Monday, October 1, 2012

Become the enemy

There’s too much talk about the upcoming presidential debate on Wednesday, October 3. While the Obama camp downplays expectations, conservative pundits exhort Romney to not hold back. I too would like to see Romney release the hounds, but I suspect he won’t for fear of being called bad names.

Romney comes from corporate America, which for the most part stays away from controversy so as not to divide customers and weaken mass appeal. His instinct is to shun so-called social issues like marriage, Title IX, affirmative action, “equal pay,” abortion, lowered lending standards, etc. He comments on these matters when pressed, but by and large he is loathe to bring them up on his own because he doesn’t think they’re winners.

This worked during the primaries, when Romney passed himself off as the mainstream candidate standing to the left of Rick Santorum, a Catholic unafraid to couch his arguments in stark moral terms. Now that Santorum is out of the running, most of his supporters have put their faith in Romney to restore a proper sense of God in government. Romney will gladly accept their votes, but he won’t tout them in the general election. Like those two summers you spent flipping burgers, social conservative support won’t find its way onto Romney’s CV.

The premise for every question in the presidential debates will be that to support same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, et al. is morally self-evident. Rather than argue said premises, Romney will offer soft bromides such as, “I won’t restrict women’s access to contraceptives,” and “I don’t agree with what Todd Akin said,” and “I will vet political appointees based on their merits, not their sexual orientation.”

The debate moderators will set several “War On Women” traps for Romney, and he will dodge them with lengthy, equivocating answers. He will probably tout the number women who spoke at the Republican National Convention, a pathetic preemptive strategy that kept equally if not more qualified speakers off the stage. But he won’t have a substantive argument against “equal pay” unless he embraces Shocking Truth #1: Women are better suited and more willing to do most of the childrearing, which limits women’s commitment in the workplace. Shocking Truth #2: The income gap has narrowed as women have fewer children. Shocking Truth #3: Single, childless women actually outearn single men in the same jobs.

No matter what extent to which they stir up the Left with hard truths, Republican nominees for high office will always be painted as the enemy to liberals’ pet causes. Arguments have been lost because conservatives, hoping to prove they’re the good guys, lamely cede the narrative to the Left.

The Left understands it is at war. In war, you hate your enemy. My advice to Romney is to become the enemy. Embrace their hate. Take back the narrative. Win the argument.

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