President Obama had lunch today with Mitt Romney and one of the topics they discussed was Romney's plan for making "government more efficient."
Obama has praised Romney for his work in running the Olympics and for his skills that could lend themselves to making the government work better, said Jay Carney, White House spokesman.
Certainly Romney has great passion and experience for restructuring and downsizing inefficient companies.
If any organization is dysfunctional and outrageously expensive for what we get in return, it is the Department of Defense... a Mitt Romney, when not catering to right-wing Tea Party zealots, surely recognizes that. Maybe Romney could outsource some of these defensive duties to our erstwhile allies overseas.
Does the Pentagon really need to keep up 234 golf courses around the world?
Do we really need more than a 1,000 foreign military bases ?
Does the U.S. need to spend as much on its military as the next 14 powers combined?
Who is our significant enemy -- a few thousand terrorists, a couple of feeble outlaw nations -- and, more critically: are our 14 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers the right way to protect ourselves?
Are increased drone strikes the best way to retaliate against terrorists, or are they creating more animosity and terror against the United States in the long-run?
Romney is a numbers guy and a great businessman; he should be able to figure out what we need, what we don't need, and how to trim the fat. These business skills could be put to great use at the Department of Defense.
Traditionally, the best secretaries of defense have come from a business background. Think Charles Erwin Wilson and Robert McNamara. Moreover, Romney has some credibility in the Republican Party. His appointment to defense secretary would be a step toward fusing the bipartisan rift that has been growing for years, and now gapes ever wider after our last election.
Another added benefit, if Obama names Romney instead of frontrunner Senator John Kerry, is keeping Kerry in the Senate -- (and keeping wannabe-Republican Senator Scott Brown out.)
We know that Obama has great admiration for Lincoln's "team of rivals," and in this contentious age, when so much needs to be done and everything is stalled, a Romney appointment might be just the move to break out of this gridlock.
If a cabinet post is not in the offing, perhaps Romney could head a commission examining our two most expensive and bloated programs, defense and health. Ex-presidents have had valuable public service roles, (how about Bill Clinton for the next secretary of state?) but we should not overlook the role that competent ex-presidential candidates can play. It might just make governing a little easier.
Wouldn't this be a more fitting final chapter for Mitt Romney than a life of downsizing companies, jet skiing around Lake Winnipesaukee, or fighting with his California neighbors about the size of his car elevators?
Write to Jfleetwood@aol.com