Romney's trifecta

By George Will

WASHINGTON – The presidential campaign, hitherto a plod through a torrent of words tedious beyond words, began to dance in Denver. There a masterfully prepared Mitt Romney completed a trifecta of tasks and unveiled an issue that, because it illustrates contemporary liberalism’s repellant essence, can constitute his campaign’s closing argument.
Barack Obama, knight of the peevish countenance, illustrated William F. Buckley’s axiom that liberals who celebrate tolerance of other views always seem amazed that there are other views.
His vanity – remember, he gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod whose menu included two of his speeches – perhaps blinds him to the need to prepare.
Luck is not always the residue of design, and Romney was lucky that the first debate concerned the economy, a subject that to him is a hanging curve ball and to Obama is a dancing knuckleball. The topic helped Romney accomplish three things.
First, recent polls showing him losing were on the verge of becoming self-fulfilling prophesies by discouraging his supporters and inspiriting Obama’s. Romney, unleashing his inner wonk about economic matters, probably stabilized public opinion.
Second, Romney needed to be seen tutoring Obama on such elementary distinctions as that between reducing tax rates (while simultaneously reducing, by means testing, the value of deductions) and reducing revenues, revenues being a function of economic growth, which the rate reductions could stimulate. Third, Romney needed to rivet the attention of the electorate, in which self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals 2 to 1, on this choice:
America can be the society it was when it had a spring in its step, a society in which markets – the voluntary collaboration of creative individuals – allocate opportunity.
Or America can remain today’s depressed and anxious society. Late in the debate, when Romney for a third time referred to Obamacare’s creation of “an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of (medical) treatment you ought to have,” Obama said, “No, it isn’t.” Oh?
The Independent Payment Advisory Board perfectly illustrates liberalism’s itch to remove choices from individuals.
By Obamacare’s terms, Congress can repeal IPAB only during a seven-month window in 2017, and then only by three-fifths majorities in both chambers.
Because IPAB effectively makes law, thereby traducing the separation of powers, and entrenches IPAB in a manner that derogates the powers of future Congresses, it has been well described by a Cato Institute study as “the most anti-constitutional measure ever to pass Congress.”
Before Denver, Obama’s campaign was a protracted exercise in excuse abuse, and the promise that he will stay on the statist course he doggedly defends despite evidence of its futility. After Denver, Romney’s campaign should advertise that promise.
George Will’s email address is georgewill@washpost.com.