Saturday, September 1, 2012

Media Endorsements Don’t Matter – Except One in The Economist Does

An Objective Examination of Mitt Romney

Newspapers and news media like to endorse candidates.  For the most part this doesn’t matter.  Everyone knows that the Wall Street Journal will endorse Mitt Romney, in fact that was one of the reasons he chose Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.  And everyone knows the New York Times will endorse Barack Obama.  It’s a given.  For the most part these endorsements are predictable and irrelevant.

But an endorsement by The Economist magazine is an important event. The Economist has credibility.  First of all it is British publication, and so has a much more objective look at American elections than Americans do.  Second, The Economist is a center/right publication.  It embraces the less government regulation, private markets, lower taxes and support of free enterprise that tends to be a larger part of the Republican party than the Democrats.  In fact, The Economist would like to like Mr. Romney.

this newspaper finds much to like in the history of this uncharismatic but dogged man, from his obvious business acumen to the way he worked across the political aisle as governor to get health reform passed and the state budget deficit down. We share many of his views about the excessive growth of regulation and of the state in general in America, and the effect that this has on investment, productivity and growth. After four years of soaring oratory and intermittent reforms, why not bring in a more businesslike figure who might start fixing the problems with America’s finances?

But in a withering examination of Mr. Romney The Economists cuts through the spin to reach these conclusions.

But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection.

A critical element of their attack is Mr. Romney's failure to produce any specifics about his plans and programs.  Yes he says he will cut government spending and move to remove regulations.    But

On the spending side, Mr Romney is promising both to slim Leviathan and to boost defence spending dramatically. So what is he going to cut? How is he going to trim the huge entitlement programmes? Which bits of Mr Ryan’s scheme does he agree with? It is a little odd that the number two has a plan and his boss doesn’t. And it is all very well promising to repeal Barack Obama’s health-care plan and the equally gargantuan Dodd-Frank act on financial regulation, but what exactly will Mr Romney replace them with—unless, of course, he thinks Wall Street was well-regulated before Lehman went bust?

So the final conclusion of what might be the most objective observer of America is this.

Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind. America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper.

Of course the only problem here is that America may vote for this man.  Unlimited money combined with a fawning uncritical media may well yet elect Mr. Romney.  

1 comment:

  1. If only the American electorate understood this