Kathryn Lopez

Romney managed something similar with his remarks. "President Obama was awfully vague about some of his plans, but I think I heard him say that government is responsible for educating a child from birth -- from birth --to its first job...And there were hints as well of universal health care and a universal service corps. It all sounds very appealing, until you realize that these plans mean universal government. That model has never worked anywhere in the world."

In other words, vague platitudes about "hope" and "change," coupled with nebulous talk of bipartisanship, can only go so far. In his speech, in which he covered not only the war and the economy, but also judges and education and much else, Romney delivered specifics -- not partisan bickering, not quisling compromise, not frightened rhetoric, but an introduction to the straight-up nitty-gritty. Most importantly the past, and perhaps future, presidential candidate set up a viable means of opposition to the liberal wave: "We must be the alternative course. We can't be that if all we say is no. Our plans must be clear, compelling, and first to the table. Our plans must have at least one common thread -- they must make America stronger. Better education strengthens our kids; better health care strengthens our citizens; and bringing our budget into balance strengthens our economy and preserves our future. Today, as much as ever, conservative principles are absolutely essential to!

keeping America strong and prosperous and free."

One speech isn't going to make anyone president -- nor should it. But if Romney, who has a record of leadership in the financial, political and even sports worlds, can show that he has a point-by-point alternative vision during these coming years, and encourage others to share it, he may have a second go at the White House. And that would really give them something to talk about.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.