Thomas Sowell
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Mitt Romney now joins the long list of the kinds of presidential candidates favored by the Republican establishment-- nice, moderate losers, people with no coherently articulated vision, despite how many ad hoc talking points they may have.

The list of Republican presidential candidates like this goes back at least as far as 1948, when Thomas E. Dewey ran against President Harry Truman. Dewey spoke in lofty generalities while Truman spoke in hard-hitting specifics. Since then, there have been many re-runs of this same scenario, featuring losing Republican presidential candidates John McCain, Bob Dole, Gerald Ford and, when he ran for reelection, George H.W. Bush.

Bush 41 first succeeded when he ran for election as if he were another Ronald Reagan ("Read my lips, no new taxes"), but then lost when he ran for reelection as himself-- "kinder and gentler," disdainful of "the vision thing" and looking at his watch during a debate, when he should have been counter-attacking against the foolish things being said.

This year, Barack Obama had the hard-hitting specifics-- such as ending "tax cuts for the rich" who should pay "their fair share," government "investing" in "the industries of the future" and the like. He had a coherent vision, however warped.

Most of Obama's arguments were rotten, if you bothered to put them under scrutiny. But someone once said that it is amazing how long the rotten can hold together, if you don't handle it roughly.

Any number of conservative commentators, both in the print media and on talk radio, examined and exposed the fraudulence of Obama's "tax cuts for the rich" argument. But did you ever hear Mitt Romney bother to explain the specifics which exposed the flaws in Obama's argument?

On election night, the rotten held together because Mitt Romney had not handled it roughly with specifics. Romney was too nice to handle Obama's absurdities roughly. He definitely out-niced Obama-- as John McCain had out-niced Obama in 2008, and as Dewey out-niced Truman back in 1948. And these Republicans all lost.

In this year's first presidential debate, Obama out-niced Romney. But, when he lost out doing that, he then reversed himself, became the attacker, and ultimately the winner on election night, despite a track record that should have buried him in a landslide.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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