So why isn't Romney's political store crawling with customers right now? How come there are so many budget-busting clearance specials down at Obama's entrance when so many should know better?
Why isn't Romney closing the sale? Can he? Will he?
Way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine, President Obama has 'em smiling back, if early polls are to be believed. This isn't necessarily the case, but with debates still a ways off, all we can go on is perception. The perception goes that Obama has it in the bag inasmuch as Romney's sales pitch has failed him.
I interpose an objection. There hasn't yet been a sales pitch. That's the whole of the problem, or at least a vast chunk of it. The tentativeness of the early Romney campaign has allowed the president and his supporters to fill the night air with their own pitches. Right this way, folks. We've got medical care to give away, we've got food stamps, we've got protection from union-busting rascals, we've got abortion and gay marriage. The good life, in short -- that's what we sell at Obama Inc. Those other guys -- pain, suffering, tax cuts for the 1 percent, chains and slavery for everybody else. That's what they're selling down the street.
"Something for nothing" is one of those clarion pitches most of us find hard to resist. Nobody does something for nothing better than Democrats. No Democrat, perhaps, does it better than Barack Obama -- chiefly by distorting the position of competitors who insist that nothing worthwhile, nothing lasting, comes without toil and sacrifice and at least a modicum of inspiration. You don't just grab a handful, in other words, and scatter it in all directions.
The irresponsibility of the Obama administration, summarized in the Obama campaign's 2012 message of "here you go, take some more," opens the way to a counter-vision. It is the vision that the Romney sales team will overlook at its peril.
The best salesmen know that, in the long haul, you don't win by kidding the customers. You tell them the truth. In the immediate case, why a government that spends, then borrows, every dime in sight needs replacing.
Such is the narrative that Willard Mitt Romney needs to sell with all sincerity and sex appeal, not least because it's the gospel truth.