“Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy.”
- Mitt Romney, September 9, 2012 on Meet the Press in response to questioning asking for one specific example of a loophole in the tax code that he would close in order to meet his proposed budgetary targets.
In terms of a non-sequitur, this Romney quote should join the pantheon of famously ridiculous political statements. This statement rivals Sarah Palin’s “I can see Russia from my house” and John Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it.” Entire episodes of Saturday Night Live can be devoted to his verbal gift of talking without speaking.
Reading Romney’s words, I am again reminded of one of my favorite lines from Animal House. Robert Hoover, President of Delta House defends his fraternity’s actions at the infamous toga party by saying, “The Delta House has a long history of existence to its members and to the community at large.” The difference is that Robert Hoover’s deflection was funny. Romney’s deflection is no joke. It’s pathetic.
And it might work.
Dean Smith, the legendary basketball coach for the North Carolina Tar Heels, perfected the four corner stall tactic in the days before the shot clock. His team would get a lead and then play keep away for long stretches of the second half. Mitt appears to be trying the same approach for his campaign. Hold the ball, make no mistakes and you might win. Dean Smith won a lot of games this way. Of course, Coach Smith was in the lead when he instructed his team to stop playing, and Romney is behind in the Electoral College right now. He’d better start dribbling, and soon. He needs points. We need specifics.
In these final weeks of the Presidential campaign, Mitt has calculated that saying anything specific about his post-election plans would be “political suicide” (Paul Ryan’s words). I must insist that the national press intercept the ball and force Romney to play instead of stall. Where have you gone, Tim Russert? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you... woo, woo, woo.
(Side bar: I know that David Gregory had a near impossible task following the legendary Russert who was taken from us far too soon, but his facile questioning of guests is embarrassing. The Fourth Estate should deport him.)
Politicians have been giving evasive answers to direct questions for centuries. I get that. Mitt Romney seems to have taken the enterprise to a whole new level by claiming that his lack of specificity is required, otherwise his opponents will attack his positions. Huh? Sounds to me like the positions must be indefensible if that is how he feels.
So far, we know that is budget and tax plan cannot be scored by the CBO because it lacks specifics. We know that he plans to work out any details with Congress so we’ll have to vote for him and hope his relationship with a divided Congress will be magically better than Obama’s. We know that his Afghanistan plan is to ask the generals what to do. He supports equal pay for woman, but won’t say if he supports the Equal Pay Act. He is against violence towards women, but won’t say if he would sign the Violence Against Women Act. We know that he’ll repeal Obamacare, but keep all the good parts without explaining how that will be affordable. In today’s GOP, I guess this is what is known as telling the public the “hard truths”, like they promised at their convention.
In the year 2012, a platform that consists of the two words “Trust Me” should not be enough to earn anyone’s vote. If you think Romney deserves a chance, then demand he tell you what he’ll do once in office. I think the public deserves that courtesy. We the voters need to insist on answers.
Please watch the debates beginning in 23 days and demand answers, not platitudes.