Now the party conventions are behind us, Gov. Romney is being urged to take the offensive. The Republican candidate has rightly addressed presidential incompetence, but laziness and hypocrisy perhaps deserve a mention.
Why laziness? The new president inherited a deep recession that was not his fault, and a stimulus program was probably in order. He advocated some shovel-ready projects, but then stood aside as his plan was hijacked by a venal Democratic congress. The predictable result was a vast increase in debt, little improvement in the state of the nation's infrastructure, and a sleek, well-fed look on the faces of the party's interest groups.
The banking crisis pointed up the need for new financial regulation. Good regulation features benefits which exceed costs; bad regulation costs that exceed benefits. With presidential oversight conspicuously lacking, Congress produced Dodd-Frank, whose compliance costs far exceed any benefits it may have. One banker, required to wrestle with its complexities, dubbed it Dodd-Frankenstein.
In a similar fashion, Obama stood idly by as Congress botched the Affordable Health Care Act, supposedly a major goal of his administration.
Why hypocrisy? As Vice President Biden put it in his own inimitable fashion, the administration's top priority was a three-letter word, J-O-B-S, Jobs, yet early in his presidency, during the worst recession in 70 years, Obama permitted the minimum wage to rise.
That had a predictable and devastating effect on the employment prospects of the unskilled, teenagers and members of minority groups prominent among them.
Having pointed up the need to improve our educational system, which is inferior to that of some third-world countries, the president's solution was simply to throw money at it. Decades of experience of this have shown that this does not work, so long as the schools are run for the benefit of the teachers' unions and not the children. When the governor of Wisconsin took on this very powerful interest group, Obama sided with the unions.
Most damning of all, he accused businessmen of outsourcing jobs, when it was the unfriendly business climate he himself had created that drove them to build plants overseas.
The president has spent millions of dollars, and most of his time, portraying his opponent as something that he is not. Romney, who has been reluctant to respond in kind, should remember that offense is the best form of defense.