Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Is Mitt Romney just John McCain with hair?

I don’t mean to suggest a similarity of temperament or judgment. The question occurs to me solely in the context of electability.

The situation is far different now than it was in November of 2008, of course. John McCain suffered from a number of disadvantages, not the least of which was a campaign in which instances of ineptitude on the part of himself and his staff frequently manifested themselves at inopportune moments like so many dead goldfish floating to the surface of a stagnant ornamental pond during an outdoor wedding reception. McCain’s biggest drawback, however, was his ill-disguised hostility to the conservative base, and the lingering fear among many conservatives that, in any contest with Democrats in Congress, McCain’s almost totemic veneration for compromise would encourage him to sell his – and his fellow citizens’ - birthright for a mess of pottage.

And then there was the spectacle of Barack Obama, sailing along easily on the trade winds of a story-book liberal narrative, crafted by his political machine and assisted by an adoring media. He was the healer, the “light worker”, the cosmopolitan brainiac who would miraculously cure the ills of the planet and its peoples, the man who was so conspicuously not George Bush. Possessing nothing in the way of tangible accomplishments, he was nonetheless armed with the indispensable tools of success in this know-nothing era : an obscure history buried under a mountain of hagiographical applesauce, a sonorous baritone and the borrowed trappings of a divine afflatus. It was all so impressive, so momentous, so promising, so…transparently fraudulent - but this last, unfortunately, only to voters who were both (1) paying attention and (2) not entirely unmoored from common sense (which is why, in the end, I grudgingly cast my vote for McCain, the lesser, by far, of two evils).

Fast forward, and today it is clear that even many of Obama’s dizziest fans, fetched early during his skyrocketing rise to national fame by all the glittering hype, have figured out that he is not a high lama of the Yellow Hats or the 12th imam, so his campaign for reelection has been brought back down to earth and is now taking the form of traditional demagoguery, garden variety mendacity and government baksheesh scattered among his well-heeled donors and favored constituencies. The economy limps along under the crushing weight of excessive government borrowing, unemployment is maddeningly high, the leftist satraps of the executive branch’s far flung regulatory network continue to chip away at our liberty, the Department of Justice has assumed a high place among our leading criminal enterprises, and the world beyond our shores is an increasingly dangerous environment in which this administration’s diplomats have proved to be ominously unsure guides.

In short, the banner of leftist ideology, carried by its boldest and most well-favored champion, has been shot to doll rags by reality, and there is a yearning among the people for a return to truth, justice and the American way. But is Romney Superman?

I am skeptical. While Romney’s organization is more competent and efficient that McCain’s ever was, his historical flip-flopping on a number of issues, and present reluctance to tip his hat to, let alone embrace, the concept of genuinely limited government, have cast him in the role of the much-maligned RINO. Does he have deep-seated beliefs – in anything – or is he truly a mere weathervane of establishment opinion? I have written before about the tendency of “moderate” Republicans to content themselves with serving as nothing more than a mass of barnacles on the Ship of State, slowing down, but not altering the course, of our apparently ineluctable voyage to socialism. Does Romney have settled conservative convictions, and the courage to defend them? Or is he just the Un-Obama?

Because if he’s simply the latter, I’m not sure that’s going to be enough. Romney has been running for president for years, and has never been able to break out of the 25% range of support among Republicans - largely, I believe, because of the slipperiness of his worldview. Is he really the person we want to send into the ring to duke it out with a weary, but still determined, foe? One who, moreover, is not averse to delivering rabbit punches and who will draw strength and confidence from a cheering press section?

Mark Levin has stated on many occasions that he would vote for a can of orange juice if that were the only alternative to Obama. So would I, and so will I vote for Romney if he is the Republican nominee – after all, if nothing else, at least he doesn’t burn with a desire to remake the country according to the hallucinatory visions of Richard Cloward and Frances Piven. But, aside from the absence of radical impulses – and even that virtue is suspect, given RomneyCare and the candidate’s refusal to back away from the individual mandate (which is akin to spiking one of our biggest guns in next year's battle, incidentally) - does Romney have more positive substance than the otherwise delightful breakfast beverage? And if not, will he still be able to beat Obama? In the meantime, I pray for a boost in the fortunes of Santorum or Perry or even Gingrich.

Update: Bryan Preston - a Romney endorser who isn’t reluctant to criticize the candidate – has some thoughtful observations on the Republican field.


Anonymous said...

