Imagining a new administration

Let us assume that the first presidential debate has set the tone for the election and that the president’s smooth path to re-election – if such ever existed – has been severely jolted. There is now a real race on, and Mitt Romney could well become president in January. Does that really matter? This column is no fan of Barack Obama, but the two parties are very, very, similar, and argue about tiny differences in the size of government. Republicans pretend to shrink it. Democrats claim to expand it, but this is often pretense as well. Little changes. Could a Romney administration make a real change, or would he merely manage things a little better than the incumbent?

There is a chance of change. Romney would come to power committed to repealing Obamacare, but not to restoring the status quo ante. President Obama has irredeemably politicized healthcare, so there is no consensus to which Romney can cling. Budgetary pressures make long term reform essential, but immediate savings will have to come from elsewhere: probably the economic departments which clog the economy.

Romney has also criticized the President’s rudderless foreign policy, including divisions between the President, Vice-President and Secretary of State over the Arab Awakening, and the disgraceful ten day gap between the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and President Obama defending freedom of speech.

Could Mitt Romney put in place teams which would address these issues? On national security, such a team would balance idealists and pragmatists, channeling their advice through a strong Secretary of State.

This column set out a few weeks ago how neo-conservatism could be reimagined for a new decade, as a policy which builds new societies. Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense and former head of the IMF should be the idealist voice in a Romney administration, probably as National Security Advisor. But such a voice would need to be balanced by someone more pragmatic. Former Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham, would be a good choice. He should UN Ambassador, and deliver at least one major address in Arabic.

Condoleeza Rice should return to the State Department. David Petraeus should stay at CIA, a strong military voice at the table. The Pentagon, however, needs major reforms that can only be led by a politician Retiring Senator Joe Lieberman would be first class, and be the hawkish contributor to internal debates.

Real reform of the economy and entitlements will require at least some bipartisan support. To lead this, former Senator Bob Kerrey should be Treasury Secretary. He genuinely understands the need to address long-term budget issues. Working closely with Vice-President Ryan, he could deliver real reforms. But government needs to be rolled out of the economy too. No Wall Street type at Commerce, but retiring Rep. Ron Paul, to drive deregulation, and the keep the focus on Main Street.

But Ryan and Kerrey will need a strong figure at Health and Human Services, to lay out a new vision to replace the bankrupt and unaffordable third party payment model. This is not just about saving money and postponing the budget crisis, it is about individual control of healthcare. The ideal choice here is John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods Market, which has delivered an excellent healthcare plan for employees with beneficiaries, not insurance companies or government, in control of health spending.

Quentin Langley is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire Business School as well as a freelance columnist published in the UK and all parts of the US. He blogs on social media and crisis communications at

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