06/20/2012 04:50 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

The 'Fair Shot' vs. the 'To Do List' -- A Big Revealing Blah in the Presidential Race

In the clash of presidential agendas, it's the challenger's "Fair Shot" vs. the incumbent's "To Do List."

Be still, my heart.

Congress, President Barack Obama has repeatedly intoned, must pass his To Do List of generally popular items for economic revival. Which of course they will not, making it a perfect campaigning situation for him.

If only he didn't call it a "To Do List," something with all the pizzazz and compelling descriptive power of the title of a hastily scribbled grocery list.

Obama also has an energy plan, which he cleverly calls the All of the Above Plan. As in renewables and energy efficiency, oh, and oil and gas and coal and nuclear, too.

Now, let's see. Would that be "D" or "E" on the multiple choice quiz?

To be fair, Obama has an overall theme, which I believe is currently "Forward." Since who is not for moving forward, but for those inextricably, and inexplicably, drawn to going backward?

Before that, it was something even more forgettable, which I recall being suspiciously like Newt Gingrich's slogan. Which I now recall was "Winning the Future," also the title of Gingrich's 2005 book, laying out his political platform.


Recollecting the ex-House speaker-turned-lobbyist, er, enormously paid historian, whose Newtonian motion probably became destined for its current resting state right around the time he portentously declared, "I am the nominee" last December, brings us back to the pallid corporate takeover artist whose unregulated super PAC money and complacent media allies ended the far more flavorful Georgian's hopes.

Romney, at least, for all his verbal bumblings, has come up with a catch-all phrase for his program more descriptive from the fill-in-the-blank later phrase so unfortunately attached to Obama's.

Harry Truman had the Fair Deal. Romney offers the Fair Shot. I guess Romney only wants to make deals with his equals.

Republican President Teddy Roosevelt had the Square Deal. Later, when he ran as a Progressive, he had the New Nationalism, which turned out to be a lot like his Cousin Franklin's New Deal, replete even with a national health service. (That two of the four Republican presidents whose visages adorn Mount Rushmore, TR and Abraham Lincoln, would likely be drummed out of today's Republican Party, which I hesitate to call "modern-day," is amusing. In its mordant sort of way.)

Obama has an expansive agenda, a very wide bandwidth presidency, but he doesn't tell us about it in any comprehensive way. I constantly note his schedule and doings on my New West Notes blog, and it's all very interesting and fascinating to contemplate. I can only imagine how exhausting it is for Obama and those around him to be engaged in it. Perhaps that is why they don't explain it.

As for Romney, he proposes to revive the economy by starving it, except for those already at the top. He's also backing the anti-Enlightenment predilections of his party, as I discussed a few days ago here on the Huffington Post, and pushing for another war in the Islamic world, with Iran, as Obama pushes his big geopolitical pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. (He says Obama is afraid of a war with Iran. Because what could go wrong there?)

Naturally, what Romney is offering is not a Fair Deal, a New Deal, or even a TR-like Square Deal. It's not a deal at all, for there is a social compact inherent in such. It's a shot. Or a shake. Like one roll of the dice, or a turn at the roulette table of the Big Casino Economy.

This, after all, is the guy who celebrated his clinching win in the Republican primaries with a big fundraiser at the Las Vegas Strip casino of the most famous birther in the country, Donald Trump, who that very day gave interviews pushing his vicious nonsense.

Needless to say, there's a lot of political hay to be made with what Romney is offering up. But it's going to take a little more creativity than adding an item on a to-do list.

You can check things during the day on my site, New West Notes ...

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