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Jewish Journal

Obama or Romney?

by Rob Eshman

November 1, 2012 | 2:32 pm

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, left, and President Barack Obama during the second U.S. presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y., on Oct. 16. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

Either way, you’re going to have to suck it up.

Whether you pick Obama or Romney, you are voting as much for imperfection as for promise.

This is not an election of love and enthusiasm — that was so 2008. But 2012 is not about desire — it’s about duty.

To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, after four years of Obama and two of Romney, there are very few unknown unknowns.

If you choose Obama, you are going to have to swallow a recovery far more tepid than promised. You are going to hope he will focus on jobs, jobs, jobs — and not find another 800-pound distraction like health care to vacuum up his time, energy and political capital. You are going to have to ignore his previous inability to get major legislation through Congress, his “unwillingness,” as The New York Times editorial endorsement of Obama chided, “to throw himself into the political fight.” You have to find reason to believe him when he says that this time, he will not let Simpson-Bowles, or a strong version of it, wither and die.

If you choose Romney, you are going to have to ignore the fact that nonpartisan analyses have said his deficit and jobs plans don’t add up.

“Romney’s tax cut plan doesn’t work,” wrote The Daily Beast’s David Frum, a George W. Bush speechwriter. “I’m a Republican, I support Romney, etc. But you can’t cut that much in such a stagnant economy and expect to break even. Even with a deductions cap, it just won’t happen.”

You are going to have to overlook the fact that they don’t really qualify as “plans” by your own definition of the word. You are going to have to believe he will stand up to the Grover Norquists and the Ralph Reeds and the Todd Akins — and even the Paul Ryans — when it comes to issues such as new revenues, women’s rights, civil rights.

To choose Obama is to trust that the 2012 model will reconnect with the 2008 vision. To choose Romney is to trust that Massachusetts Romney, the Romney of the general election and Denver debate, will slam the White House door on Primary Romney.

To vote for Obama is to acknowledge that, no, he probably doesn’t have Israel in his kishkas — but you have evidence that he has guided Mideast policy through difficult times and come to Israel’s defense where it matters, according to people like Ehud Barak and former Mossad director Efraim Levy, most.

To vote for Romney is to acknowledge that he has a true sense of devotion to Israel, but that he may very well bring back some of the same misguided foreign-policy crew that crippled the United States in the Iraq war and wants to write blank checks to a bloated military.

You can appreciate Romney’s intelligence when it comes to business, but you have to ignore the stunning ignorance — or disingenuousness — of the man who discounted “the 47 percent.”

You can value Obama’s commitment to extending student loans, health care and the social safety net, but you have to believe that, after the economy is stabilized, he won’t kick the issue of entitlement reform down the road.

You can appreciate Romney’s commitment to deficit reduction, but you have to believe he won’t really double down on disproven trickle-down theories.

To vote for Obama is to hope that he is more like Bill Clinton than Jimmy Carter. To vote for Romney is to hope that he is less like George W. Bush and more like George H.W. Bush — or like Bill Clinton.

“Republicans want you to think that, rhetoric aside, Romney is a pragmatic manager of the economy, while Democrats claim that he is an ideologue tilting against your most sacred beliefs,” Jewish Journal Senior Political Editor Shmuel Rosner writes in his book “The Jewish Vote.” “Democrats want you to think that, rhetoric aside, Obama is a pragmatic defender of Israel, while Republicans claim that he is an ideologue tilting against your most sacred beliefs.”

A cautious Obama voter is hoping the president will do what he says. A cautious Romney voter is hoping the governor will do, in many cases, the opposite of what he says. Either way, hope for the best.

And, above all, vote.


Rob Eshman is publisher and editor-in-chief of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal. E-mail him at robe@jewishjournal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @foodaism.

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