Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Reactions to the McCain victory

Hugh Hewitt hasn’t given up altogether, but seems to think that Huckabee’s past and future role can only be to make things harder for his man Romney. Ramesh Ponnuru makes a version of this argument in drawing a parallel with 1996--Huckabee is Pat Buchanan made young and beautiful, taking out Romney, who is Phil Gramm made young and beautiful.

I guess I don’t buy the argument that Huckabee’s presence in the race hurt Romney, because I’m not convinced that the folks who voted or will still vote for Mike would have, in his absence, voted for Mitt. Part of the reason for this, I’ve already noted: there are evangelicals who have a hard time elevating a Mormon to the highest political office in the land. But there are also these three additional considerations. First, Romney seems a little less solid on pro-life issues than is McCain. The latter hasn’t flip-flopped on the subject, and doesn’t give the appearance of taking positions in order to position himself for various constituencies. Second, a lot of evangelicals are very serious about our conflict with jihadism, regarding it as both a matter of national security and a civilizational challenge. McCain the warrior-president fits this part of their "worldview" better than does Romney the manager-president. Third, note that Huckabee’s voters are younger than either Romney’s or McCain’s. As I’ve noted before, younger evangelicals tend to have a broader range of policy concerns than their elders. This doesn’t mean (as some commentators have suggested) that they’ll trade a congenial position on global AIDS relief, human trafficking, or the environment for a less congenial position on abortion, just that they’re not natural constituents of a more or less classic business Republican. Absent Huckabee, they don’t all naturally gravitate toward Romney.

Changing the subject, I liked this NRO symposium, especially for its suggestions about how McCain and his conservative critics could arrive at a modus vivendi. I have at least one quibble, however: McCain does need a running mate that conservatives find congenial, but not the aged Hamlet Fred Thompson. A big risk with McCain at the head of the ticket and a similarly "experienced" running mate is that Republicans will lose touch with younger voters who, if they get into the habit, will vote the "wrong" way for a long time.

Dean Barnett makes the argument that the GOP has become somewhat like the Democrats--a coalition of narrowish interests that finds unity only in everyone’s dislike of the other party. Romney’s problem, in his view, is that, in trying to please everyone, he didn’t effectively energize any constituency in particular.

Discussions - 16 Comments

The only option that McCain should be left with is the one that was open for Henry IV at Canossa, where he had to beg Hildebrand, {Pope Gregory VII} for forgiveness, and had to plead that the ban of excommunication be lifted from him. Hildebrand made Henry IV sit outside for three full days, "in the snow, barefoot, in penitential garb, holding a lighted candle." Of course Hildebrand would have much preferred to bring the issues between them to final resolution IN Germany, but Henry staved him off in one of the Alpine passes, and Hildebrand, being a priest and bishop, was left with no choice but to accept Henry IV's penance.

Henry of course soon proved himself perfidious.

Romney has made mistakes in his candidacy. He did not define his positions on the issues and was too timid to reveal a more conservative stance. I also think his generally inclusive and agreeable personality does not play well in the media world. And he is a Republican with a particularly good brain, not what the media likes. Though I am not a strongly religious person, his speech on Mormonism impressed me, though I really was routing for Thompson.

But, he is not solely to blame for his failure to thrive as a candidate. MSM has tight control of the narrative of any issue, they control what and how the masses shall perceive any subject, mostly by inclusion or omission. And they didn't like Romney.

We've had 3-4 decades of that control, in addition to a deplorable education system in which the majority's basic knowledge of the country's history, civics and economics is horribly skewed. I think people are overwhelmed with distorted information, and have lost their ability to think critically. The problem is cross-generational.

Personally, if conservativism is to die, I want the results of that under the Democrat's watch. I want the crap in the next 4-8 years to be the Democrats burden, rightly deserved, and not associated with a weak Republican like McCain.

There is something seriously wrong with that man.

"MSM has tight control of the narrative of any issue, they control what and how the masses shall perceive any subject, mostly by inclusion or omission."

"I want the crap in the next 4-8 years to be the Democrats burden, rightly deserved, and not associated with a weak Republican like McCain."

Do you not think the MSM will control the narrative of the blame when things start to go wrong? I'm not a particularly creative person, but I can easily see how they'll simply spin it as problems that had their roots in George W. Bush and 12 years of Republican rule of Congress, not to mention the effects of Alito and Roberts on the Court.

