Weekly Standard Online
October 4, 2012
by Irwin Stelzer
Permit me to add two points to the comments on the first presidential debate. First, no one seems to have noticed that after extolling Americans for "their genius, their grit, their determination," the president said that everything he has tried to do and will do if reelected is to see that these virtues are "channeled" so Americans have an opportunity to succeed. It takes a big government politician to believe that his role is to "channel" rather than "unleash" American grit, genius, and determination, and make sure they are aimed in a direction the government chooses rather than leave it to gritty, determined geniuses to decide themselves on the best use of their talents.
Second, Mitt Romney told us more about just how his business experience makes him qualified to hold the nation's highest office. America's main problem-the one that creates virtually all the others that concern us-is political stalemate. Unless partisanship can be tempered (not eliminated, heaven forfend) the deficit (not the oceans) will rise, sequestration will gut our military and tip us into recession, businesses will respond to uncertainty by refusing to invest, and another brawl over the debt ceiling will unnerve an already nervous bond vigilantes, driving up interest rates.
Rather than answer repeated requests for more and more specifics, Romney explained that the art of negotiation doesn't mean "my way or the highway"-the Obama approach that forced all Republicans to vote against Obamacare since their suggestions for changes could not even be considered given the Obama negotiation technique. Romney knew from his thousands of business negotiations that you go into a meeting with certain principles in mind, and (dare I say it) certain red lines that will not be crossed, and then try to get a deal by accommodating the real needs of the other side. That's both good business and good politics (as many things are not).
Irwin Stelzer is a Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies for the Hudson Institute. He is also the U.S. economist and political columnist for The Sunday Times (London) and The Courier Mail (Australia), a columnist for The New York Post, and an honorary fellow of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies for Wolfson College at Oxford University. He is the founder and former president of National Economic Research Associates and a consultant to several U.S. and United Kingdom industries on a variety of commercial and policy issues. He has a doctorate in economics from Cornell University and has taught at institutions such as Cornell, the University of Connecticut, New York University, and Nuffield College, Oxford.
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