Last week the New York Times unsurprisingly endorsed Barack Obama for a second term as U.S. President. The oddly named "paper of record" did not make even a slight attempt to understand, let alone support, even one of Mr. Romney's policies. It was a straight-up hack job that failed to meaningfully and fairly address the most pressing concerns of the nation: unprecedented debt and deficit, a disgraceful credit downgrade, a porous southern border, the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, 45 million Americans on Food Stamps, one-sixth of America below the poverty line, and a petty president who, until his grown-up speech in Hollywood, Florida yesterday afternoon, preferred to childishly joke about "Binders, Big Bird, and Bayonets."
As those liberal Columbia Journalism School geniuses at the Times penned their rewrite of truth -- "taxes" become "revenue," "abortion" becomes "women's health," "illegal aliens" become "undocumented immigrants," in the Times' laughably misleading nomenclature -- in Iran, the Holocaust-denying president is four years closer to a nuclear bomb. Moreover, the Iranian opposition is in unsupported retreat.
Meanwhile, in Russia, Mr. Putin has strengthened his czar-like grip on power, while continually flaunting his government's opposition to American overtures at the UN, most tragically related to the atrocities in Syria. North Korea continues its bellicose ways, despite a change in leadership that provided Mr. Obama a fresh opportunity for Myanmar-like reform in that rogue nuclear backwater. A bellicose China flexes its muscles in the South China Sea. Pakistan remains more unhelpful than ever in addressing terror inside its territory, as Al Qaeda's presence metastasizes in North Africa.
While Mr. Obama took a courageously hard line on Israeli settlements, and rhetorically helped engender the Arab Spring, his pronouncements have not emboldened peace with the Palestinians. Rather, they have pushed the two sides even more apart.
It's as if the New York Times is living in a parallel reality where facts and performance don't matter; only good intentions and the ability to disguise facts under politically correct rhetoric do.
If you believe that this election is about a woman's right to a partial birth abortion, further expansion of our student loan bubble, and the highly touted, if hard to personally discern, benefits of ObamaCare, then you should vote for Mr. Obama.
After all, underneath the unbecoming nature of the president's reelection campaign -- the ad accusing Mr. Romney of causing a woman's death by cancer was surely the low point -- Barack Obama is a decent and elegant man with a huge heart. I love his lanky, slightly laconic, Maui wowie affect. I love his emotionally intelligent response to tragedy. I love that, like Crotty, he regularly plays pickup basketball. And I adore his captivating and cool hipness. As I noted in a previous Huffington Post column, when Mr. Obama sang a bar of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at Harlem's Apollo Theater in January of this year, you can't help but like the guy.
More important than the president's endearing demeanor, I approve of many of his policy achievements. I applaud the president for ending DADT, finally endorsing gay marriage, offing Bin Laden, withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, and pushing for higher fuel efficiency standards. Moreover, he and Secretary Clinton have done yeoman's work in repairing America's image abroad after the disastrously incompetent tenure of George W. Bush.
Unfortunately, as deeply gratifying as these accomplishments are, they are not the preeminent issues of this election. Jobs, GDP, and fiscal solvency are. And, on those fronts, Mr. Obama has been missing in action.
I passionately applaud the president when he eloquently speaks about helping those "who've been left behind" by the global economy. However, I do not believe he has a credible plan to make that vision happen.
Past performance is the best predictor of future behavior. At the current rate of unemployment and population growth, former U.S. Labor Department Commissioner Keith Hall estimates that it will take this country 9 or 10 more years to get back to the rate of "full employment" we enjoyed before the Great Recession. That's just too long, Mr. President.
If we were in a place of robust jobs, income, and GDP growth, and our entitlement mess was under control, Barack Obama would be the right president to bring the U.S. into the 21st century on issues like global warming, universal health care, and civil rights for gay people and other minorities. After all, these are the kinds of issues that independents like me, and most of my dear liberal friends, vote on every election.
In fact, for these very reasons, in every election in which I have been able to vote, I voted Democratic. Moreover, I came of political age as a get-out-the-vote campaigner alongside Obama's very own mustachioed consigliore, David Axelrod, when we heroically elected Harold Washington the first African-American Democratic candidate for Mayor of Chicago on the unforgettably emotional night of February 22, 1983.
