Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why "Agenda Conservatives" Couldn’t Seal the Deal

Blogger, Patrick Ruffini over on Hugh Hewitt’s site, delivers a thoughtful, harsh, and (sadly) fair look at the intellectual cocoon a good number of what he calls "Agenda Conservatives" have spun around themselves. This explains the shock many of them are now feeling and, probably, a good deal of the bitterness too. There’s more to it than a simple charge of being "out of touch" and Ruffini, to his credit, offers more. A good place to go to start thinking about how it might be done better next time.

Discussions - 9 Comments

To the contrary, to the extent that a "cocoon" exists, it exists for those Republicans INSIDE the Beltway, not those outside it. Those inside have become jaded, rudderless, adrift, carried this way and that by whatever winds that blow and whatever fads foolishly prevail, everything from stem-cell research to global warming, campaign finance to the Fairness doctrine. If there's a fad, count on people like Barnes to give it credence.

Moreover, those inside the Beltway are reconciling themselves to things hateful not just to the party, but to a supermajority of American citizens, issues such as those relating to sovereignty, to borders, to language, to trade, issues surrounding same-sex marriage and the mainstreaming of pornography.

Furthermore Ruffini overlooks the importance of decades of deliberate deception, again on a host of issues. The base has been promised many things by people who NEVER intended to make good on any of them. Yet now people that have been played and lied to are blasted as being "out of touch." They're supposed to own up to being played, and realize that was just the nature of the game. For it's the nature of things for sheep to be sheared and rubes to be taken in. And Conservatives are urged to a "maturity" where they've made their peace with political grifters who riffled them of their property, which in this instance is their self-respect. That's what they're being told to accept. "Hey you Conservatives, you're yokels, so knock it off and let us run the party."

Oh what a winning formula that promises to be!

The base isn't just being asked to overlook certain positions held by their newly-minted standard-bearer, they're expected to overlook a decade of insults.

Who is really out of it here? Who is really out of it, those demanding slavishness in the base, or those in the base rejecting it.

As usual with our party, the base is once again demonstrating political wisdom and commonsense.

But Ruffini deems it important that the recalcitrant be brought into line, thus he cracks the whip. Forgetting that the GOP is the party that took up arms against the taskmasters of this world, we took up arms against the overseers of this world, we took up arms against the plantation masters, and their chains, their whips, their instruments of domination and oppression. We didn't shatter the yoke that burdened the black, to take it upon ourselves at this late date. No, that we did not.

John McCain can surround himself with Burke, Milton Freideman and Benjamin Disraeli, -------------------- and I don't give two damns.

I'm not interested in some ridiculous dog and pony show, nor am I interested in his ingratiating speeches, delivered in his deadening monotone.

Let him show his Conservative bona fides in action. Let him show it in the cannon's mouth.

However, Ruffini is far too harsh on Romney. Yes I who have unloaded on Romney say that Ruffini is far too harsh on him. Romney sought traction. There's no crime in that. Ruffini's take from that is that Romney lacked "authenticity." Which is something I've said for over a year. But I've never faulted him for being an ordinary politician. I've faulted him for the timing of his conversion experience, and that he was asking me to take him on faith, when he had no track record of Conservative accomplishments to his name. Over the course of this long, long campaign season, issues ebbed and flowed. There was a period where immigration seemed the most important, and other times the war, now, with recession in the air, the economy moves to the forefront. Romney spoke to the issues not just of the day, but of the hour. That's what men seeking high office do. That's being responsible AND responsive to the needs and concerns of the electorate. THAT'S TO HIS CREDIT. It was Bush who brushed aside the worries of the American people, waving it all away as "just politics." That Romney tried to connect with voters was to his credit.

Ruffini faults Romney for not being a passionate guy. But that's who he was. He's not Teddy, he's not FDR, he's not Reagan. Romney is Romney. Had Romney tried to get beyond himself, he would have been a fake. He would have made himself the inauthentic candidate that Ruffini already faulted him for being.

