Thingish Things

Mitt Romney and the “Something” to the Obama “Nothing”

Written By: Bill Lalor - Aug• 28•12

For all the similarities between President Obama in 2012 and President Carter in 1980 – and there are many – a nagging truth for Republicans is that Jimmy Carter tends to be defined by reference to President Reagan as much as by reference to Carter himself.

In 1980, Carter didn’t have much to brag about, but Reagan was something to Carter’s nothing: Reagan was optimistic, direct, forceful and principled, all of which seemed to contrast with Carter. In 2012, President Obama’s surely “got nothing,” but is that enough?  There’s optimism, but can Mitt Romney be the something?  Can he fill the void? Paul Ryan helps the ticket answer that question, but Romney needs to make a case for himself, and this week is his chance to do so.

(My unscientific belief is that moderates will flock to Romney once they see enough to contrast him with the President. Likewise unscientific is my belief that Romney, barring disaster, will win in November in a landslide. The RNC’s “Switchers” ad brilliantly sets the groundwork for Romney to introduce himself this week – officially, more or less – to the nationwide electorate, and to remind former Obama supporters they’re not alone.)

Reagan’s 1980 acceptance speech is remarkable in many respects.  It’s worth reading in full – much of what Reagan said 32 years ago could be said again verbaitm in 2012 (especially the part about “the difference between what is essential and what is merely desirable”).

Romney doesn’t’ need to be Reagan, but my (again unscientific) belief is that if Mitt Romney delivers a forceful, empathetic, and credible speech on Thursday, he’ll be the something, and the White House will be his to lose.

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