I know what it's like to make civil rights history and to campaign for liberal causes and candidates. I stumped hard for Jesse Jackson in 1988. I did the same for the irascible Jerry Brown in 1992. Moreover, I earned my lefty stripes before most of Obama's consensus-loving devotees and the cutesy, self-satisfied brats on MSNBC's ineptly named The Cycle were out of diapers.
Back in the day, I was far to the left of anything that Occupied Wall Street ever proposed, as my popular Forbes article on OWS made clear. Starting nearly three decades ago, my full-throttled embrace of the marginalized in my days at Monk Magazine makes a mockery of Obama's Johnny-come-lately support of now trendy issues like gay marriage. I have read my Sol Alinsky, my Leon Trotsky, my Marx, Marcuse, and Adorno. I know the left's critique of capitalism at my core.
Nevertheless, with all that said, and with all the good that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have brought to America and the world, I am making a rare exception this general election. The stakes are too high to let my progressive social and environmental values trump my concern for the economic future of this country. Moreover, I am making my decision on precisely those issues that the New York Times either deliberately failed to address or completely misread.
First, Barack Obama has been the worst president for the country's poor in modern memory. On Obama's watch, the number of Americans on Food Stamps has skyrocketed. One in six Americans currently lives in poverty. And their numbers grow with each passing day. That is a national disgrace, which can no longer be pinned on Mr. Obama's predecessor.
Mr. Obama keeps pandering to, and on behalf of, this voting bloc, but all he has to offer them is the beatific magnificence of his bi-racial being. His policies are empirically not helping poor people. Moreover, by further taxing job creators -- especially the 3 percent of small business owners who hire one-quarter of American workers -- he will only make the plight of the poor worse.Abraham Lincoln eloquently foretold the dangers of Mr. Obama's economic philosophy many years ago:
"You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."
Secondly, Mr. Obama has demagogued the issue of illegal immigration. While that demagoguery might propel him to victory in states like New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada -- which have large legal and illegal Hispanic populations -- the truth of unbridled illegal immigration is harming this country in huge ways. Not only because a sizable portion of the untaxed income made by illegal immigrants is repatriated back to countries of origin, but also because illegal immigration creates a caustic disrespect for the mores of this once proud and principled nation. If you think you can merely earn and learn all the privileges of being an American by paying some shyster to escort you illegally across a border -- as you steadfastly refuse to learn English once firmly ensconced in your linguistic "sub-community" here -- then you have zero understanding of what this extraordinary melting pot is about.
We are a nation of legal immigrants. And there are millions of hard-working folks from around the world, including many from Latin America, waiting patiently to gain legal admittance to this nation right now. However, illegal immigrants jump in line ahead of them, enabled by the policies of the Obama administration (which refuses to arrest, let alone deport, illegal immigrants unless they are found guilty of heinous crimes).
While illegal immigrants fill a range of jobs in a wide swath of the U.S. economy, most of them -- if we were brutally honest -- fill jobs that Americans "won't take," but would be propelled to take, if we simultaneously removed the initiative-sapping programs that enable legal Americans to remain unemployed.
Moreover, many of those who patiently, and legally, wait in line posses the very high-tech skills we actually need to remain globally competitive. I don't care how friendly, hard working, and God-fearing most illegal immigrants are. We don't need more dishwashers, fruit pickers, line cooks, day laborers, and gardeners. We need folks already educated in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Yes, a percentage of the anchor children of illegal immigrants will go on to pursue work in STEM or other high-need fields, as I urged in my popular Forbes piece on this topic. This is why even Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan correctly support some version of the Dream Act.
However, with all his disingenuous talk of reforming immigration, Mr. Obama still leaves in place the magnets (driver's licenses, prenatal care, low-cost tuition) and deliberately lax E-Verify enforcement that keep illegal immigrants streaming here in droves. Those inducements must end. Moreover, they will end during a Romney-Ryan administration. As a result, millions of jobs will open up for legal Americans and "dreamers," as we get control of our borders again, expand our H-1B visa program, and restore meaning to the rarefied privilege of being a U.S. citizen.
