The GOP, supporters of Gov. Romney, and detractors of President Obama are hopeful that Romney will make a better impression than Obama in the presidential campaign debates with him. That hope rests upon Romney's extensive knowledge, his ability to marshall facts, and his cool under pressure. But, much as I share the hope, the basis upon which the hope rests is not a strong foundation for "defeating" Obama.
First and foremost, Romney needs to appear presidential. Appearing presidential will require Romney to express a large, philosophical vision of America. Expressing such a vision is, alas, exactly what Romney has failed consistently to do.
You would expect Romney to be the best candidate of this political season to defend free enterprise capitalism based on private property ownership as the basis of America's economic strength and growth, as well as the historical basis of that strength and growth in the past. Romney's executive management of Bain Capital required him to have such an understanding to steer foundering corporations to success. Alas -- again, alas! -- Romney has failed repeatedly to provide that vision while being attacked by Obama campaign ads as a predatory capitalist.
One would hope that Romney could explain the historical and current basis of the Republican Party as the party of freedom. From the formation of the party in the 1850s in opposition to the expansion of slavery, to Republican President Lincoln's emancipation of the slaves, to the Radical Republicans' constitutional amendments prohibiting slavery, to the Republicans' efforts to reconstruct the former slave South to give the freedmen and women economic freedom, to the elected black Republicans in Southern legislatures and in Congress, to the Republicans' opposition to Jim Crow, to individual Republicans' participation in the formation of (what eventually became) the NAACP, to Republicans' sponsorship and support of anti-lynching laws, to Republicans' disproportional support of the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- in all of these actions opposing Democrats' support for these efforts to advance the freedom of black people -- the Republican Party has been the party of freedom.
After the foundational laws of racial freedom, in the Cold War era and subsequently, the Republican Party has stood for private property ownership as the bulwark of economic freedom in the global contest with totalitarian communism.
It is the Republican Party that has stood up for individual freedom against the restraint and regulation of governmental regulation. It is Republican Party that has spoken for the integrity and freedom of the natural family from governmental influence and regulation as the basis of social freedom.
The issue of freedom in all its dimensions is the central issue of this election, for the President is an advocate of a materialist philosophy of collective control through the agency of government. The Republican candidate for president must be the spokesperson for freedom -- and that means Romney. The Republicans most fit as natural orators to promote this philosophy before the broad mass of Americans, Sarah Palin and Herman Cain, have been excluded from the Republican presidential campaign in any significant role. Romney has not once, I repeat, not once, explained this philosophy of freedom as a reason to vote for him or for the Republican Party.
Can Romney rise to the role in the presidential debates? I surely wish so, but I do not expect so.
Surprise me, Romney. Inspite of it all, rise to the necessities of the occasion.