Jewish World Review Feb 3, 2012/ 10 Shevat, 5772
Can Romney get serious?
By Jay Ambrose
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Mitt Romney won the Florida primary, but can he get the Republican presidential nomination and then win the White House?
That's the question most doggedly pursued by most news stories I've read since Romney's victory in the Florida primary, and there's a sure answer: wait and see. It would serve readers better to address his character, competence and political philosophy, matters that give readers a basis for deciding whether he actually should win.
My own view is yes, but.
Let's start with the positive, with the issue of character and with one of those widespread Internet yarns that seem too likely to be propaganda deceivingly dressed up as Princess Truth ready to go to the ball.
According to PoltiFact.com, a hogwash-wary column of the Tampa Bay Times, the story checks out. It tells how, in 1996, CEO Romney called an emergency halt to moneymaking at Bain Capital. The daughter of someone in the company was missing. She had apparently taken the drug Ecstasy and, to help find her, Romney took all 50 employees to New York City, hired a private detective, started a search using still another 200 people and got publicity for the effort. She was consequently located. Romney's unswerving, compassionate decisiveness quite possibly saved her life.
Then, going back even more years, we have Romney as a 19-year-old Mormon missionary in France once rushing to the defense of two female missionaries being harassed by some 20 drunken, muscle-flexing rugby players.
Romney had to face them alone, as the Boston Globe relates the incident. The phrase that comes to mind is what Texas Ranger Capt. Bill McDonald reportedly said in the early 1900s when asked by the mayor of Dallas whether he was going to confront an angry mob by himself. "One riot, one ranger," he replied. We know Romney's chin was bruised, but my guess is you should have seen the other guys.
Character means much more than that, of course, but everywhere you turn, you bump into Romney's self-control, his abstention from even the most meager of vices, his loyalty to friends, family and faith, his extraordinary charitable giving, his focus on others instead of just self, self, self, the central cause of so many politicians.
As for competence, he was about as good a business manager as a business manager gets, restoring dozens of companies to health, starting new ones such as Staples and Sports Authority and returning unbelievable dividends to investors. Some say business experience would mean nothing as president. Yes, it would. Leadership at his level involves vision, analysis, strategy, policymaking and teamwork, which is exactly what being a president involves.
Turn to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and you find a near miracle in the financial rescue he performed. Then turn to Massachusetts and you find a Republican governor effectuating surprisingly conservative policies in working with a liberal, Democratic legislature. There were compromises, to be sure, and GOP opponents today beat him over the head with those, but they were not major betrayals of principle.
On issues, Romney clearly understands the workings of free enterprise, not the way President Barack Obama does, believing that central planning is crucial to right outcomes and that the profit motive is endlessly suspect. I think Romney gets it that our debt will kill us if we don't kill it first, that the wrong kind of regulation will do the same and that big government equals big trouble.
But -- and it's a significant but -- he only occasionally sounds convincing, he is given to awkward slips of the tongue, he has enunciated no idea of how to slice the gargantuan debt in a gargantuan way, he is very nearly a shrinking violet on the topic of tax reform, he plays rhetorical games on several issues, including free trade, and he needs to be more serious about entitlements.
For my money, he needs to go after the issues like he went after those French rugby players, and then, in a couple of Florida debates, a brawler named Newt.
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Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado.
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