Liberals never admit they were wrong, and never accept responsibility for their policy. That's a central element of their thinking. Since the advent of liberalism as a secular religion, that becomes even more deeply entrenched.

What Hewitt and Ponnuru are saying about Huck stealing support that would naturally flow to Romney were Huck out of the race, really ought to be true and, yet, somehow it is not. That's why they're all so frustrated. But the fact that it isn't quite true ought to be telling. Why can't Romney garner the support he ought to have in their estimation? If they really cared about this guy and his chances I think now would be a good time to consider that it's MUCH, MUCH more than the Mormon thing holding him back. And it's not just the so-called "flip-flops" either. Those are both excuses--both from those who cite them and from his supporters who decry their citing. No grown up conservative voter is really shocked or appalled by either thing. What's really going on is Romney's inability to connect with the base--and that's got something to do with his lack of "regular guy" appeal. They need to stop being so defensive about this. It's not just that he's rich. Lots of rich guys have regular guy appeal. It's not that people are jealous either. That's so condescending and I'm so tired of hearing it! People are not jealous of people they don't particularly admire. If people are saying they don't find you especially appealing--call me crazy--but it might be because that's actually their opinion! If Romney's friends would only stop and think outside of their narrative, they might see the problem. If he had addressed this from the beginning, I think he would have had a much better shot. He needs to overcome this lack of appeal, and very fast, if there's any chance of his remaining alive in the race. That said, I'm probably voting for the guy in our primary.

Julie, it's a bit beyond that. He's simply not spent enough time in the cultural trenches, earing a reputation as a Conservative. Had he spent five years fighting for the conservative agenda, the flipping and the flopping really wouldn't have been an issue. It was the timing of those flops. It was the fact that they occurred almost at the time he started his presidential campaign. Sure, mature political observers understand that politicians change positions from time to time. But political maturity also requires assessing CREDIBILITY, for credibility is always at issue.

Romney has a passion deficit.

I'm watching the debate tonight. And one of the few times I've seen Romney speak where there was something glowing inside him was when he spoke about reducing entitlements. Gingrich was and is passionate. Reagan was passionate. T.R. was passionate. PASSIONATE politicians are more likely to be successful and leave majorities in their wake. Nobody gets enthusiastic about guys like Chuck Hagel, Dick Lugar and Arlen Specter.

During this lengthy campaign season Romney needed to reveal what gets him excited about governing. That's the secret. Rudy was successful in NYC because he was passionate, because it was crystal clear that he deeply, deeply loved his city, and the citizens thereof. That's what motivated him, that's what drove him, that's what made him endure the pain of cancer treatments, but still go to the funerals of men who worked for the people of NYC. PASSION! FIRE!

Oh God, now McCain is saying he's "proud" of Saint Sandra Day O'Connor. Un-fricken-believable! The guy goes OUT OF HIS WAY to antagonize Conservatives. What is that guy's major malfunction?

And now McCain is doing the whole speak real slowly bit like he's on Valium. It's exactly the kind of speaking style we've gotten from Democrats like Janet Reno, Schumer and Daschle. And it's all a dodge. It's an affectation of a Washington flack.

MEN don't change their voices and their speaking styles in that fashion. Democrats do though. Libs are real keen on that.

McCain's nasty side came out in a big way tonight. He was attacking Romney when he probably didn't need to. And he did it because he couldn't help himself, he enjoyed it, it was something he just couldn't let pass.

Romney is too civil for his own good; he doesn't know how to focus ferocity. In one's personal life, that's perfectly fine, but in politics, in statecraft, that's a HUGE problem. Then again, it indicates how completely in control of himself he is, and there's virtue in that.

Too bad he never studied Patton. For Patton understood theatrics, he understood studied outrage, calculated displays of anger.

I agree very much with Dan on Romney's performance tonight. He let McCain walk all over him and McCain was enjoying it. This was a time for anger and Romney let it slip. Can one have a thymos deficit and still have ambition? McCain is very good with the inside smirk. Maybe he's earned it in a way but it is very displeasing to me.

