EDITORIAL: Taking the presidency seriously

The nation’s missed opportunity with Mitt Romney

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New taxes are about to hit the pocketbook and a few Americans, perhaps more than a few, are entertaining second thoughts about their choice for president in November 2012. Mitt Romney sensed the shift in the public mood and decided to break the silence he has held since he lost the November election.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Romney came across as thoughtful, serious, humbled and self-deprecating as he reflected on his failed campaign. With wife Ann at his side, Mr. Romney was sad for losing, not so much for his own sake as for those who had supported him and thought he would win. “It’s hard,” he said. “It’s emotional. There was such passion in the people who were helping us. I just felt we have let them down.” Added Mrs. Romney, “It was a crushing disappointment. Not for us. Our lives are going to be fine. It’s for the country.”

The unending series of contrived budget crises — the fiscal cliff, the sequestration and now the continuing resolution — have given the nation the blues. The president seems to be in a dark mood, too. The national debt has increased nearly $400 billion since the election, and the latest Gallup survey shows President Obama’s job-approval rating, which peaked at 58 percent in December, has dipped into the high 40s and is continuing to slide.

The future is held hostage to politics. Mr. Romney rightly says the president is using sequestration, with its automatic spending cuts — or more accurately, reductions in the rate of spending growth — to score points. “To date, what we’ve seen is the president out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing,” he told the Fox interviewer.

The president himself, in a news conference at the end of the week, tried to explain his inability to strike a debt-reduction bargain with House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as being entirely the fault of the Republicans. “Even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right,” said Mr. Obama.

“What’s right” is code for a left-wing agenda of higher taxes, more borrowing and more spending, promoted by the president’s permanent campaign with its rounds of photo ops crafted to exploit wedge issues. Gone are the days of a president who rolls up his sleeves and does the heavy lifting required to negotiate deficit and debt reduction for the long-term well-being of the nation. The administration’s energy is directed toward winning the 17 seats needed to take back the House in 2014.

With a lock on the legislative and executive branches, Mr. Obama would be free to enact his agenda without having to listen to the constant Republican demand for compromise, or to anyone else. He could spend his entire days practicing his slam dunk and his putting. When he was governor of Massachusetts, Mr. Romney found a way to work with a legislature that was 87 percent Democratic. Had the election gone another way, Mr. Romney wouldn’t be plotting his 2014 strategy but looking for ways to get the economy moving in 2013. But back to grim reality.

The Washington Times

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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