Smallball Politics?

In National Review today, Rich Lowry writes that the Romney campaign deserves some credit for jumping on the Hilary Rosen comments and reversing the “War on Women” trope that the Democrats were beginning to develop.

And yet, he suggests, the Romney people are wrong to dwell on this:

Romney is right when he says that what women really care about is the economy. But he shouldn’t get drawn into debating on the terms of an Obama reelection campaign desperate to play demographic small ball and elevate distractions over the big issues: an unaffordable and dubiously constitutional health-care law, an 8.2 percent unemployment rate, a $14 trillion debt. In this case, the high road is the best road. If Romney’s vision for the country’s future is compelling enough, the women’s vote will take care of itself.

Rich is right that Romney so far hasn’t given us the big policy ideas that might define and compel a election. There have been three reasons for that, I think: First that he’s been so very, very careful about everything: as battened-down a campaign as I’ve ever seen. Second, his temperament forces it, too: This is a manager-type, not a philosophizer.

But the third reason is his campaign’s clear judgment that modern elections are only lost on the level of serious policy. They’re won by working above policy (on the level of broad inspiration like “Hope and Change”) and below policy (on the level of little mocking memes and missteps like the current Rosen stuff).

Is that correct? Leave aside the question of whether it ought to be right. The question I’m looking for help on is whether the Romney campaign is right electorally to avoid big policy, or Rich Lowry is right that big policy will win the campaign all by itself.



  • Bill

    After Obamacare, voters will be wary of big policy changes. A gradually changed system is more palatable. Pensions, medicare, SS, energy, etc. all can be changed incrementally. However, social issues can not and will not be ignored by either party.

  • Joe M

    What defines a “big policy”? Romney published an economic plan long ago. Then added more ambitious tax reform half-way through the primary. He supports the Ryan plan. — I’m not sure what more he should do in that regard, at this point. I think the strategy is right to go toe-to-toe when the Democrats make their false accusations. They’ve been getting too much mileage out of nonsense like “war on women” and “taking away contraception.”



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