I just read an interesting piece over at the Washington Post about Gov. Romney’s continued refusal to discuss the matters journalists (virtually alone) love to talk about: the ins and outs of political tactics. The Post comments Gov. Romney as follows:
It will come as no surprise to you that in the business world, and in the political world, that we tend not to reveal our strategy to our competitors, so you’ll wait and see what we’ll do.
It seems to me this comment has relevance well beyond the (boring) topics of ad buys and Des Moines office space. Why? Because there’s also a frustration out there, generally among conservative wonks in and out of the media, that Gov. Romney is not spelling out exactly what he’d do in the White House about our nation’s most pressing–and most politically radioactive–fiscal issues, particularly Social Security and Medicare. And while he’s said a little lately about entitlements, earning the praise of Congressman Paul Ryan, he hasn’t said as much as the nerds of the right would like.
Since I myself am a nerd of the right, this gets my mind going about recent political history. Few remember it now, but when current conservative heartthrob Chris Christie was running for the governorship of New Jersey in 2009, he had stiff competition on the right from a former mayor named Steve Lonegan. As I said on EFM, I was for Mayor Lonegan. And you heard the same criticism then of Gov. Christie that you hear now of Gov. Romney: He won’t say what exactly he’ll do. No one had any idea during that campaign that Gov. Christie would boldly take on the teachers’ unions and everyone else.
With 20/20 hindsight, I have to admit that Gov. Christie had the right strategy, much as the nerd in me hates to say so. If he’d gone beyond vaguely promising to bring back fiscal sanity and publicly announced the way he intended to take on the teachers’ unions, we’d be in the middle of Gov. Jon Corzine’s second term right now (and Wall Street would look rather different). Similarly, when it comes to presidential politics, the nerd in me wants Gov. Romney to move from talking about his experience turning troubled enterprises around and tell us exactly which sacred cows he’d like to slaughter in D.C. But the former Steve Lonegan supporter in me wonders whether the same principle isn’t at work here as is discussed in the Post article: The ex-CEO doesn’t want to tell his competitors the details of his plans, and would be crazy to do so.