Rob Portman’s speech

Rob Portman reportedly was near the top of the VP short list. But for his important involvement in the Bush administration, he might have received the nod. Portman is known as a cerebral guy. But tonight he is demonstrating strong qualities on the stump as well.

Portman has hammered home perhaps the single most telling indictment of President Obama — the fact that his budget failed to gain a single vote in Congress. He has also reminded his audience of Obama’s statement that if the economy does not turn around in three years, he will be a one-term president. Good stuff.

In another nice touch, Portman deferred to talking about his personal family story until near the end of his speech. And at that point, he did so briefly and in the direct service of his critique of Obama. Portman’s father, a highly successful businessman, says he is not sure if he would take the risks he did all those years ago in today’s over-regulated, business unfriendly environment.

The key here is risk. Obama is correct that there are lots of smart and hard-working people out there. But Obama didn’t mention the essence of what it takes to be a successful small businessman — willingness to risk it all. That quality is pretty rare.

Obama’s failure to recognize its centrality could not be more telling. It demonstrates true economic cluelessness and explains in part his recklessly cavalier attitude toward the business environment. The rest of the explanation resides, unfortunately, in ideology and contempt.

The contrast between Obama and Romney on these counts could not be more stark.

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