Over the course of this lengthy campaign season, we got a feel for who the real Romney is. Who is he then? Well first off, the guy is unfailingly POLITE. Perhaps too polite. He's incredibly well-spoken. He's quick to pick up a point, and he's got a finger to the political pulse of America. He never would have been so stupid as McCain, to have walked the plank for immigration reform. He might have waffled on the issue, but his political instincts would have safely guided him home. Not so McCain, who has a political messiah complex. What else is Romney? The guy knows the global economy, and he knows what America needs to do to continue to be in the forefront of that global economy. He's a bit fuzzy on the war effort, and he's a bit fuzzy on what an overall war effort would look like, ------------------ but isn't that the case with most of Washington right now? He's not the only one who doesn't place what our enemy is doing in its proper historical context. So he shouldn't be faulted overmuch for that.

In short Ruffini seems to fault Romney the most for being unable to fake it better. Patton had studied theatrics. So did MacArthur. Nelson loved to wear his medals, and throughout the most heated of actions, strutted the Quarterdeck where all could see him, his own men and the enemy.

But Romney isn't like that. And probably wouldn't even know how to go about a studied display of zeal, of anger, of grief. It's just not him.

Not every man on this planet has the stuff of command in him. Not every man can pull it off. And it's no insult to Romney if he lacks that. There's a great deal to Romney that is commendable. But that he wasn't able to fake authenticity enough is not something that mature political observers should hold against him.

Ruffini is criticizing the beltway for being out of touch. How many times have we said this? How much did we rail against the "establishment?" Finally a few of the "experts" are noticing, but don't hold your breath; nothing will change. The conservative establishment is still moaning about losing Mitt and talking about VP and 2012 among other ridiculous things. Mitt was a failure. All of this shows that Ruffini and other "leaders" and "intellectuals" don't really get it. Sure they will throw out a few stereotypes like "country music conservatives" and have their next candidate play some Toby Keith, but they won't truly change.

I was at CPAC last year, and proudly waved flip-flops at Romney's paid goons. We stopped this guy, and the country is thankful! The Republican Party would also be thankful for someone who could go to both CPAC and Hope, AR or any other small town and make a splash. George W. was such a candidate; I don't see any others on the horizon.

Proof that the conservative establishment is out of touch. Call that a "deer" in the country and you'll get laughed at.

Ruffini: "most voters outside the Beltway swamp — don’t listen to your words; they listen to your tone of voice as you’re delivering those words. Do you get angry when you should? What’s your sense of humor like? For social conservatives, are you grounded in faith? And ultimately, are you the real deal?"

I think that's just about right.

That's why I think conservatives ought to seriously consider crafting their message in ways that can be delivered in 30- and 60-second spots that convey deeper points of agreement without using words like "abortion" or "Roe" or "strict constructionist" or "Constitution." Convey the underlying message without using words that have long since been drained of meaning.

Reagan's "Morning in America" spot was one such message. Watch any Marine Corp commercial and you see the same.

The sorry truth is that much of "conservatism" has been effectively painted by the left and the MSM as a cartoon. But they can't touch the underlying principles of honor, duty, love of country, and the quiet application of self-responsibility. Those resonate. An overt focus on overturning Roe does not. Talk of "originalist judges" means nothing.

Agreed Don, Marine Corps commercials are almost as great as the Corps itself.

We haven't had a campaign with decent commercials since the days of Lee Atwater. The only thing worse than GW's commercials were his stump speeches. Any of you guys heard him deliver his stump speech? If not, you didn't miss much.

And Don is dead right too identifying the need for a theme that resounds throughout a campaign.

Don in AZ: Bingo! Touchdown! Exactly right.

The conservative critics of Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee weren’t wrong on every issue. But in their zeal to read both candidates out of the conservative movement, often on the flimsiest of pretexts, the movement’s leaders raised a standard of ideological purity that not even Ronald Reagan could have lived up to.

This sort of purism would have been folly in Mr. Reagan’s era, when conservatism was an insurgency with its greatest victories still ahead of it, and there were real liberal Republicans to slay along the way. It represents political suicide today.

Precisely because the right has won so many battles — on taxes, welfare, crime and the cold war — in the decades since it squared off against Gerald Ford and Jacob Javits, the greatest danger facing the contemporary Republican Party is ideological sclerosis, rather than insufficient orthodoxy.

Conservative voters seem to understand that.

Too bad their leaders don’t.

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