Not that Robert, he didn't let him walk all over top of 'em, it was that he let pass opportunities to go over on the offensive against McCain. When McCain said for instance that Florida should be able to control whether drilling occurs off their coastline, and that California should be able to dictate its own emission policy, ROMNEY then could have said "Well John, why is that California can carve their own emission policy, but Alaska can't open up their own wildlife preserve, weren't you the one that said Alaska can't open up ANWR, so what's the difference between California and Alaska." Recall Alaskans by a wide margin want ANWR opened up, they have no rosy view of ANWR; they know it to be the earthly equivalent to the far side of the Moon.

That was just one instance where McCain could have been shown to be a panderer, not to mention shown to be a liberal at heart, for he lines up with the liberals regarding the actions of California, Florida and Alaska.

Politics, like wars, aren't won by standing constantly on the defensive. Sooner or later you're going to have to cross over to the offense, and great field commanders know when the propitious moment has arrived.

Romney failed to grasp that moment this evening.

Lack of passion and fire may be a better way of saying what I've been trying to say for months now; that Romney lacks love handles. Or maybe he needed both? Maybe the emphasis depends on the gender of the observer? Certainly my metaphors (like cake baking v. beer brewing) don't always work with men! Tentatively, I wonder if Romney's problem with perception is that men don't see him as tough enough and women don't see him as approachable. But I haven't given this great thought. I might be shooting from the hip here.

What Julie has long been saying about the love handles has long been true, as is the thymos/Patton deficit being discussed here.

Do link everyone to the Hewitt-collected numbers Julie posted to below--they represent the real shred of hope in this dark hour. Also notice that vote-wise, McCain has only done slightly better than Romney.

Sandra Day O'Connor...Sandra Day O'Connor...yeah, folks, of course he praises her, because she's the model! I'm more convinced than ever that it would have been healthier for conservatives to have held their noses w/ pro-choice, pro-amnesty, non-family-man Giuliani than to do so with soap-opera God-only-knows-how-much-he-will-screw-conservatives McCain. If he wins the presidency, which I think highly unlikely, his PERSONALITY will be as much of a wild-card as Obama's inexperience.

Romney, for God's sake, start SAYING some of this stuff!

"...Romney lacks love handles."

Brought to you by the person who thinks that

"Dick Cheney is a hottie."

The party of "new ideas" seems to be confused these days. Perhaps someone needs to send the pretty suits some camo gear to fire up the base?

Carl, Although I still think (hope) that Romney can pull it out, if McCain gets the nomination I think he may have a lot more trouble than people expect in the general - for reasons that have more to do with his personality than the fact that he's a Republican. Especially if he's opposite Obama - his nasty streak will really be apparent, and could cause him to lose his biggest advantage right now, the MSMs love affair with him.

one of the few times I've seen Romney speak where there was something glowing inside him was when he spoke about reducing entitlements.

No one believes this. He is busy out on the campaign trail promising entitlements to domestic car manufactures in Mich., old rich folks in Florida, etc.

I know most folks here think it is an image/communication thing, but I still think it is a credibility issue - he simply is not a conservative...

Go check out drudge, which links to a story about McCain talking, JUST YESTERDAY TALKING, about "GOOKS!" Even reporters who've known him for many a year, are still stunned that he conversationally drops that term before them. When called on it, he says he's referring specifically to his torturers in The Hanoi Hilton, who were truly evil and satanic. But how is that gonna' fly with the wider populace. Sure Americans understand his anger with those who tortured him, and his friends, ------------------------- but are they going to excuse him dropping what can only be described as a racial slur.

Reporters love him for his Tail-hook Association ways, his earthy language, his skirt-chasing ways when he was younger. For guys who never knew what it was like to be part of a tight-knit group, like a successful athletic team or a fighter squadron, interacting with McCain is a glimpse into something they've never known. McCain is thus "cool" to them. For guys like me, his act got old years ago. Doesn't mean I wouldn't have a few beers with the guy, shooting the s@#t, but I'm not about to become a groupie, nor for him, NOT FOR ANYBODY.

And THAT'S conservative. For true Conservatives are REAL suspicious of anything that smacks of a cult of personality. And McCain's following doesn't look like a group of people with coherent domestic and foreign affairs positions, they seem cobbled together with nothing more than a mutual love for McCain. And that isn't enough! At least not if you're a Conservative.

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