists,” not much different than the current statist occupying the White House. This type of absolutist mind-set is both what unites them and what will ensure their permanence in the fringe of American politics.
Either way, Romney is as he should be gearing up for the fall campaign. And, while Romney shakes his etch-a-sketch to design his strategy against Obama (which is appropriate despite the uproar this comment raised a few weeks ago), his opponent is sharpening his knives. Obama and the full Chicago team have long-anticipated a Romney win, already running ads against him in the primary and calling him out by name in campaign events designed as official White House business.
The real show this fall will be the street-style campaigning that will be exhibited by the Obama campaign. This will be Chicago-style politics on the national level. One recent example is the now-famous Obama campaign commercial alleging that Romney would not have made the call to go after Osama bin Laden. As Romney correctly retorted, “even Carter would have made that call.” This ad sparked a debate about the appropriateness of politicizing bin Laden’s death. Those engaging in this debate are humorously wasting their energy. The fact is that Obama will engage in this type of “spiking the football” all throughout the election cycle. Truly, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
So, for those of us concerned about the reckless, audacious, and seemingly willful drive exhibited by our current president to shove this country’s future off a cliff, the question becomes: is Romney up to it? If this is a campaign about book-smarts vs. street-smarts, straight-laced and square against unflappable and hip, then Romney loses.
However, people should not mistake this election for the last one. Romney-the-candidate is much more sophisticated than McCain-the-candidate; and Obama 2008 is much less exciting than is Obama 2012. Not only does he finally have a record for all to examine, his message is no longer one of hope, no longer one of courage, no longer one of optimism. Instead, it is one of disappointment, disillusionment, and regret. While Obama will do all he can to try to explain to the country why the rising gas prices are a good thing and how the unprecedented debt is really less important than his many other accomplishments (whatever they are), his attempts to explain away the current state of the country will be a difficult sell, to say the least.
Also, what Romney’s critics on both sides fail to see (though this is what the Obama campaign fears the most), is that Romney’s supposed square-ness is actually a strength, a great strength. Romney is not just a good guy, he is an honorable family-man. Romney is not just a “member of the 1%,” he is a strategic thinker, successful by his own merits and as hard-working and shrewd in his actions as one would expect from a great American success story. Romney is not just calculated, as many of his “more conservative” rivals called him, he is actually deliberate and dignified. Romney will not try to fight the same battle Obama will fight. He isn’t interested in Chicago-style politics; he will remain above the fray. At the same time, he will not be afraid to call out the record that has been established over the past 3.5 years by the current administration.
And this is why Obama will lose. He will lose because this country, deep down, knows that what we need right now is a grown-up. By the end of this nasty election, people will be hungry for dignity.