and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
January #1

The right man in a crisis
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Now that it is 2008, I am ready to deal with the presidential election. And I am going to deal with it very seriously, because we may not have the luxury of making a mistake.

The world is smaller than ever before, and therefore dangerous even for us. Things are changing so fast - cultural things, economic things, political things - that we can hardly keep up. The old solutions sound inadequate, and we haven't yet found the language of new solutions.

Our presidential campaigns are being run traditionally, so it's no use counting on paid ads. We must reach beyond our society's newly enhanced superficiality to find the soul of the person our country needs at this moment in its history.

We have filled political gaps since George Washington. In my lifetime: Truman, when we needed a safe place for the buck to stop. Eisenhower, a grown-up to lead us confidently from hot to cold war. Kennedy, to inspire the young. Nixon, to get us out of Johnson's mistake, end the draft. Carter, an honest man to help us get over Nixon's lies. Reagan, to replace Carter's breathtaking incompetence and end the cold war. Bush I, who continued to get us respect abroad, even though he didn't have "the vision thing." Clinton, who did have the vision thing but not the international thing, and who set a bad example for the young with his lack of self-control. Bush II, who personifies family values but didn't have the competence thing on immigration or Iraq war follow-through.

Now we owe ourselves a grown-up who will never embarrass us with unseemly behavior; an intelligent man who can pronounce "nuclear"; most of all a competent man who can deal with almost-certain major crises.

Quick dismissals. Obama, not ready to have the buck on his desk, for the same reasons our governor is barely dealing with loose change. Hillary, whose soul is hard to find; maybe her husband ate it. Edwards, yuk.

McCain, a grown-up, but wrong on illegal immigration and, I'm sorry, too old for this extraordinarily demanding job. Huckabee: Carter & Clinton charm, Bush II religious destiny thing, supporters need a reality check. Guiliani, good on competence, charm, no better than I would be on personal family values, but I know better than to run for office. Paul: inspires the young, but wrong century for isolationism.

Mitt Romney. Grown-up temperament, self-control personified. Decent guy, nice family. Doesn't talk about his religion unless he absolutely has to respond to attacks. Intelligent. But most of all - most of all - competent. Business. The Winter Olympics. As much as one can be, governing Massachusetts. But what convinced me is the story I heard a year ago, which you are now hearing in his campaign ads. A problem - his Bain partner's teenage daughter was missing in New York. Immediate solution: Close business, take employees to New York to find her. Fliers created and distributed, one to a person who knew where the girl was. Mission accomplished.

If I had a crisis, Mitt Romney is the guy I'd want to deal with it.

In fact, we did have a state crisis: Jane Swift, unable to win the governorship on her own. Some of us begged: Mitt Romney responded and held the commonwealth together for us taxpayers for four years. Full disclosure here: When he left office, he and Ann gave Citizens for Limited Taxation $10,000 with a note of gratitude for our support on fiscal issues. So I am doubly grateful; but not enough to sell out my grandchildren, who need a future. I want strong, sensible foreign policy; tough policy on illegal immigration, with support for the legal immigration that our economy needs. I want tax limitation and a balanced budget.

Romney seems to be for these. I like the personal responsibility in his health insurance law. I don't agree with him on all issues, though my positions on gay issues and abortion have evolved somewhat too. OK, the NRA and hunting thing was a bit much. But most attacks on Mitt are silly. I use the verb "saw" all the time: e.g., I "saw" Woodstock, even though I was living in Greece at the time. And I think I would have put the dog on top of the car, too, rather than leave him behind for the family vacation, which he would have hated.

I hardly know Mitt Romney personally. But all of us in Massachusetts know him better than the New Hampshire editorial writer who declared him "a phony." Guess to some people, a good man is hard to believe. Mitt's enemies are the best reason to vote for him.

I see someone with strong principles on major issues who, until he had to, wasn't that interested in the social issues so important to the Republican right - much like Ronald Reagan, who was totally focused on saving the world from communism. The nation needs leaders like Reagan and Romney to do what has to be done, to save the world for my grandchildren. This means that right now, I need Mitt Romney to win the Republican primary. Seriously.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.