Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Part of Portman's Problems

I like Rob Portman a lot, but he has to be smarter about interviews. Take this quote from a Dan Balz Washington Post piece for example:
But Republicans believe that, as much as Democrats try to make the midterms a choice between Obama's and Bush's philosophies, in the end the election will be a referendum on the president at a time of deep voter discontent.

"I suppose it's relevant to some people," Portman said when asked whether what happened when Republicans were in power should be a leading issue in this campaign. But he said the Obama administration's policies in combating the recession are more pertinent for voters. "The question is, was the stimulus a good idea? Has it worked?" he said. "Is the health-care bill a good idea? Has it worked?"
You simply can't wish away the Republican's failures by pinning them on Obama. It IS relevant, Rob, to a great many people...some of them are even voters!

There is absolutely NO POINT in electing Republicans if they haven't learned the lessons of the past that lead to this mess in the first place. The GOP had lost its way and while I do think SOME Republicans are finding their way again, I do believe that SOME Republicans aren't even looking for the path. Which one is Rob Portman? I don't know...and I really wish Rob would stop playing politician long enough to give us some real answers.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I get it. This is about message discipline. Deflect all criticism towards any other villain. That's what politicians do. And that is my point: That is what politicians do. Realizing that Rob Portman has always been a politician, I'd like to think he could be a real person too...

In the end, Rob Portman IS better for Ohio and the nation than Lee Fisher and on that basis alone, Rob gets my vote, but would it kill us to acknowledge the problems and campaign on the idea that we've learned from our mistakes.

UPDATE: On the other hand, I really do like this approach...(from the same article)
Portman does not seem eager to spend the rest of the campaign talking about the past, arguing that "it's an odd campaign to be running against the past rather than providing a vision for the future. And we're going to be providing a vision for the future, [because] that's where people are."
I do think Portman has an obligation to address any mistakes that were made in Bush trade and budget policy, but dwelling on it isn't the answer either. If I were on Team Portman, I'd develop a statement on what Portman thinks are the problems caused by both Bush AND Obama that includes real solutions. More importantly, I'd want to find a way to do that without a nine-page booklet... This is a step in the right direction:
As for his days in the Bush administration, he notes that until he arrived as budget director, Bush had never vetoed a spending bill. "We should have done it years earlier," he said.

His record as U.S. trade representative, Portman said, was one of promoting exports. "Ohio is dependent on exports," he said. "Twenty-five percent of Ohio's factory jobs are now export jobs. One out of every three acres is planted for exports in Ohio. Farmers are dependent on it."

He also argues that he is a strong advocate for tougher enforcement of existing trade agreements and has been critical of the Obama administration for not responding more to China on currency valuations. "I'm stronger on enforcement than the administration," he said.