William Hamilton: Happy days are here again, not
June 5, 2012
A successful presidential campaign needs a theme – often expressed by a slogan or a song – that suggests why the candidate is deserving of one’s vote.
To mention just a few, in 1932 there was FDR’s promise of a “New Deal,” which was accompanied by the song: “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
Then, there was Eisenhower’s “I like Ike,” and John F. Kennedy’s “New Frontier.”
But some themes work better than others. In the 1936 presidential election, when North Dakota Congressman William Lemke ran as a third-party candidate against FDR, he tried to style himself as William “Liberty Bell” Lemke. One of FDR’s surrogates said of Lemke, “Yes, and he’s cracked, too.”
As for Mitt Romney, his forte at Bain Capital was to gather private capital to turn failing businesses into successes and/or finding private capital to boost businesses in which he saw growth potential. The success of Staples, Burger King, Brookstone, Domino’s Pizza, Sealy Corporation, Steel Dynamics, Bright Horizons, Dunkin‚ Donuts, Guitar Center, Burlington Coat Factory, Clear Channel Communications, Warner Music Group, and The Weather Channel would suggest that Romney knows something about turning failure into success. Of course, not all of Bain Capital’s investments paid off. But Bain Capital’s overall success rate exceeded 70 percent.
For his campaign theme, President Obama has chosen the word: “Forward,” prompting one of the late-night comedians to say President Obama dare not look back over almost four years in office. As for President Obama’s attacks on Mr. Romney for Romney’s work at Bain Capital, no less than former President Bill Clinton said last week that Mitt Romney “had a sterling business career.”
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President Obama’s other theme is: “I killed bin Laden.” A tertiary theme seems to be: By use of armed drones against high-value terrorists, I am not increasing the prison population at Club Gitmo.
As for his foreign experience, Mr. Romney spent two years as a missionary in France. That puts Mr. Romney in position to use his fluent French to tell French President François Hollande to take his Socialism and … well, you know.
But here is something odd: Hillary Clinton was born and raised in Chicago and never lived in New York State. President Obama has written that he was born in Hawaii and, following that, grew up in both Indonesia and Hawaii, that he was a street person in New York City for awhile, and that he earned a degree from New York City’s Columbia University.
If you had to guess, which one served in the U.S. Senate from Illinois and which one served in the U.S. Senate from New York?
Here is something else that is odd: President Obama’s most formative years were spent in Indonesia where Muslim law said that marriage was supposed to be between one man and up to three women. When he ran for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, President Obama said marriage was supposed to be between one man and one woman – a net reduction of two women. Now, President Obama says marriage can be between two men or two women.
As one can see, President Obama’s ideas on this subject are constantly “evolving.”
In 1992, Bill Clinton ran successfully on the theme: “It’s the economy stupid!” But, given the current state of the U.S. economy, not even semi-happy days are here again. So, President Obama needs to find a theme that will scare his welfare base into action: How about: “Mitt will make you go to work!”
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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