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The camel’s back has been broken – an undecided decides.

September 15, 2012

steinmetz-camel-shadows-615I enthusiastically voted for Obama in 2008 but the sloth like economic recovery and the endless war in Afghanistan have tempered that enthusiasm to the point that I would have carefully considered a credible alternative in 2012. I watched with disappointment as the fringe members of the Republican Party separated the wheat from the chaff in their primary and now it would appear ended up with the chaff.

The Economy

Nevertheless I tried to objectively evaluate Romney to glean any message that would indicate he would be any better suited than Obama to ameliorate our economic woes. Although he touted his success in making money as a credential for running the federal government that argument just didn’t seem to make much sense. The skills required to make money in private equity are quite dissimilar from those political skills required to govern effectively. Understanding Wall Street is not the same as understanding Main Street.

However, if the Governor had articulated his plan for economic recovery I would still have given it its due consideration. But since no tangible economic plan has emerged any logic-based reason to vote for Romney on an economic basis remains elusive. As it stands right now, and etiolated as it may be, America is indisputably in an economic recovery. We are crawling back from a financial cliff the depths of which we will fortunately never know. I tend to buy the argument that the actions of Obama averted not a depression but a true melt down. But then, counterfactuals have always been difficult to argue persuasively.

Healthcare

Obamacare and Romneycare? Both programs have the same theme that makes complete sense to me. Maybe it’s that I don’t understand insurance but my thought is that insurance works best when everyone is covered and everyone pays. I think you need both parts – payment and coverage. Among developed countries, America spends far more on healthcare but doesn’t have the best outcomes so something had to be done.

Romneycare works in Massachusetts and the ultimate Federal solution will be some variation of Obamacare. What doesn’t ring true from Romney are his statements that he will keep all the popular parts of Obamacare such as no preexisting condition limits and allowing youth to remain on their parents policy until the age of 26 while at the same time removing the individual mandate. If insurance coverage costs X then having revenues of X-Y will be problematic, but then I’m not a business person like the Governor.

Core beliefs

I like my leaders to have a moral talisman that guides their thinking -something that lets me know not only who they are at the moment but who they will be in unforeseen circumstances. Romney’s pleomorphic positions on a wide range of topics have been persistent, reliable and bothersome. From one day to the next I’m not sure which policy contradiction will be the topic of the day.

I think I understand the basis for such vacillation. Mr. Romney is a business person and has made his fortune by identifying and supporting winners. Part of that process is to quickly drop your enthusiasm for a business that is not performing and switch to something else. Clearly that’s good policy for making money at Bain but has little value in leading a country. I don’t agree with everything Obama has done but his consistency reassures me that he is guided by a thought process that is founded on principles not expediency. I find that reassuring.

The straw

For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the amateurish ineptitude displayed by Romney in responding to the embassy’s attacks in Cairo and Benghazi. This was a seminal moment to understand how a President Romney would respond to an international crisis that involved the loss of American lives. He fell dangerously short. His reactionary, knee-jerk response was based on faulty information and unambiguously political in nature. In his rush to show his leadership he succeeded only in showing he had none. It is a minimal expectation that the President of the United States will get their facts straight and not rush to judgments that exacerbate volatile situations.

In the days following the initial attacks, Romney’s refusal to acknowledge his factual error solidified my belief that he lacks the temperament to be our president. His foreign policy, such as it is, seems to be from a past generation when relations were among countries with established governments that had the capability of governing. It seems dangerously naive for someone who would be president to not recognize that the Libyan and Egyptian governments are not exactly in control of all elements in their society.

We do not live in the black and white world of the past where America’s adversaries could be easily identified as nation states. Now, our adversaries are not contained within the geographical border of their country of residence. They are united by all the tools, capabilities and ubiquity of the internet. As emotionally rewarding as it might feel to some, saber rattling is  rapidly becoming only an ineffective self-indulgence and a relic of the past. Al Qaeda doesn’t care if Romney lambasts Libya, in fact, it likely serves their purpose. We need a leader that recognizes that the world has more shades of gray than ever before and recognizes the subtleties of leadership.

Chaff

Mr. Romney seems like a very nice guy and he’s made a lot of money. It has become clear to me that neither of those are qualifications to be president. It is unfortunate that the primary process has devolved to the point that candidates win by pandering to a minority of their voters. Serious, moderate politicians that adhere to their principles have no chance and the result is that we end up with chaff. I hope that the voters in the general election will be better at winnowing than those who voted in the primary.

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