Thirdly, Mr. Obama will let this great nation slide off a fiscal cliff. Friends, the only unquestioned advantage that the U.S. currently has in the global economy is that the U.S. dollar is still the default currency of the planet. A major chink in the dollar's armor occurred when Obama backed out of a deal with southwest Ohio Representative, and Speaker of the House, John Boehner, to achieve a "grand bargain" on our crushing deficit.
Obama and the New York Times exclusively blame the fiscal fundamentalists in the Tea Party for this unnecessary tragedy. However, as carefully laid out by Bob Woodward in The Price of Politics, a more valid causal agent was Obama himself, who, as of 2010, did not even have John Boehner's phone number!
Moreover, Woodward notes, the populist president did not want to forego his major talking point in this election -- bashing "millionaires and billionaires" -- in the interest of fiscal solvency. Which is why he "surprised" the Speaker with a last-minute request for $400 billion more in taxes after the Speaker had miraculously gotten his Tea Party caucus to agree to $800 billion in new taxes. Obama seemed completely oblivious to how this would play out. With Grover Norquist hovering the background, no Republican can afford to support tax increases, yet, in the interest of compromise, Boehner had agreed to $800 billion. Now, at the final hour, the president was asking for more. Pure amateur hour.
Mr. Obama is the most powerful person on earth by virtue of the revered office he holds. If he cannot strike a bargain to maintain our one trump card on the world stage, our almighty currency, he is not deserving of such an exalted status. Never has a U.S. President looked so weak, pathetic, and impotent, as the day Obama said a deal could not be done on the debt and deficit. It was shameful. Moreover, at a time when we should be a shining example of prudence and propriety to the fiscal slackers of Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain, the resulting credit downgrade made us look guilty by comparison.
However, if you thought that stunt was outrageously embarrassing, expect more of the same in a second Obama term, as the president lets this nation sail right over the fiscal cliff. By most expert accounts, the damage to our credit rating -- let alone jobs, GDP, and the stock market - from that catastrophic event will likely send this country into another Recession. Moreover, the damage to our financial reputation will be irreparable. All because our community-organizer-in-chief wants to place even more taxes on the very job creators we need to get this economy growing again.
Fourth, Barack Obama's is still not ready for the nation's top job. Barack Obama would have made an excellent Junior Senator from Illinois had he stayed in Congress back in 2008 and pushed for the legislation he holds dear. Mr. Obama was too young, too inexperienced (with only two years in the Senate before he impetuously ran for the nation's top job), and with far too little understanding of how American business actually works -- let alone how high-level federal policy sausage is made -- to be handed the keys to the most powerful nation the world has ever seen at the peak of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Late in this presidential campaign, Obama says he now wants to create a "Secretary of Business." That is a desperate and laughable act. The highly successful CEO, Mitt Romney, would be that Secretary of Business as president from day one.
Many Americans overlooked the red flags associated with Mr. Obama back in 2008 in the interest of making a symbolic statement about racial progress in this racially divided nation. Unfortunately, racial divisions have only gotten worse under Obama, as poor black Americans realized that a magic wand was not suddenly waived over their troubles come inauguration day, and as share-the-wealth race-baiting under the guise of "making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share" only got more dangerously strident. Such overt class warfare rhetoric lays the groundwork for violence when things don't go exactly the way that the rabid followers of a demagogue want them. We must be extra careful in this country to not stir the flames of race, class, and ethnic division, lest we irreparably tear asunder the fabric that holds together this fragile republic.
Yet, Obama has done just that. The only evidence of that you need to see is the dwindling number of liberal whites in Mr. Obama's diverse "coalition." Are those liberal whites who campaigned for Obama last election suddenly racist because, four years later, they are now campaigning against him? That is what Obama's supporters would like you to believe. Could it be, however, that increasing liberal white resistance to Obama is not about being racist, but, rather, its exact opposite? That is, Mr. Obama has not been the "post-racial" president he sold himself as back in 2008.
Here's the painful lesson of Mr. Obama's four years in office. We have had to learn the hard way that symbolism, good intentions, and lofty rhetoric do not grow incomes, do not lessen poverty, do not provide people with meaningful long-term employment in their chosen fields, do not help small businesses hire and prosper, and do not protect our borders against sex and drug traffickers, illegal immigrants, and terrorists. Such inspiring tropes do not keep our consulates safe, our budget balanced, and our dollar the dominant currency on earth.
