As the 2012 election draws to a close, the painfully inevitable process of media endorsements has brought the Romney and Obamaphiles out of the woodwork, like Kurt Gibson, hobbling to the plate in hopes that one lucky swing can sway some votes. Generally conservative endorsements of Mitt Romney incorporate criticism of President Obama for being everything he promised, as Charles Krauthammer wrote here, or for failing to live up to his promises, as David Brooks wrote here.
Conservatives are aware of Mitt Romney’s faults, but feel that he, along with Paul Ryan, are the right choice to move America towards growth, fiscal rationality, and general economic stability. Endorsements of Obama, however, gloss over any criticism of the president as The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf explains.
It’s no surprise that publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post endorsed the president, but to do so with such aplomb reflects an increasingly group-thinking Left. The New Yorker, for instance, states in its endorsement that “A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community.”
All of these endorsements focus on lofty, almost ethereal, ideas of what it means to be president, what it means to care about America and its citizens. There is little to no discussion of the policies that President Obama would pursue in a second term besides protecting the policies of the first. And it’s easy to see why; President Obama himself has failed to outline any actual policies.
The Obama Campaign recently released a pamphlet entitled “The New Economic Patriotism,” which can be seen here. I’ll ignore for now the implication that “patriotism” can be found in a campaign pamphlet and, by extension, the policies of President Obama. What’s more troubling is the utter lack of a “plan” in this “Plan For Jobs and Middle-Class Security.”
The pamphlet contains myriad promises and platitudes – “standing up for American workers and businesses in the marketplace” – but no legislative agenda. For instance, he cites the Boston Consulting Group which authored a report stating that manufacturing companies were moving jobs back to the United States for the first time in years. The irony, however, is that the main reason this is occurring is the reduction in energy costs as a result of the natural gas boom, as David Ignatius pointed out in May. The EPA, under President Obama’s direction, has done little to support this industry and has, in many cases, prevented its expansion. In other words, companies are moving manufacturing jobs back to the United States in spite of the Obama Administration.
These types of distortions continue in sections on health care, taxes, government spending, small business growth, etc. Most of the points mentioned are not bad things. Everyone supports “standing up for American workers” or “strengthening public schools” or “growing our economy without burdening our children and grandchildren with debt.” The trouble is that the entire pamphlet is vapidity at best, and distortion at worst. For a candidate who criticized his opponent for not releasing details of his tax and economic plan, the President has woefully failed to do the same.
Without details and replete with self-aggrandizing reflections on personal largesse, the Obama Campaign has become more “cult of personality” than “Plan For Jobs and the Middle Class.” If you don’t believe me, just watch this Obama Campaign video. Apparently a successful presidential candidate is one that causes children to weep with joy at the very mention of his name and men to run through the streets in enlightened ecstasy.
In a wave election like 2008, where Ronald Reagan himself probably couldn’t have been elected as a Republican, ethereal messages of hope and change can work. But now President Obama has a record to defend (which he’s seemed unwilling to do) and an electorate asking for answers (which he’s been unwilling to give).
The New York Times, New Yorker, and Washington Post endorsed Obama as a President who embodies their vision for a greater America, but that vision may just as likely be a mirage. It’s image over substance, and we already tried that for four years.