Odd though that may sound—especially considering that presidential campaigns are designed specifically to inform voters of such plans—the strategy actually aligns quite well with Romney’s “emotion-free crisis management” style.
Romney isn’t the most likeable candidate to run for the presidency, and his campaign’s intention to swap out the conservative talking points for the more moderate middle ground rhetoric once the general election begins, as his chief campaign advisor forewarned, isn’t likely to boost his popularity among the GOP base. So in order to alleviate the nation’s continued ambivalence toward Mr. Etch-a-Sketch, Romney has announced a plan to…not announce his plans. The thinking behind this, I believe, is that if nobody knows what he’d do as president, he might have a chance of becoming one!
Jonathan Chait of New York magazine has the story:
Mitt Romney has embraced a budget plan that would entail cutting federal programs other than defense and Social Security by more than half. It does raise the question of how he plans to carry out such a sweeping goal. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Romney says he’d eliminate a bunch of departments. But he won’t say which ones.
“One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education,” Romney recalled. “So I think it’s important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies.
“So for instance, I anticipate that housing vouchers will be turned over to the states rather than be administered at the federal level, and so at this point I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we’ll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you a list right now.”
This isn’t entirely new.
Romney’s tax plan, for example, would give the top 1 percent of income earners a 7.8-percent tax cut, an 8.7-percent tax cut for the top 0.1 percent, and a 1.4 percent tax cut for the middle class (the bottom 20 percent would see their taxes increase by 1.3 percent). But as the conservative National Review magazine recently reported, nobody knows how such cuts would be enacted, what effect they would have on the economy, or how severely they would increase the national deficit.
Not even Romney.
“What I put out in my plan is a series of principles that allow our economy to grow and at the same time maintain a neutral budget impact,” Romney said on CNBC today. “And so I haven’t laid out all the details of how we’re going to deal with each one of the deductions and exemptions…”
That’s not an accident. It’s intentional. In fact, “it’s kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it,” Romney said, “because, frankly, it can’t be scored—because those kind of details have to be worked out with Congress and we have a wide array of options.”
It can’t be scored. Hehehe. Because there are no details. Hehehe. (The villain’s non-plan is masterful, indeed!)
Romney has vowed to “reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life,” but voters won’t know Romney’s definition of “innocent life” until they elect him. It may mean a full-bore federal assault on women’s reproductive rights. It may mean President Romney plans to build a veterinary clinic inside the West Wing that provides therapy to Irish setters who are stuck in stage two of Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual development.
You won’t know until you elect him.
His entire candidacy is like a McDonald’s happy meal toy. It could be cool. It might be cheap and shitty. But it most certainly will be a surprise!
Beyond appearing laughably inauthentic, which just so happens to be Romney’s only consistent characteristic, the sealed-lips approach seems a bit half-assed.
Why not go all the way?
If the “severely conservative” former governor of Massachusetts fears the blowback of voicing an opinion, perhaps he should consider running for president anonymously. It certainly couldn’t hurt. Polls throughout 2011 showed that a nameless, faceless Republican was more popular among American voters than any of the real GOP candidates, and the closer Romney inches to the GOP nomination, the more popular President Obama becomes.
Going underground wouldn’t be difficult. One-hundred percent of Romney’s candidacy is based on money, and 60 percent of his fundraising has been donated anonymously. He’s pretty much there already.
It might get a bit confusing trying to not announce his non-plan not to not announce an anonymity plan, but he’s a smart guy. Saved the Olympics! He’ll figure it out.