Obama 2012: More Chutzpah than Hope
With Obama complaining that Mitt Romney is "new" to foreign policy and that Romney's positions are "extreme," mainstream America might need to redefine the word chutzpah. Traditionally defined as stunning audacity, such as murdering one's parents and then pleading for clemency on the grounds of being an orphan, chutzpah will now have to be defined as spending one's career on the left-wing fringes of society and then questioning the qualifications of anyone with real-world experience.
In the 2008 campaign, Obama's closest claim to foreign policy experience was that he had spent part of his childhood in another country. That was tantamount to claiming the right to practice medicine on the grounds that one was treated by a pediatrician in childhood. One suspects that, even now, Romney knows enough not to bow to the heads of foreign states, and that alone validates his foreign policy credentials against those of Obama.
The more stunning charge coming out of the Obama campaign, however, is that the positions of Romney and the Republicans are extremist. This charge comes from the man who openly acknowledges seeking out Marxist professors in college, whose earliest political associates included people like William Ayers, who spent twenty years in a church run by Jeremiah Wright, and who rammed a massive health care takeover down the throats of the American people even though nobody knew what was in the bill.
But even Obama's chutzpah knows no bounds. A major theme of Obama's campaign has been that our financial crisis is the result of the failure of free enterprise, that we've tried the market approach favored by the Republicans and that it has not worked. In reality, it is easy enough to point to failed stimulus packages, cronyism, high unemployment, and alarming debt as real-world evidence that it is Obama's approach that has failed. But there is also a case to be made that it was the approach favored by Obama that caused the crisis in the first place.
The financial crisis that came to a head in 2008 was triggered largely by the collapse of the mortgage market, and the collapse of the mortgage market was set in motion by the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. The CRA pressured banks to make mortgage loans based on political criteria rather than economic criteria, and the result of political meddling in these business decisions was an artificial housing bubble that burst in 2008.
And whose view of government gave us the CRA? Enacted under Jimmy Carter, the CRA epitomized the idea of central political control of economic decisions. Liberal politicians like Bill Clinton reaped the benefits of the artificial housing bubble, and banks and shareholders were forced to carry the risks. And when the house of cards collapsed, big government stepped in again to bail out banks that were sinking because of big-government policies. It is these policies that Obama has supported since his days as a community organizer. The reality is that it is Obama's way that has been tried and has failed.
The problem with Obama's chutzpah, however, is that it is succeeding politically even as his policies are failing economically. After the Democrats in Charlotte hammered the Republicans for being extremist and uncooperative, the Romney campaign started making bipartisan noises. Over the weekend, Romney talked about the parts of ObamaCare that he likes, such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and talked of compromises on taxes.
The conventional thinking is that Romney has to counter the Democrats' accusation of inflexibility in order to appeal to moderates, but the conventional thinking is dangerously wrong. Damaging leftist policies such as the CRA could not do their damage without Republican concessions. The long-established pattern in American politics is that the left makes a bold policy advance, and the right resists at first. But then the left starts attacking the character of the opposition rather than debating the issue. The left accuses the Republicans of creating gridlock, of not caring about the poor, of denying Grandma her medicine, and then the Republicans compromise. With every compromise, government gains ground, and freedom loses.
If Romney falls into the trap of trying to prove to moderates that he is not who the Democrats say he is, he will let the left avoid responsibility for the ruin they have made of our economy. Republicans have tried for too long to win the political middle by appeasing the left, and it is appeasing the left -- not free enterprise -- that contributed to the mess we are in.
The way to reach moderates is to educate them. Instead of going on the defensive, Romney should make Obama and the Democrats defend the record that they cannot defend. The real extremists are the people who think they have a right to money that someone else has earned, not the people who think they have a right to keep what they have worked for.
The real extremists are the liberals who pushed the economy off a cliff and now have the chutzpah to insist that they should lead the rescue effort.
Dr. Tim Daughtry is co-author of Waking The Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals At Their Own Game.