OPINION: Pros, cons of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

The endgame nears! So does mental exhaustion -- for everyone.

We lurch from debate to debate, poll to poll, leaked video to calamity overseas. One day we decide we'll settle for Obama. The next, we're leaning toward rolling the dice and taking a chance on Romney.

As we ponder how little we know about how GOP candidate Mitt Romney would govern in the White House, or exactly what President Barack Obama would do if we give him another four years, let's take a look at the pros and cons for each man. We'll try to shed the hype and negativity saturating each campaign.

Pros on Romney: He was an effective governor of Massachusetts. Although he vetoed hundreds of bills (most overridden by a Democratic-controlled legislature), he persuaded key Democrats to help him push through landmark legislation to give many more residents of Massachusetts health insurance.

He salvaged the Salt Lake City Olympics and raised enough money to keep the facilities at Park City, Utah, maintained for the training of hundreds of athletes for years to come.

He is by nature a results-oriented businessman and pragmatist who wants to solve problems. And this country has plenty of problems.

Cons on Romney: He disavowed his health-care plan after it became the model for Obama's plan. He wrongly said in the first debate that his plan would cover pre-existing conditions and children up to age 26, as Obama's plan would do. Romney's would not.

The moderate Romney was hidden so long that we really don't know what he thinks about such issues as abortion rights and gay rights and a myriad other controversial social issues. His oafish comments about not bothering about the 47 percent of Americans who don't have to pay federal taxes remain stunning especially for a man who pays only 13 percent in federal taxes.

Romney has yet to offer a serious, well-thought-out plan for jump-starting the economy. Insisting that we can create jobs by lowering taxes on the wealthy, dropping regulations on business, cutting government programs and raising defense spending is not good enough.

Pros for Obama: Despite the GOP playbook and his failure to get everything he promised done, Obama did have some successes in his first term. He saved the auto industry. He prevented another depression. He oversaw the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. He ended combat missions in Iraq. He got legislation passed, not yet fully in effect, to provide more Americans with health insurance.

Despite the bad economy, the unemployment is back where it was when he took office. Not great, of course, and many have stopped actively looking for work, but the rate is no longer a whopping 10 percent. Foreclosures are also at a five-year low although they are taking longer.

On women's issues, Obama signed legislation giving women more time to file suits alleging pay discrimination. He is a firm supporter of a woman's right to choose whether or not she will have an abortion. He ended the despised don't ask, don't tell policy on gays in the military.

Cons for Obama: He promised a new bipartisan era in Washington, which he could not deliver, partly because Tea Party movement activists have been in no mood to compromise. But Obama often seems aloof from the hard work of political compromise.

He asked for a bipartisan report on solving our economic solutions but when Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson delivered one that many economists said could work, although it wouldn't be popular because it would change Medicare and Social Security formulas and raise taxes, Obama ducked it and never actually proposed a comprehensive plan of his own.

The excitement over Obama is gone. We're sadder and wiser. We know there is no overnight, miracle cure for our economic ills. Life came at us fast.

The race, as was always predicted, will go down to the wire. But there's plenty of time for us to be more thoughtful and fact-motivated than we have been for the past year. Sorry, Big Bird. You're sort of irrelevant.

(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Email amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.)

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

Editorial and Opinion Pieces

Who should be the next U.S. president? Mitt Romney or Barack Obama Who should be the next U.S. president? Mitt Romney or Barack Obama

OPINION | Voters on Tuesday will go to the polls to decide which man -- Mitt Romney or Barack Obama -- will occupy the White House for the next four years. So who should win?

Editorial: Newest economic news may be good enough for President Barack Obama Editorial: Newest economic news may be good enough for President Barack Obama

OPINION | For President Barack Obama's re-election hopes, it has always been a race between the economy and Election Day.

OPINION: Mitt Romney, a decent leader OPINION: Mitt Romney, a decent leader

Compare the political philosophies of President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, and what you see over there in the left corner of the ring is Big, Big Government -- runaway spending as the answer to everything, more intervention, more control, an attitude of Washington knows best.

OPINION: Why Mitt Romney shouldn OPINION: Why Mitt Romney shouldn't be president

I hoped for serious discussions of how to pay for Social Security and Medicare. I wanted real talk about rebuilding America's infrastructure and improving public education. I wanted ideas for restoring the middle class and motivating young people to realize their stake in the country's future.

OPINION - Mitt Romney displayed unusual strategy for winning during foreign policy debate OPINION - Mitt Romney displayed unusual strategy for winning during foreign policy debate

OPINION | Back in his first campaign confrontation with President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney showed he knew how to win a debate. Monday night he showed he knew how to lose a debate -- in the hopes of winning the presidency.

OPINION: Anthem could bring note of civility to debates OPINION: Anthem could bring note of civility to debates

OPINION | Listening to the national anthem before the start of the baseball championship game Monday night, an hour or so before the final presidential debate was to start, we wondered about the custom of beginning a game with the anthem, sung a cappella, before a hushed stadium.

OPINION: Breaking down the foreign policy presidential debate between Obama and Romney OPINION: Breaking down the foreign policy presidential debate between Obama and Romney

The economy is in the worst recovery since World War II, the world is likewise a scary mess, and so maybe it wasn't surprising in a debate on foreign issues Monday night that the President sought refuge in pettiness.

OPINION: A recovery that wasn OPINION: A recovery that wasn't, poverty rates high and median incomes down

The recovery, mugged by a pork-ridden stimulus and a malicious gang of other misconceived policies, is limping along more weakly than any recovery since World War II.

OPINION: Pros, cons of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney OPINION: Pros, cons of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

We lurch from debate to debate, poll to poll, leaked video to calamity overseas. One day we decide we'll settle for Obama. The next, we're leaning toward rolling the dice and taking a chance on Romney.