Deborah Leigh said... Mark Levin is a brilliant man, but probably wouldn't vote for Ron Paul. Paul is dangeous, and divisive. But like a good used car salesperson speaking to desperate pedestrians, he sells them without regard to the fine print. The lack of critical thinking and knowledge of how the world works leads people to back Paul. This holds for other candidates as well. Paul's foreign policy is as dangerous as Obama's.

rinardman said...

Or is he just the Un-Obama?

That's all I see. I don't think he would stand a chance. He won't be able to attack Obama in a way that will resonate with independent voters on the fence about Obama.

I like Gingrich's message, and would love to see him debate #4, without teleprompters in the room.
But, the Republican elite have declared him to have too much "baggage", and I don't see him getting the support the nominee will need from the party, to stop a re-election.

Right now, the only way I see a Republican in the White House in 2012, is if the economy stays really bad next year, and BHO finally does something so stupid even his lapdogs will back away from him.

Welcome to the USSR v2.0

RebeccaH said...

This was my response to Preston's article, and I stand by it.

It led them to embrace Rick Perry, who turned out to be unable to articulate a conservative thought;

Do as I do, and not as others say.

"Is Rick Perry really such a bad choice? The man has a proven record as a long-time governor of a very large, very economically viable state. So he’s not a silver-tongued devil. I kind of think that’s a blessing, given what’s in office today."

One of the worst aspects of the American character today is to fall for glibness, good hair, and a pleasing voice, and that's in all areas of our public life. We don't look at actual records, facts, RESULTS, anymore. We go for the prettiest, most charismatic movie star.

And as long as we keep doing that, things will not get better. They'll only get worse. It's time we embrace the not so pretty, the tongue-tied, the guy who gets real, useful things done.

RebeccaH said...

And btw, Paco, I think your post ought to be spread around the blogosphere. Very well said.

JeffS said...

Romney and McCain do share a lot of problems in common, but Romney reminds me more of John Edwards than anyone else from the 2008 campaign.

I say that because Romney strives to present the picture of a perfect candidate, through spin doctoring and following the electoral wind sock. He's a facade for a hard core RINO.

I don't think he's narcissistic as Edwards, and I don't believe that Mitt dips his wick, but he presents an image disturbingly like Edwards.

But in spite of that, yeah, he's the potential un-Obama, especially with the circular firing squad the GOP is running.

Yojmbo said...

Romney is just low key right now because he thinks he has the nomination wrapped up and he doesn't want to burn any bridges to the folding candidates.

At any rate: This is what we've got! So you had better just get used to it. We have two certified conservative candidates and one rerasonably conservative candidate and they are doing squat diddly.
So vote for Romney and work for Tea Party types for the Senate and House.

Our best candidates won't be ready until 2016 and by that time it will be too late for the country anyway.

Besides, there is a very good chance that Ron Paul will run a third party ticket. This is his last chance and he doesn't seem to want to qo quietly into the night. That will probably draw about 5% net of the Republican vote away. You can't reason with the Paulbots, they are fanatical followers. Add another 1 to 2% for the Johnson Libertarians and there ya go.

Our only hope is Palin or Ryan changing their mind.

Paco said...

Thankee, Rebecca. I try to get off a good 'un every now and then.

JeffS said...

So vote for Romney and work for Tea Party types for the Senate and House.

Sound advice, Yojimbo.

RebeccaH said...

Yojimbo has sound advice in that we're going to get stuck with whatever Republican nominee we get stuck with, and the best thing to do is vote for the Republican nominee, because Anything Is Better Than Obama.

The real revolutionary battle is to sweep Congress (and our local city councils, state legislatures, etc.) clean of the Gramscian-indoctrinated idiots who infest the body politic... in other words, the useful idiots who don't think for themselves.

To boil it down: the battle isn't won with the election of a new president. It probably isn't won within my limited lifetime, but I pray to God, my children and grandchildren will at least see victory against this insidious totalitariansm.

Brett L said...

Ugh. If Romney wins, we go back to big gummint Republicanism straight out of 2003. That may be the least worst alternative, unfortunately. A pox on all their houses. The Republic has become so decadent that no sane person can run for president. Paco 2016.

Paco said...

Brett: I am reminded of something my father, Old Paco, once said when his friends tried to get him to run for office. "The only thing I ever ran for was the county line."

Yojimbo said...

Brett, the key to a Romney win is to get enough Tea Party activists elected to the Senate and House and replace the current leadership.

The entire domestic policy agenda of shrinking government can be handled in the Legislature and he will not veto Republican legislation. He will not be allowed to nominate some squishy jurist for the Supreme Court if he is forced to replace one of the strong five. We may even luck into a fence sitter when he replaces Ruth Bader Whatever as well.