Clinton v. Romney-Ryan
Daniel Larison writing at The American Conservative:
Romney-Ryan was supposed to be the presidential ticket of the “data-driven” manager and his budget wonk sidekick, and between the absence of any significant policy discussion last week and what happened tonight that has lost all credibility. Clinton outperformed both of them in terms of discussing policy details, and underscored just how meaningless the “campaign of ideas” phrase has been. Ryan fans had been convinced for over a year that the election had to be a contest over “big ideas,” and when it came time to engage in that contest their party leaders didn’t even try.
This comparisons and assessment well-encapsulates my general feelings on the Romney campaign: it is devoid of an underlying rationale of any substance.
Indeed, I think the Bill Clinton was right in this summary of the campaign’s basic message:
In Tampa, the Republican argument against the President’s re-election was pretty simple: we left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in.
Now, this is not exactly the way a Republican would put it, but the essence is true: we were in a mess starting at the end of 2008 and the president who came to office in 2009 was charged with cleaning it up as best as possible, and the GOP believes that it was not properly cleaned up, and so Romney should be elected to fix that problem.
However, the Romney campaign, especially as manifested by the RNC’s messaging, is failing to do two important (and interrelated) things:
1. Explain how Romney will do better than Obama.
2. Explain how Romney will do better than Bush.
A successful campaign needs, I would argue, to be able to say how he would do better than the incumbent, but he also needs to explain what he would do differently than the last time one of his co-partisans occupied the White House.