You cannot win by singing, “Anything Obama can do I can do better, I can do anything better than him.” You need a much harder hitting and substantive tune.


By —— Bio and Archives April 3, 2012

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Dear Mitt,

I received your letter asking me to pledge my support and make a contribution of up to $2,500 to your campaign for the presidency.  The letter is disappointing.  In its four single-spaced pages, there are only two short substantive paragraphs that criticize President Obama’s performance.  In those you discuss the increase in the Federal budget, the growth in the deficit and the number of unemployed.  What I find sad is that you got two out of the three wrong, and your errors are in the President’s favor.

You wrote, “President Obama has mortgaged our future, increased the budget by more than 20% and allowed our debt to skyrocket.”  Your point is well taken except for the fact that he has increased the budget not by 20% but by 26.7%.  For fiscal year 2008, the last full fiscal year of the Bush administration the Federal budget was 3 trillion dollars, for the current fiscal year it is 3.8 trillion, that’s a 26.7% increase.  Your letter should have read that Obama has increased the budget by more than 25%. 

With regard to unemployment, you wrote, “Unemployment is not just a statistic … nearly 13 million Americans unemployed is not just a number.”  You are correct to call the high number of unemployed “a moral tragedy,” but you are being as naïve as the media when you accept the official government 8.3% unemployment rate.  Even the liberal leaning Economist in its March 17, 2012 briefing on the American economy included a chart showing that the real unemployment rate was not the 8.3% the Obama administration would have you believe but 15% when you included those who were so discouraged that they had given up looking for work.  Governor, the number of unemployed is not “nearly 13 million,” it is 23 million.

The Obama administration is parading about the statistic that the job market is improving because in February there were 200,000 fewer people looking for work than in the prior month.  If you simply accept that number instead of asking how many of those 200,000 found jobs and how many just gave up looking for work, then you might as well throw in the towel right now.

Your letter makes no mention of Obama’s failed energy policy, the high cost of gasoline and the increasing food prices.  There is nothing about illegal immigration.  Not a word about missile defense, North Korea or Iran.  Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq has led to a situation where Iran now has more influence there than the U.S. does.  Yet you are mute about this as you are about the fact that Islamist parties now control Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, that Obama’s Middle East policy is a shambles, his actions have placed Israel in more peril than at any time since its creation, and his recent moves in Afghanistan have given hope to a resurgent Taliban that U.S. forces will soon be withdrawn.  Governor, if you disagree with the President’s economic and foreign policies, this letter would have been a good place to forcefully explain why you disagree and what you would do differently. 

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The unforgivable crime is soft hitting.”  Your letter reads more like it was written by a contestant in a pillow fight rather than a candidate for president of the United States.  Your letter is repetitious, filled with platitudes and lacking in substance.  You write that you “know how jobs are created and how jobs are lost” and that, as president, your “focus will be on getting Americans back to work.”  Yet there is not a single substantive statement as to how you plan to accomplish that.  The closest you come is the following:

  • Foster an economic environment conducive to job creation;
  • Jumpstart economic growth by lowering taxes and easing regulatory burdens;
  • Reform entitlements; making them sustainable for future generations;
  • Repeal Obamacare; and
  • Strengthen a military battered by 10 years of war and facing cuts by the Obama administration.


You call this a “bold agenda,” but you fail to provide a single specific. What regulatory burdens do you intend to eliminate?  What are your tax proposals?  It shouldn’t have been difficult to summarize them.  For example, you might have written, I will propose permanently eliminating the estate tax, lowering the corporate and capital gains tax rates to—%, reducing the number of tax brackets to – and reducing the rates in each bracket so that the highest marginal tax rate that any American will pay would be—%.  What are your plans for reforming entitlements?  How do you intend to strengthen our military?  Do you plan to raise military pay, focus on new technologies, and increase the number of ships and aircraft?  Again, is it that hard for you to summarize your proposals?

Does your “bold agenda” include any foreign policy objectives?  If it does, then you should have specified what they are and how you plan to accomplish them.  It also would not have been a bad idea if you had pointed out that to accomplish anything significant, especially something like the repeal of Obamacare, you will need for the Republicans to retain control of the House and regain control of the Senate.

Harry Truman believed that if you walked down the main street of any mid-size American city, you would pass a half-dozen men who given the opportunity would rise to the occasion and make a pretty good president of the United States.  I have no doubt that you are one of those men.  But if the letter I received is any indication of the campaign you intend to run, should you receive the Republican nomination, then you will almost surely lose the election.  You cannot win by singing, “Anything Obama can do I can do better, I can do anything better than him.”  You need a much harder hitting and substantive tune.

Sincerely,


Al Kaltman -- Bio and Archives | Click to view Comments

Al Kaltman is a political science professor who teaches a leadership studies course at George Washington University.  He is the author of Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant. .