Say what you will about Mitt Romney, vote for or against him, but he's actually said something that makes me sit up and take notice.
A few days ago, this 30-second spot appeared on Mitt's web site. I found it primarily because Drudge linked it for a few days, and one or more news wires gleefully picked up on Romney's "Republicans need to clean their own house" theme. It didn't last long, and few (if any) bloggers picked up on the meme. In the meantime, it appears that Romney is taking this one on the road..
If Romney accomplishes nothing else in this campaign, up to and including garnering a nomination or even a VP shot on a ticket, I hope he drives and hammers this message across the country.
I say this as one who is firmly in the "undecided" camp for this election. Romney has the right messages, but I'm still not sure whether he has the chops to go the distance in '08. If he doesn't, but does well going into the primaries, then I suspect he could be a much more viable candidate in 2012 when the other big-name contenders will have serious age issues to contend with.
Still, I'd like to focus on this idea of Republicans being scolded about not acting like Republicans these days. Although his message is short, he chides Republicans for "acting like Democrats" in critical areas, and he certainly doesn't mean this in a good way. He criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the Katrina response and clean-up, for example. "It didn't look like Republicans were in charge," is how he put it. He's starting to trumpet a theme of cutting back on spending in Washington. At one point he commented, "We have been overspending even when we had the lead in Congress and in the Senate." In several sessions of over-spending Congresses, this is saying something.
This criticism of Republican spending habits is a particular comfort to me. I have not given money to the Republicans for many, many election cycles now. I even snap at the RNC professional beggars who call right around primary time to remind me that "we can't win without your money." One year I actually wrote a letter to the party chairman. My message has always been, "I will send you morons money when you do a better job with the money you already have."
I used to think (back in my innocent days) that Republicans spent more money on campaigns to get elected so they could do things like cut taxes and reduce spending. This is obviously not true, and Republicans are just as guilty of pork spending as their colleagues across the aisle. This is one case where Republicans ought NOT to be like Republicans of old, they just need to reinvent themselves.
Where do we even begin with the ethical/moral compass under which politicians today operate? Where, in their heavily compartmented minds, do they assume that their dirty laundry is going to remain a secret? And how do they possibly believe that, just because they happen to be a Republican, we voting Republicans are not going to rake them over the coals for it? Here's a tip, guys: if it was morally reprehensible for Bill Clinton to cigar his intern, it's just as morally reprehensible for you to play footie with some dude in an airport bathroom. Period. There can be no double standard here. If you can't keep your vices to yourself, don't expect us to forgive you (politically, anyway) just because you stand in front of a camera and get teary-eyed about it. If you get caught with your hand in the till, expect us to call for a) your resignation, and b) jail time. Loudly. Whatever good you may have done for the country can be instantly wiped away when you fail to act with integrity. It's just that simple.
So, Mr. Romney, keep hammering on that message. I really don't think this country can be told enough that they need to hold their representatives accountable for acting stupidly. It's what we do. It's how we maintain a republican form of government.
Even Democrats have to agree with that.