Political Animal


October 23, 2012 12:51 PM Centralized Planning

By Ed Kilgore

I understand fully why the Obama campaign is releasing a 20-page booklet advertised as a “plan for jobs and middle-class security,” to be heavily distributed and then flourished at campaign rallies. After all, the MSM believes Obama has no second-term agenda (though it’s unclear they’d recognize one unless it is their own consensus preference, the Bowles-Simpson Report), and the Romney campaign has made that part of its own presentation of Moderate Mitt From Massachusetts, The Man With The Five-Point Plan.

But it sure brings back some not-so-great memories. In 2004, as it happens, I was dragged into a frantic effort just prior to the Democratic Convention to help write up a policy “plan” for the Kerry-Edwards ticket, which began life as a 45-page “booklet” and then ballooned into a book (the final version, Our Plan For America, which has a lot of photos, was eventually 304 pages, and you can still buy a copy for a round penny at Amazon!).

I don’t recall the book having any big impact on the campaign. Its girth was mainly attributable, I gathered, to some focus group finding that swing voters really liked to hear that the candidates had “plans,” so we attached the word to practically everything either man had said since middle school. My fear at the time was that all these “plans” added up to a whole lot of guv’mint, in perception if not in reality. So I wrote at least one “plan” to deal with the consequences of too many “plans,” or so I recall (could never bring myself to look much at the final product).

In any event, Obama isn’t so vulnerable to that kind of perception, since it’s Romney who seems obsessed with convincing everybody you need a plan, and he’s got one, and it’s got five points and a heap o’ sub-points! Since it’s about an inch deep at every point (though if you bother to look at the Ryan Budget, which Romney promised to sign if passed by Congress, there’s plenty of alarming detail), we are in no danger of a new administration burdened by a clear and specific mandate. But I am amused that the idea of a plan of action has become the sine qua non of the stretch phase of the 2012 campaign.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • T-Rex on October 23, 2012 1:26 PM:

    Like Gary Hart's idea of new ideas? Don't recall that he got very far with it.

  • mb on October 23, 2012 1:30 PM:

    Last night Romney referred to his plan as "five simple steps." First one: energy independence. Simple, no?

  • PeakVT on October 23, 2012 1:39 PM:

    There was no Bowles-Simpson [Commission] Report. The commission never held a vote because they was not enough consensus to meet the passage requirements. Bowles and Simpson then released their "chairmen's mark" which is what everybody has been erroneously referring to as the BS Report.

  • schtick on October 23, 2012 1:43 PM:

    Everytime Willard mentions his five point plan I'm reminded of Cain....NINE NINE NINE.

  • c u n d gulag on October 23, 2012 1:50 PM:

    Mitt and Paul can't tell you the details of their plans, or they won't get elected.

  • jjm on October 23, 2012 1:52 PM:

    There's no comparison with the rush job of Kerry. Obama's been dead serious about our economic future since the beginning.

    Romney was so stupid last night, that if Americans elect him anyway, we are heading for the ugliest time ever. His economic ideals are precisely what everyone HATES about our 'new economy': lowest wages possible, shipping jobs overseas, ensuring that all money goes to the fewest number, and going after good, solid well run businesses and either convincing them to cheapen their products to earn rip off profits, or saddling them with so much debt that they cannot continue.

    A Sensata worker of 33 years, who is losing his job to China (Romney has $8 million in the company), had to 'train' the Chinese engineers to make the small parts that control functions in automobiles -- sensors, connectors, etc. Sensata was owned by Honeywell, whose reputation for quality was sterling. The Sensata worker says that the Chinese engineers didn't really get the processes, they were on their computers hitting sites censored on the Internet in China.

    So now all automobiles are running the risk of ruin for these now cheap $4 parts, no longer made to the highest standards.

  • SecularAnimist on October 23, 2012 2:41 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "the MSM believes Obama has no second-term agenda"

    Um, no.

    The MSM says that Obama has no second-term agenda, because that's the talking point they have been spoon-fed by the GOP, and the function of the MSM is to regurgitate GOP talking points.

  • joe corso on October 23, 2012 2:57 PM:

    Romney is channelling Peter Seller's Inspector Cluseaux who pompously declared at one point in "Shot in the dark"

    "My plan, my dear Hercule, is to have no plan"