As I told you back in 2008 when I warned you about Mr. Obama's dangerous demagoguery, I tell you again in 2012: Barack Oibama is still not ready for the most powerful office in the world. His small ball focus on ideological sideshows shows a lack of gravitas. His inappropriate appearances on lowbrow, lowest common denominator programs like "Leno" and "The View" at a time of national suffering is simply not in keeping with the dignity of the nation's highest office. By contrast, Mr. Romney has talked about big ideas and big changes, and has consciously refused calls to appear on lowest common denominator programs. It's evidence of how personally and seriously he takes the challenges we face.
Mr. Romney is not hip. In fact, he's a bit square. His rhetoric will not make you swoon, nor will it make you shout, "I Love You, Mitt Romney!" God knows, he's not nearly as socially and environmentally progressive as I would like him to be. Moreover, the proselytizing that comes with his Mormon faith makes a secular humanist Zen Buddhist -- minus the reincarnation baloney -- like me cringe.
However, Mitt Romney knows business. And he means business. He's a turnaround specialist, who rescued the Utah Olympics, balanced the budget in liberal Massachusetts without raising taxes, and transformed brands like Staples, the Weather Channel, Sealy, Burger King, and Domino's into economic success stories. Just as Barack Obama was the right man to end our disastrous detour into Iraq and the disgraceful Don't Ask, Don't Tell, so Mitt Romney is the right match for the sluggish recovery in which we are now mired.
As fine and decent a father as Mr. Obama appears to be, as beloved as his conciliatory rhetoric is in the capitals of Europe, his true home is Congress. Just as John Kerry did after his loss in the presidential campaign of 2004, I hope Barack Obama returns to the U.S. Senate and carries on his important work there related to gay rights, health care, and protecting the environment, and leaves the arduous work of growing incomes, balancing the budget, protecting our borders, and downsizing the entitlement state to the grown-ups who've spent years working across the aisle to achieve these important ends.
If Mr. Obama truly was a replica of Bill Clinton -- whose many years as governor of a conservative southern state gave him the wherewithal to achieve bipartisan consensus on thorny issues like welfare reform and deficit reduction -- the choice would be easy: I would strongly urge a vote for Barack Obama.
However, Barack Obama has proved to be a far cry from the centrist -- if personally flawed -- statesmanship of Mr. Clinton. And every time Bill Clinton stands up and endorses Mr. Obama, we are painfully reminded of how much the two men differ in practice.
By contrast, Governor Mitt Romney is, at heart, a moderate Republican who worked across the aisle in heavily Democratic Massachusetts to achieve bipartisan consensus. Mitt Romney knows the staggering realities we face. These realities can no longer be sugarcoated.
We continue to decline in education performance, no matter how much money Mr. Obama throws at the problem. We bleed high-paying, high-skilled jobs to nations with the trained workforce to perform them. Our high corporate tax rate forces companies to send jobs abroad in order to stay afloat. In addition, our currency and credit rating are both at risk from out-of-control entitlements, welfare, taxes, loose monetary policy, and dysfunctional political brinkmanship.
By growing this economy in earnest through across-the-board tax cuts, job training, energy infrastructure, smart regulation, a strong dollar, and by ending the job-destroying demonizing of job creators, big and small, Mr. Romney will reverse that decline from day one.
Moreover, as our income and job prospects dramatically improve, Mr. Romney will make us proud to be Americans again. Moreover, he will unequivocally say to the world, when you push against us, we will push back, whether it is on our borders, in trade, on intellectual property, or in your treatment of our ambassadors abroad.
My fellow Americans, we don't have to live as second-class citizens. We don't need to accept this growing narrative of our inevitable decline. We can be the proud, confident and un-apologetic "hope of the world" without being filled with hubris. The self-effacing, extraordinarily generous, but highly competent, Mitt Romney will take us there.
Mr. Obama will be the artful, inspirational custodian of our present decline. You are not racist, sexist, or homophobic, if you feel the same.