Yesterday's New York Times carried a piece by Michael Shear and Ashley Parker stating that the Romney campaign was going to stop running a campaign focused solely on the economy: "Instead, Romney intends to hit the White House with a series of arguments--on energy, health care, taxes, spending and a more direct attack on Obama's foreign policy record--in an effort to draw sharper distinctions between the candidates and to give voters a choice about who can best change Washington."
Notably absent from this list is any mention of abortion, gay marriage, gun rights, affirmative action, or immigration, issues of vital importance for tens of millions of voters. Indeed, many voters support the Republican Party in presidential elections on the basis of those issues, in spite of skepticism about the hosannas to the free market that largely characterize Republican campaigns. The Obama Administration has been radical on all these issues. It has imposed, by administrative fiat, an amnesty for illegal immigrants; sought to entrench and expand affirmative action; endorsed gay marriage and refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, paving the way for a nationwide recognition of gay marriage, which would override the laws of the vast majority of the states; argued in court that there is no ministerial exemption to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an argument consistent with the view that churches that refuse to ordain women should be liable for employment discrimination; and enacted a regulation ordering religious employers to provide insurance for contraceptives, including contraceptives that can act as abortifacients, and employed arguments in support of that regulation that would apply equally to an order requiring employers to pay for surgical abortions. If the Romney campaign really wished to draw distinctions between the candidates, these issues would be a great place to start.
If Romney cannot even talk about these issues, why would anyone expect him to do anything about them? Indeed, Romney is already beginning to retreat on immigration, even though his relative hard line on illegal immigration helped him win the Republican nomination. The sheer awfulness of the Obama Administration makes a strong case for Romney, and it is likely that Romney would at least reverse course on some of Obama's most radical actions, such as the HHS contraceptive mandate. But the Romney campaign's palpable timidity does not bode well either for victory or the conduct of a Romney Administration.
Thomas Piatak is a contributing editor to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He writes from Cleveland, Ohio.