A few days before the Republican convention The London Economist ran an editorial titled “So, Mitt, what do you really believe? Too much about the Republican candidate for the presidency is far too mysterious.” The editorial’s quite startling conclusion was that, if Romney continued on his current “evasive, needlessly extreme” approach, “America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper.. ”
It’s a really stunning slap-down. For the self-proclaimed “businessman’s candidate” to get trashed so dramatically by the leading business magazine on the planet blows a gaping hole in his entire case for election.
But don’t believe us. Read these excerpts from the Economist’s editorial (italics ours):
When Mitt Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, he supported abortion, gun control, tackling climate change and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, backed up with generous subsidies for those who could not afford it. Now, as he prepares to fly to Tampa to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president on August 30th, he opposes all those things. A year ago he favoured keeping income taxes at their current levels; now he wants to slash them for everybody, with the rate falling from 35% to 28% for the richest Americans.
All politicians flip-flop from time to time; but Mr Romney could win an Olympic medal in it. And that is a pity, because this newspaper finds much to like in the history of this uncharismatic but dogged man, from his obvious business acumen to the way he worked across the political aisle as governor to get health reform passed and the state budget deficit down….
But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character… [Romney] has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind. America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper…
In theory, Mr Romney has a detailed 59-point economic plan. In practice, it ignores virtually all the difficult or interesting questions (indeed, “The Romney Programme for Economic Recovery, Growth and Jobs” is like “Fifty Shades of Grey” without the sex). Mr Romney began by saying that he wanted to bring down the deficit; now he stresses lower tax rates. Both are admirable aims, but they could well be contradictory: so which is his primary objective?
Mr Romney may calculate that it is best to keep quiet: the faltering economy will drive voters towards him. It is more likely, however, that his evasiveness will erode his main competitive advantage. A businessman without a credible plan to fix a problem stops being a credible businessman. So does a businessman who tells you one thing at breakfast and the opposite at supper. Indeed, all this underlines the main doubt: nobody knows who this strange man really is. It is half a decade since he ran something. Why won’t he talk about his business career openly? Why has he been so reluctant to disclose his tax returns? How can a leader change tack so often? Where does he really want to take the world’s most powerful country?
The Economist editorial concluded by saying that Romney “has a lot of questions to answer in Tampa.” As we now know, his acceptance speech didn’t answer any of them. So, as of right now, the London Economist is on record as saying “America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper…”