The Hill Pundit’s Blog 9/12/2012



Mitt’s meltdown

By Peter Fenn – 09/12/12 11:51 AM ET

Make no mistake, this race will be tight. Two months is an eternity in politics, especially this year. But my belief is that Mitt Romney is doing everything in his power to disqualify himself from the presidency.

He managed to survive the past year and a half of seriously mediocre primary challengers by overwhelming them with money and negative firepower. At practically every turn, the debates, the interviews, the campaign appearances, he came up short. He won, but he won ugly, and failed to convince voters that he was a particularly strong general-election candidate.
The choice of Paul Ryan for vice president was less than inspired — no foreign-policy chops, a radical economic plan that eviscerates Medicare, privatizes Social Security, rewards the rich and devastates the middle class. A far-right social platform that denies a woman the right to choose even in the cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. Plus, as Bill Clinton pointed out, let’s look at “the arithmetic.” For both Romney and Ryan, you can’t give $5 trillion in tax cuts, increase the defense budget and pledge to reduce the debt and balance the budget. That doesn’t take an act of Congress, it takes an act of magic.

The Republican convention was not a plus for Romney. Clint Eastwood was a memorable disaster and Romney’s speech contained no specifics and no plan to create the jobs he talked about. Plus, there was no mention of our troops or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The other speeches were jumbled and contradictory; Ann Romney talked about “love” and Chris Christie said he didn’t want to talk about love, he wanted to talk about respect. That would have been an easy catch for those vetting the speeches.

But the fundamental problem is that Americans are having a serious problem contemplating Mitt Romney as president and commander in chief. His foreign trip was disastrous, rarely an interview goes by that he doesn’t seriously put his foot in his mouth and the advertising is doing nothing to build him up, only to tear Obama down.

Voters are worried that he is too much of an empty suit, a person who changes his fundamental beliefs on a daily basis (pre-existing conditions, individual mandates, abortion, gun control, gay rights, tax increases, etc., etc.) and, most important, that he has no plan for America’s future.

He now admits that he has no specifics for how to make up the $5 trillion-plus shortfall and that he won’t divulge the loopholes that he will close. Will it be the mortgage interest deduction, healthcare, charitable deductions, retirement savings, childcare? Of course, Romney won’t say because the top five deductions in the tax code help the middle class and account for half the revenue. (Health insurance, retirement pensions, mortgage interest, exclusion for Medicare and lower capital gains)

The refusal of Romney-Ryan to discuss the specifics leads voters to an overriding conclusion: Either they have no real plan to solve the problems or the cuts and “loophole closings” are going to stick it to the middle class.

The facts are clear on what the Romney-Ryan plan would do: If you make over $3 million you get another big tax cut of $250,000; if you are a middle-class American family you will see your tax bill go up by $2,000.

Mitt Romney will have to defend these policies in the debates. If he appears on any more interview shows he is going to have to answer the tough questions. The trouble with Mitt Romney is he is beginning to convince voters that he will take America back to the Bush era — on economics, on foreign policy, on letting Wall Street run wild. And, when it comes to standing up for women, he will adopt the views of the extreme right. Just as he let them write his platform, he will let them run his government.

This is a campaign and a candidate intent on treating the American people as though they are stupid, that they won’t see the wool being pulled over their eyes. A big mistake. As the debates loom and the power of the microscope gets further turned up on Romney, I suspect we will see more of Mitt’s meltdowns.