When the Framers of the current Constitution set out to replace the prior Articles of Confederation, they did that with the thought of having a strong, energetic executive in place. Continued threats from Europe plus the events of Shay’s Rebellion emblazoned on their minds the need for an executive that could react quickly to national emergencies.
Remember the last thing they wanted was a monarch or some other authoritarian figure in place. They’d just fought a revolution for the purpose of getting away from the tyranny embodied in the British monarch. At the same time they knew that securing the safety of the citizenry also meant having in an executive not tethered by too many procedural rules for engaging enemies, both foreign and domestic.
Mitt Romney did not show that energy. Some of his supporters today are arguing that it was a part of his strategy to look subdued; to stay above the fray by hitting highpoints thus looking presidential. If that was the tactic, then it didn’t work for me.
What we got from Mr. Romney was a checklist of some basic theory you may read in political science 101; the stuff you’d put on a pop quiz just to get a “C” and keep on moving. We also got Mr. Romney moving back to his comfort zone, the economy. His attempts to tie the economy into foreign policy were clumsy where he seemed to make foreign policy a mere backdrop for the rehashing of the first debate. Repeating the first debate, in my opinion, only emboldened Mr. Obama, for not only was he able to show his foreign policy chops, but was also able to erase the memory of a listless performance on domestic affairs with an invigorated performance on both subjects.
What Americans need to realize is that while the president by law is required to monitor the economy and give Congress an update on the economy’s status, the free market framework of the economy also means the president has little to no control over it. We do not live in a centralized, command and control economy where an American president gets to go Stalinista on determining output and pricing. His first and primary duty is the protection of the Commonwealth from domestic and foreign threats.
Unfortunately, Mitt Romney never took the time to distinguish himself enough from Barack Obama to help us understand why we should waste time, energy, and money transitioning from one administration to another.