The second thing is the clock. Here is a great virtue of the tea party: They know what time it is. It's getting late. If we don't get the size and cost of government in line now, we won't be able to. We're teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn't "big spending" anymore. It's ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.Which brings me to the Republican nominee. There is no mistaking him for the tea party candidate, even if many in the tea party support him out of antipathy for Obama. But to date, he has done a poor job of defining who he is, and the Obama campaign has had some modest success defining him in a negative way. I have chaffed at his campaign for not immediately making the case for his candidacy and for not building the narrative of his life as soon as he clinched the nomination.
The good news is that the mountain of negativity has not made much of a dent. People are more sophisticated than to believe Harry Reid's McCarthyesque lies and Romney has been good at counterattacking. The selection of Paul Ryan was helpful as well. But Romney still hasn't made the case. In an environment where his opponent is trying to scare the public, he needs to do so. The hour is late.
Perhaps he has been waiting for the convention, but I am nervous. In 2008, Romney's ultimate failing was the failure to put together a credible narrative and companion policy prescriptions to set himself apart from the other candidates. I worry that he will try to do so now, as well; perhaps thinking that the public is fed up with the economy enough to dump Obama. I am here to say that they won't vote for someone who won't explain himself. They tried that it in 2008 and it didn't go well. Unfairly perhaps, the Republican candidate this year won't get away with some version of hope and change.
I will be looking anxiously to how Romney handles the convention to see where this is going. Right now, its not looking that great. Intrade has Obama at 55.6% to win. That he isn't higher is an indication of the President's weakness. That he is that high in the first place is an indication that Romney isn't making the case.