It has been more than a month of Sundays since our last post. Been busy? Yes, but that is no excuse. Rather, like most Americans, I have been listening day in and day out to the advocacy for (and against) the incumbent, President Barack Obama, and the challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Romney.
I put “and against” in parentheses above and quotation marks here because the dominant tone of the race has been to tear the other person down. How goofed up is that?
Let’s be brief and clear: The state of the nation and the world when President Obama took office was terrible, lousy, awful.
President Obama did some things wrong and some things right. On balance, he did great.
Domestically, he has us climbing out of a bad economy into a sustainably good economy in a mere four years. Mere? Yes. The economic problems he inherited by definition had lagging economic consequences. The annual deficits and therefore the increasing national debt all was predictable, given the private sector behavior and the Bush era actions from the early 2000s through 2008. To be this far up the economic recovery curve in just four years is a small miracle. Far from being harshly criticized, his leadership should be applauded. And we must include the role of the psychologically dysfunctional House of Representatives in 2011 and 2012 as being the anchor that has prevented us from being further up the recovery curve. To be sure, this president focused strongly on health care in 2009 and 2010, while the Democrats had the majority in the House. He could and should have done more in other areas, and done it by reaching out adult to adult to both sides of the aisle in Congress. But even if he had, the underlying ideologue-induced 2011-12 gridlock would have happened.
In foreign affairs and policy, the president got it right (1) in managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the war on terror, and (2) in developing increasingly strong, mutually respectful relationships with nations around the world. Far from the often used “apology tour” and apology behavior some label him with, he has set the globe on a course of a mutually respectful nation-to-nation and collective future and has done it without the self-serving bravado some would like to see.
In general, his tendency to be a bit aloof and a bit intellectually arrogant is softening, and his appreciation of the long-term national and global benefits that flow from a win-win-win mindset is just what we need.
Governor Romney successfully emerged from a rough Republican primary as the nominee of that party. He now presents himself as: (1) a person who knows how the business world works and, (2) a person who knows how to be successfully tough in foreign affairs, including tough in global commerce.
The Governor, though, now also clearly presents himself as he is – an imperious, self-absorbed autocratic CEO type. This condition is, in fact, not atypical in persons who have had professional experiences like his, but it is archaic, transparent, and behaviorally dna-imbedded. He can’t change it and wouldn’t if he could. Mitt Romney has unveiled himself, his true self, increasingly through the Republican primary debates and now the debates with the president. The “I’ll let you know when you can speak,” behavior and his condescending treatment toward the moderators, not to mention toward the president is not a surprise. He is reverting to form, to the autocratic, imperious CEO mindset he has. This mindset is fatal, though, for one who seeks the presidency of the United States. This office’s job description is ultimately grounded in serving at the will of the people, not the will of the Board of Directors and not in the predispositions of a Donald Trump-type self-made person.
There is a second behavior that Mitt Romney exhibits that is equally problematic. He ran to the right in the primary and now to the center in the general. Republicans do that. Democrats run to the left in primaries and to the center in generals. Governor Romney, though, has taken this to the next level. He appears to believe he can do as he wants if elected, ignoring the zealotry of the tea party ideology and Members of Congress. This would find favor with mainstream Republicans and some Democrats. But he can’t do it. He would ignore them at his peril. Further, if he acquiesces and is guided by their agenda, he almost certainly alienates mainstream Rebublicans, all Democrats, and finds himself powerless on an ideological island. Either way, his chameleonic conduct leads him to dead ends.
The upshot is that Mitt Romney has exposed himself as unfit to be president. He is the wrong person at the wrong time. AND, all this does not even take into account his misguided, myopic and clueless mistreatment of several groups of citizens, voters, people: Women, Hispanics, those going through a time of dependency in their lives, educators, and union and non-union workers. The list goes on.
President Obama, on the other hand, is positioned to break through, working with a co-equal and pro-active Congress, on the domestic front, in international trade and global commerce (indeed, he recognizes that the 21st century coincides with the transformational characteristics of technology and communication, such that while national sovereignty will remain integrally part of the world, globalization is on us – for the good of all), and in foreign policy. The United States will remain and even grow as the world’s leading power in times of peace and war. War is going to become less and less of a role player in the future, though, and the president knows what policies and philosophical grounding embraces that reality.
The choice is clear. In fact, the re-election of President Obama to a second four-year term should be by acclamation.