Today at 11:00 a.m., I voted for Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States.
Six months ago, I would have been shocked to see that sentence beneath my byline, much less feel myself type it on my keyboard. In the 2008 and 2012 Republican primaries, I was one of Romney’s fiercest critics in the commentariat. I fervently supported former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani four years ago and battered Romney in hopes of easing the way for America’s Mayor. Clearly, too few GOP-primary voters read my pieces. Perhaps my verbs and adjectives should have been stronger.
This year, I promoted Governor Rick Perry of Texas and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain. And then they crashed and burned.
A stronger sense of philosophical consistency on Romney’s part would have comforted me. Also, like a bloodhound, once I fix on a scent, I find it very hard to forget it and move on. Having pilloried Romney since the fall of 2007, why stop?
Nonetheless, Romney secured the GOP nomination, which made him the only man who could defeat President Obama. That, at least, bought my grudging approval.
However, I began warming to Romney once he picked Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate. The youthful and attractive House Budget Chairman has been one of my favorites on Capitol Hill. I have followed Ryan’s career with admiration, studied his speeches and proposals, and frequently written about him. Agree or disagree with Ryan, it is impossible to dispute that he is an incredibly bright, focused, and energetic man who can navigate every twist and turn in the labyrinthine federal budget. He also is deadly serious about halting the non-stop spend-o-rama that both parties have fueled for decades, but which Obama has accelerated to warp speed.
Throughout the fall campaign, Romney has become an increasingly fluent and persuasive advocate for implementing free-market ideas and reducing Washington’s footprint. Romney virtually sang in my ears in Morrisville, Pennsylvania Sunday night when I watched him tell some 25,000 freezing supporters: “Paul Ryan and I are going to limit government, instead of limiting the dreams of our fellow Americans.”
Romney’s years at Bain Capital and his business acumen suggest that the Oval Office will be populated by a competent manager and hands-on leader. As Edward Klein’s fascinating book The Amateur richly documents, when Obama is not in over his head, he is even worse: AWOL on some 105 golf outings, absent from 56 percent of his Presidential Daily Briefings on national security (through last May 31), campaigning in Las Vegas rather than consulting his top national-security advisers the day after al-Qaeda slaughtered four U.S. public servants in Benghazi, and laughing it up with David Letterman and Beyonce and MTV instead of appearing publicly with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to remind Iran’s atomic ayatollahs that America has Israel’s back.
Mitt Romney is the badly needed antidote to the unbearable lightness of being Barack Obama.
I knew that Romney was generous. However, I was impressed when he donated 29 percent of his income to charity last year. Far more stunning is the action-hero nature of his assistance to those in peril. Romney personally led his entire Bain Capital team in an intrepid and successful search for a colleague’s 14-year-old daughter who had vanished in New York City. He dashed into a burning house to remove a neighbor’s furniture and other possessions before firefighters arrived. On two occasions, he raced out on a jet ski and then a boat to rescue total strangers who faced serious danger on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee.
Romney is a man of high character and significant courage. The White House badly needs an occupant with integrity.
Romney also is not Barack Obama . . . and that’s not nothing.
Obama is a one-man wrecking crew. He has trashed the U.S. economy and increased the national debt by more than all federal borrowing from George Washington through George H.W. Bush. Obama’s Niagara Falls of spending might be less odious had it bought anything. Instead, $833 billion in stimulus later, the unemployment rate has moved from 7.8 percent when Obama arrived to 7.9 percent today. America has spent four years on the road to nowhere.
When the U.S. Department of Energy spends $578,000 to create each “green job,” and the U.S. Department of Agriculture devotes $2 million to create an intern program, and then hires exactly one intern, they confirm the danger of letting Washington spend other people’s money. Like those General Services Administration bureaucrats who whooped it up at a taxpayer-funded retreat at a Las Vegas resort, Obama exhibits no sense of stewardship over the tax dollars that run through his fingers like the sands of Waikiki.
From the 12,000 pages of red tape already spewing forth from ObamaCare, to the 243 new rules gushing into the economy, thanks to Dodd-Frank; to the EPA’s $4.8 million in fines slapped on oil refiners who do not blend cellulosic ethanol into their fuels — even though that fantasy fuel does not exist, Team Obama’s regulatory jackhammer needs to be disabled and dropped into the Bermuda Triangle.
If reelected, Barack Obama will be as left-wing as ever, with punitive tax hikes, extravagant new “investments,” and stricter Obamacare regulations just around the corner. But this time, no more Mr. Nice Guy — particularly since he no longer will face the American electorate. Obama has devolved from a buoyant and inspiring presence in 2008 (policies aside) into a mean, nasty, divisive, petulant, thin-skinned class warrior in 2012. “Hope” has become “revenge.” Having endured the inconvenience of not being re-elected by acclamation, Obama would spend the next four years giving Americans even more big government — good and hard.
I wish Barack Obama a very successful new career as a librarian. An academic like him should be thrilled to build an entire library dedicated to preserving his legacy, such as it is, all funded with — you guessed it — taxpayer dollars. May Obama thrive on this new path and embark upon it at 12:01 p.m. on January 20, 2013.
Until then, an election is afoot. So, in my biggest flip-flop ever, I hereby write the following sentence with abundant enthusiasm:
I proudly voted today for Mitt Romney for President, and I urge my fellow Americans to do the same.
The one and only.