Here's the problem with Mitt Romney. Sending Mitt Romney into battle against President Obama in 2012 is like bringing an MBA to a philosophy fight.
Mitt Romney is a nice man, a decent man. It's obvious that he's a good manager. That's how he positions himself. As a technocrat. A "fix-it man." A turnaround specialist with a plan that's better than the other guy's plan, and a promise to bring better administration to the administration.
On the other side of the 2012 battleground is a philosophical warrior. You may not agree with Mr. Obama's philosophy, but he has one. It's there for all to see. Even self-described "Obama Sap" David Brooks at the New York Times now recognizes the Obama philosophy as "Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful!"
Some call that class warfare. I prefer to call it "Underdogma." Whatever you call it, it's a philosophy.
These are philosophical times for America. The 2012 election will be fought on philosophical grounds. And nothing less than the philosophy - the idea of America itself - is at stake.
On one side of the battlefield is Mr. Obama. Ironically, it was "Obama Sap" Mr. Brooks, back in 2007, who first revealed candidate Barack Obama's favorite philosopher: Reinhold Niebuhr. Here is a taste of the philosophy of Mr. Obama's favorite philosopher:
"In one sense, the opulence of American life has served to perpetuate Jeffersonian illusions about human nature. For we have thus far sought to solve all our problems by the expansion of our economy. This expansion cannot go on forever and ultimately we must face some vexatious issues of social justice. ..."
If you think philosophy does not matter, you don't know Reinhold Niebuhr - and you don't know Barack Obama.
In less than three years, the Obama philosophy has all but destroyed what Niebuhr called the "opulence of American life." The belief that we could "solve all our problems by the expansion of our economy" has given way to the Obama philosophy that we can solve all our problems by the expansion of government. Niebuhr said the "expansion [of our economy] cannot go on forever," and Mr. Obama made sure of it. Niebuhr said "we must face some vexatious issues of social justice," and Mr. Obama brought his social-justice-seeking community-organizer skills into the White House, where his philosophy of social justice shapes his decisions - from Supreme Court justice picks to economic policy to foreign policy.
Mr. Obama is a philosophical warrior. Unfortunately for America, his philosophy is the opposite of the ideas that made America exceptional. In some cases, his ideas are openly hostile and directly injurious to the idea of America itself.
Our leaders used to champion the "American dream." It was the belief that America is the land of opportunity. The place where the world's huddled masses could come and make better lives for themselves. The land where anyone could grow up to be president. Even someone who is philosophically opposed to the idea of American exceptionalism.
Here is a quote from another philosopher. All GOP candidates should read it as they ready themselves for the philosophical battles ahead.
"The ultimate determinate in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas - a trial of spiritual resolve; the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideas to which we are dedicated."
If you are a Republican candidate and you have to ask who spoke those words - or if you disagree with those words - withdraw your candidacy now for the good of the country.
The reason we remember this philosopher president so fondly is because he embraced, embodied and championed the American philosophy in order to save America from a president who did not embrace, embody or champion the philosophy of American exceptionalism.
It took a philosopher to beat Jimmy Carter. To beat Barack Obama, we are going to need a philosopher again.
Michael Prell is author of "Underdogma: How America's Enemies Use Our Love for the Underdog to Trash American Power" (BenBella Books, 2011).
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