Perhaps Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign wasn't meaningless after all. During the Florida primary, I tracked Gingrich and his ludicrous proposals to overhaul the entire federal government so quickly upon taking office that he would barely have time to change into a tux for the inauguration parties. His extensive list of promises for day one was absurd, yet it seems to have influenced Mitt Romney. Romney's first general-election ad was titled "Day One," and now the Republican nominee revisits the same idea in a new ad, unimaginatively called "Day One, Part Two."
Between these two ads, Romney has promised a first day that will include:
- Immediate approval to construct the Keystone Pipeline
- Executive orders to halt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act
- The introduction of tax cuts for "job creators"
- Deficit reduction
- "Ending the Obama era of big government" (this one is left up to the viewer's interpretation)
- Threatening China on trade to "demand they play by the rules"
- A repeal of "job-killing regulations"
Romney's day-one schedule is only less absurd than Gingrich's because it lacks specificity. Gingrich—befitting his self-image as the Republicans' great thinker—was willing to attach specific language and numbers to his goals, such as the claim that "by the end of that first day—about the time that President Obama arrives back in Chicago—we will have dismantled about 40 percent of his government." Romney, on the other hand, sticks to vague platitudes. It's the same approach he has applied to his economic and health-care proposals: Romney has laid out a broad overarching vision without diving into the nitty-gritty of crafting policy. That blank slate has allowed Romney to make a host of general pledges without providing the details that would allow observers to weigh whether he's capable of achieving them.