In today's Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan makes a point that conservatives have made making since the beginning of the primary -- it's not enough for Romney to be the anti-Obama. He has to be for something (and no, being for getting rid of Obama isn't what she's getting at).
With just more than 130 days to go, Mr. Romney has to start pulling from his brain and soul a coherent and graspable sense of the meaning of his run. "I will be president for this reason and this. I will move for this and this. The philosophy that impels me consists of these things."
Only when he does this will he show that he actually does have a larger purpose, and only then will people really turn toward him. He has to tell Americans why they can believe him, why a nation saturated with politics, chronically disappointed by its leaders, and tired of promises can, actually, put some faith in him.
It's a candidacy, she argues, that's based on applause lines that aren't much deeper than the few sentences they occupy.
If all it is is applause lines, they'll turn away. More important, applause-line speeches are not right for a time of crisis, because they do not allow for the development of a thought, a point of view, an insight. Those things take quiet building. Sometimes they take paragraphs, sometimes pages. They take time. But people like to listen if you're saying something interesting.