I was rather gobsmacked by this Kristol utterance yesterday:
"If this election is just about the last four years, that’s a muddy verdict. Bush was president during the financial meltdown. The Obama team has turned that around pretty well. Bill Clinton’s speech at the convention was very important in that way,” he said. Romney “has go to make it a choice about the next four years and explain what Obama would do that would be bad for the country and what he would do to be good.”
Holy Moly. Haven't Republicans from Romney on down, and almost all conservative pundits, been saying since forever that all they have to do is make this election a referendum on Obama, a referendum on the last four years, and it's in the bag? Yes! And now, here we are six weeks out, and suddenly that's a dead-bang loser?
And on top of that: Obama has handled the turn around "pretty well"? Pretty well?!!? I mean, that's what I think, on balance (although even I would put a couple asterisks in there). But that isn't supposed to be what Bill Kristol thinks. I've seen no reports of Roger Ailes being rushed to the hospital yesterday, but I would imagine he clutched at his chest when he heard that one.
What Kristol's statement reflects, of course, is the new reality, which at least he seems now to accept, that Romney's advantage on the economy has been erased. Romney didn't win the economic fight by emphasizing attacks on Obama over the last four years. So if that didn't win, change course and make it about the future.
That's logical as far as it goes, actually, but what Kristol can't see is that making it a referendum on the future will only damage Romney even more, because then the argument becomes about the Ryan budget and the radical GOP positions on a host of issues, positions the American people do not support.
My second-favorite quote from the weekend was Lindsay Graham's "quite frankly, I like our position." Now that is a good one. You can picture the poor guy walking off the set and thinking to himself, a la Bulworth, what the hell have I been reduced to saying?