Despite the delivery, Clint was speaking for a big crowd
Mitt Romney has a real chance to make Barack Obama a one—term president. The polls say the two men are close but Romney offers something that Americans will find hard to ignore on November 6 when they go to the polls: a proven record as a job creator.
When Clint Eastwood took the stage at the Republican National Convention, and gave an uneven speech that misfired in parts, he nevertheless made his point. Eastwood went to Tampa not as a Republican but an American who sees a great country struggling to find its way, hogtied by a stalemated Congress and run by professional politicians who put their survival ahead of their constituents.
President Obama’s fine rhetoric no longer moves hearts and minds.
“I think it’s maybe time for a businessman,” said Eastwood. “I’d like to say something that I think is very important. You, we, we own this country. Politicians are employees of ours.”
They were powerful words and Romney, despite a reputation as being disconnected from ordinary Americans because of his great personal wealth, promised to be a hardworking servant of the people.
In his stint as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, he declined a salary and went to work balancing the budget yet somehow fashioning an inclusive state that gave free health care to the poorest.
As the Republican nominee for president, he has been forced to turn disown his own scheme, which Obama used as the blueprint for his own national health reforms.
But it did show that Romney cared, and there is no reason to believe he has stopped caring.
Obama also cares. He is desperate to give hope to the downtrodden and in doing so has allowed them access to the government’s wealth, in the form of social and disability payments.
But across the land, citizens worry that this is not the story of how America became great, or how it will stay great. Obama only has to look to America’s latent foe, China, to see how it is lifting its people and its economy. China interprets human rights as jobs.
Obama has only one idea for repairing a nation with 12 million unemployed, and another 11 million who can only find part—time work or have become so exasperated they have given up and now rely on social security.
It is to make the wealthiest pay more. There seems no doubt that tax benefits fall absurdly in the favour of the wealthy, including Romney, who get away with making minimum contributions to the Treasury.
The Republicans say Obama’s tax plans will ruin them, and make them unable to provide jobs for the needy.
The problem with that argument is that under the current Administration, Obama has been unable to pass tax laws requiring the richest to pay more. Which means at this moment, the so—called wealthy job creators are working in a tax—friendly environment. Yet they are still not creating jobs.
Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are right. But what is certain is that Obama’s one idea is not enough. There needs to be a broader plan to right America.
At the Tampa convention, Republicans told a contradictory story: they said they were the greatest country in the world, while at the same time saying America was approaching ruin, or had already arrived.
The Democrats blame the eight years of George W Bush, with his costly wars and his lack of control over the lending institutions that caused the 2008 subprime meltdown.
But the Democrats cannot blame Bush forever. There is an election at hand and people will vote for, or against, the current administration.
Romney, 65, started the much—maligned Bain Capital when he was 37. The idea was to advise bankruptcy—bound companies on streamlining but it became so successful that Bain started buying the struggling companies.
In order to make a failing steel plant work again, that often meant sacking workers. Romney has been portrayed by the Obama Administration as a heartless hatchet man.
But the unimpeachable fact is that these companies would have died altogether if it was not for Romney looking at the books with cold eyes and seeing ways to rationalize production.
Bain Capital ultimately saved jobs, while making Romney a very wealthy man.
That is a story Americans are finally getting to hear as Romney gets his prime—time space. And it is a story they now want to hear, as Obama fails to tell a better one.
America’s $16 trillion debt is a source of humiliation and dread for Americans. The scare—tactic debt clock inside the Tampa stadium ticked over numbers so horrible they were almost beyond grasp.
Romney’s fix, vaguely stated during his acceptance speech, is to reduce the size of government, create 12 million jobs (no explanation of how, or by when), to loosen government regulations on lending to assist small business, and to stop sending American dollars to the Middle East.
He vowed the US will be totally self—dependent on energy by 2020, which will no doubt upset the known order of international markets and cause huge environmental problems at home.
But it will also satisfy a question Americans continually ask themselves: if we have enough oil, gas, coal, uranium and wind to create our own energy at home, and put Americans to work, why do we do it?
Obama has made the same promise but, because of environmental concerns, he put a block on the Keystone pipeline, which would ship synthetic oil from Alberta, in Canada, to refineries all across the US.
Obama postponed his decision on Keystone until 2013. Whether the environmental concerns are valid or not, it is his indecisiveness and pandering that infuriates Americans. They want answers.
Romney doesn’t have them all. He is completely unconvincing on foreign policy, and used the convention to unnecessarily bait Russia just for applause. He also vowed to “preserve a military that’s so strong no nation will ever dare to test it”, but that is very different to promising to build it.
The suspicion is that Romney wouldn’t have a clue how to wage or avoid a war, because they’re not fought on spreadsheets. But Americans are tired of war. There’s work to do at home.
Romney has a way of knowingly tilting his head, as though he’s just told a sad truth. Obama has a way of talking through problems, rather than addressing them, as though moral force alone will make things better.
They’ve heard plenty from Obama. In the next two months, they will be looking very closely at Mitt Romney.
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