Obama ran on a platform of unmitigated optimism -- a promise to usher in a brighter day for America. But there could hardly be a greater contrast between his pledge and his performance in office, between his commitment to the nation and his current abandonment of all hope. He has breached his contract with the electorate and must be fired.
It isn't just that Obama's policies have failed; it's that he has essentially given up and is asking us to accept a lesser America going forward, as if resigned to the fatalistic belief that America has begun an inevitable and unavoidable decline.
His policies are smothering the economy. He isn't merely denying the allergy-induced asthma patient her breathing treatment; he is holding his hand over her mouth and suffocating her. But he is also using his bully pulpit to proliferate despair, because to claim he's working against ineluctably destructive forces is the only remaining excuse he can offer after 3 1/2 years of blaming Bush.
He is basically saying, "Look, I know we aren't so prosperous as we once were, but that's just the way it's going to be from now on, so you might as well re-elect me, because at least I'm realistic about it and I will make the pain more tolerable by redistributing it throughout the body politic in a more equitable manner."
He wants the voters to believe that 8 percent unemployment is the new 5 percent. He actually boasts that he is the most frugal president in the past 60 years, using the tortured logic that because he "inherited" a $1 trillion deficit, he should be praised as long as his deficits don't get too much above $1 trillion -- as if $1 trillion deficits are the new balanced budget.
A president who believed that America's greatness is recoverable and expandable -- a chief executive determined to lead us back to national restoration -- would reject the crippling notions of national impotency that Obama has embraced. He would seek to inspire a sense of mission in the people to restore American prosperity.
But for Obama to do that would be tantamount to conceding his failures. For him to embark on a true message of hope and change, he would have to campaign against his own deplorable record and chart a new course. Instead, he's taken the easy way out: resignation and despair, coupled with a relentless propaganda effort to convince voters, in essence, that our best times are behind us.
Though there are many differences between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, they are strikingly similar in their poor economic records and even more so in their shared pessimism and bearishness on America.
That is why it is so important for Mitt Romney, in addition to focusing a bright light on Obama's failed record and connecting the dots between his policies and that record, to challenge and obliterate Obama's message of hopelessness and stagnation. He must, in his own way, grow increasingly Reaganesque in the sense of violently rejecting Obama's death verdict on America and vigorously proclaiming that despite this astonishing mess Obama has created, it is not too late to turn things around and that America's best days can be still ahead of us.
Romney must make clear to the American people that Obama is like the hospice provider who has come in to make America's last days more comfortable, dispensing pain medication limitlessly (in the form of ceaseless spending and expanding the welfare state) because there is no downside to addicting a terminal patient. Romney should say that this national grim reaper has delivered the wrong diagnosis and that he must be asked to vacate the premises.
America is not dying of old age or an irreversible disease; she has just been administered a debilitating cocktail of drugs, and we must wean her off them and allow her to heal and regain her natural strength and vitality.
The good news is that in contrast with Obama's empty promises of "hope and change," Romney can make a persuasive case that America can rebound and soar to new heights -- because it happens to be true. By his implementing pro-growth tax and spending policies, structurally reforming entitlements, rolling back the regulatory state and using the bully pulpit to re-befriend America, its entrepreneurship, its businesses, its domestic energy producers, its greatness and its people, we would see an unprecedented restoration of America's pride and an economic explosion.
We don't have to accept 8 percent unemployment as the new 5 percent. We don't have to accept $1 trillion deficits as the new norm. We don't have to accept the suicidal notion that we can't reform our entitlement programs and bring our budget into solvency. Romney has begun to sound those themes, and I hope he doubles down on them in the last three months of the campaign.