Mitt Romney Is Working Hard to Avoid Offering Any Specifics About His Policies.
Mitt Romney has a problem with specifics. Since Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin, a growing number of Republicans have been calling for something more from him. His recent responses on questions from tax reform to immigration have been thin or nonexistent. When reporters tried to get an answer about the candidate’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s immigration law, his spokesperson was so evasive, my colleagues might want to plant a mulberry bush in the press section to make the next round of the game more lively. Usually you have to win the White House before you can be that skilled at ducking and weaving.
But wait. A Romney campaign aide told Politico’s Jonathan Martin, when he wrote about this topic, that they have offered an “unprecedented” level of specificity. How can these two things both be true? To understand the disconnect, think of an ad for a prescription drug in a magazine. On one page there is an uplifting, well-lit picture of a healthy woman walking through a sunlit glen on the way to success. On the following two pages is all the fine print and possible side effects. Romney is specific about the glen and the breeze—tax cuts; more jobs for everyone; innovation; no more waste, fraud, and abuse—but is not so specific about the two pages of complexity and possible consequence.
Is Romney offering an “unprecedented” level of specificity? This is an exciting claim, but it is contradicted by history. Next to me is my worn copy of Renewing America’s Purpose, the 450-page volume of George W. Bush’s policy addresses and proposals from 1999-2000. By this time in the 2000 campaign, Bush had unveiled a lot more policy than Romney has, including a plan to offer workers the ability to invest some of their Social Security money in private accounts. “Mr. Bush is dominating the policy debate,” the Economist wrote 12 years ago this month. “[He] has seized on the opportunities to appear both bipartisan and statesmanlike.”