Jan Weatherhead writes from Washington: For the Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney there is no silly season, apart from what he says sometimes. He has now opened a new campaign line against President Obama saying that the US President is letting individual states apply to get out of the 1996 Bill Clinton welfare law.
Smother the yawns because this is not as esoteric or downright boring as it seems because Romney then says: ‘We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work.’
Romney is stretching the truth and the imagination of the Americans. Yes, there are Americans who sneak round the backdoor of the system picking up handouts to the tune of I Need A Dollar (Go listen to the brilliant Aloe Blacc version).
But America has yet to abandon its dream that comes through hard work and getting that magic dollar in return. Romney knows that, but then this is politics. No presidential election would be complete without a bunch of smears and lies. Like most Romney campaign statements, this latest one has no legs. It won’t run. So what do they do next? Here’s what.
In the Grand Old Party backroom, there is a sensational trade being negotiated with the one person who can lift Romney over the presidential line this coming November. Forget all bets for the moment. Suspend, just for the moment, Bill Clinton’s famous truth ‘It’s The Economy Stupid’. Because what Romney’s party and what the Obama camp really want to know is this: who will be Mitt’s running mate?
Why is this so important for a position that produces nothing more than someone whose main constitutional role is to be a heartbeat away from the White House and to be sent to the best funerals in Addis Ababa as the stoic Andrei Gromyko once observed?
The answer is complex: Romney, like most presidential candidates, is a dummy on foreign policy and particularly on trick questions sike: will ALL US troops be home from Afghanistan by the fall of 2014? The answer to that is: no they will not in spite of what the White House says.
So Mitt needs someone who is not going to get tongue-tied and trip into a fool’s bucket when that sort of curve ball comes in low and fast a couple of weeks before voting day. Who better to show that a Republican administration will know what it’s talking about and won’t need an eighteen month file reading do nothing period after taking office? Step up to the plate General David Petraeus.
Above even that practical consideration, Petraeus has another attraction for the Romney team – America is still tired, down-trodden and feels let down. This is why Obama could well be a one term President. In the simplest terms, America needs a hero. You may think they have Michael Phelps. Yes. But they’ve already got him and no matter his achievement in the Olympic pool, he’s not going to stop more sons being killed by Taliban IEDs.
Republicans can warm to Petraeus. Uncommitted maybe-Democrats can feel reassured that he brings a bit of class to the store.
And of course, America has a history of having military men rubbing shoulders with political power. General Eisenhower became president; General Haig became Reagan’s Secretary of State; General Colin Powell became the 65th Secretary of State when he agreed to serve in George W Bush’s Administration. Powell, of course, was instinctively a Democrat and served a Republican White House. So with Petraeus, we can forget the politics.
There’s a drawback, of course: would Petraeus actually want the job? If one day he wanted to be President, why yes he would. For now it’s simpler than future ambitions: the US needs a hero. Obama is no hero. Romney most certainly is not. So if the US needs an All American four star gold bar, then Romney (or even Obama?) must provide one for the voters. Romney and Petraeus could be the dream ticket that swings November.