Churning and shaking what little faith we have in the economy isn't leadership -- it's the reverse: bad for our country, and for each of us. Yet Mr. Romney is spending big money to do just that. Rather than painting his picture of the better future he would build if elected, he's investing in our anxiety, stripping away what little hope we may have. He's doing this knowing full-well the economy lives or dies on public confidence.
While media outlets and pundits are practically telling him to hit the President's economic performance, his execution leaves something to be desired. Mr. Romney's campaign of gloom is simply unethical. He needs to change his tune unless he wants to continue a strategy that screams, "I don't give a crap about America -- I just want to win."
By the way, we're not stupid. We know things are tough, and it's going to take more time. Yet with his war chest of Super PAC money, Mr. Romney elects to saturate us with negative economic messages. He's likely feeling good about the checks he's writing, because his fear strategy is working. A new Times/CBS poll out today shows people are losing what little confidence they had in the state of the economy. Brilliant!
Imagine if he spent big to say, "We're going to lose this war." He would be criticized for giving aid and comfort to our enemies. Glad to see he's not doing that on Afghanistan. Why? Because that would be wrong. Yet our economy is a battlefield right here at home. And low public confidence is the enemy, and Mr. Romney is more than willing not only to give it comfort, but to invest in it.
Meantime President Obama's message is that there's reason for hope, that things are bad, but better than they were, and it's going to take more time. That it will take more than one term is something the President said when he was inaugurated -- it's not news.
In contrast to the President, Mr. Romney is clearly willing to sacrifice the present situation -- to make it worse -- in order to get his way. It has an impact. If you set out to convince a majority the earth is triangular, with the kind of money Romney is spending, over a period of months, you'd end up having to get NASA involved to refute it.
If Mr. Romney were committed to leadership based on strong values, he would be painting the what and how of the future he will create -- his vision, and a roadmap to achieve it.
So in Romney's war of economic words, shaking the very public confidence in the economy, so necessary to sustain its recovery, we are all "collateral damage."
David Peck is an Executive Coach and author of "Beyond Effective: Practices in Self-aware Leadership" (Trafford: 2008).