Think Mitt Romney needs to offer more detailed policy proposals now to win the presidential election in November? The Weekly Standard‘s Jay Cost says the recent historical record suggests that’s just not true.
I gave a close read to the nine convention addresses of nominees who eventually defeated the incumbent party – FDR in 1932, Eisenhower in 1952, JFK in 1960, Nixon in 1968, Carter in 1976, Reagan in 1980, Clinton in 1992, Bush in 2000, and Obama in 2008.
Each speech basically follows the same structure:
(1) The state of the union is in shambles.
(2) The incumbent president is to blame.
(3) The noble history of the American public demands a change in power.
(4) Therefore, elect me.
The only thing that really separates one speech from another is point (3), when presidential candidates usually connect their biography to the history of the country. Eisenhower referenced his military career; JFK his youthfulness; Carter his moral integrity; Clinton his middle class background; Obama his diversity. You get the idea.
What about policy specifics? They are typically lacking. Sure, presidential candidates will promote big policy goals – like full employment, universal health care, a good education for every child. But they hardly ever talk about the ways to accomplish these goals. In other words, they give the listener few bankable promises. …
… I would not expect Mitt Romney to deviate much from this script.
Conservatives who view themselves as part of a reformist movement are bound to be disappointed with this. I appreciate that, but I think it speaks to the disconnect between conservatives and conservative politicians. The former are involved in politics because they want to accomplish big things. The latter may have gotten in to politics to do big things, but they are careerists whose goal above all is to win.