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Is it Romney?

The latest Gallup poll has Romney ringing in the new year at the top of the pack yet again. The theme of the 2012 Republican primary has been one challenger after another racing after Romney, only to shine for a moment and quickly burn out. Thus far, Romney has shown amazing endurance and his rivals have served only to distract the Democrat's ire from the once and future GOP forerunner.

Power Line's John Hinderaker recently issued a full-throated endorsement of Romney, quickly followed by a strong endorsement, on different foundations, from Ann Coulter. Chris Christie is speaking at Romney rallies. This isn't to say that the race is over. Power Line is a house divided, with Johnson and Hayward still resisting the potential inevitability of a Romney victory. But if Gingrich fades and Santorum fails to rise, the options are running thin.

NLT hasn't really come out screaming in favor of a (viable) candidate. Peter Schramm seems to be supporting Romney (or at least opposing Gingrich) along the lines of George Will and Ramesh Ponnuru. I tend to agree. While I'm not in love with Romney any more than the next conservative, he seems to fulfill the Buckley Rule without any aberrations which make him absolutely unpalatable.

This is all just a survey of the present lay of the land. I don't feel sufficiently compelled to root for Romney, and so am still willing to entertain opposition. And, politically, I think it's good for Romney to have continuing opposition - once he becomes the heir apparent, the left's political machine will begin a non-stop smear campaign which is presently diffused among the GOP field. Romney's star rose early, but constant competition has kept him from becoming a bore and beginning to descend.

Nonetheless, conservatives might want to begin privately accepting that Romney will be the party's standard-bearer in 2012.

Categories > Elections

Discussions - 11 Comments

Yea, great, deja vu all over again. I seem to recall how "electability" and "inevitability" played into McCain's nomination, and I also remember how well that went. Our problem is that Romney doesn't excite anyone. Obama's last card is his "charisma," and we NEED some of that. All I have to say is his running mate better have some of it because Mr. RINO sure as hell doesn't.

I will vote for Romney if he is the nominee ("Anyone but Obama"), but I know people who won't. They are tired of the GOP establishment and its "moderate" (i.e., Democrat-lite) candidates. Make no mistake, Obama has a built-in electorate, and we will need to motivate people to vote against him in order to win. In my book, Romney may not have the power to do this.

If as many people come out to vote for Romney as voted for McCain, we will not have four more years of Obama. His support has eroded. Not only is he no longer a novelty, but many who voted for him no longer want his variety of hope and seeing what he meant by change are now appalled and even frightened. That's why he keeps evoking former presidents as his models, trying to find legitimate link to the past that justifies what he does.

What we have to do is persuade those of our friends who will not vote for Romney in the presidential election that they are risking America's future to whatever Obama has to offer when he no longer has to be concerned with reelection. If that does not scare them in "Anyone but Obama" then they are really not our friends.

That last "in" I meant to be an "into". Sorry.

Once more with feeling:

A. John McCain has represented Arizona in Congress for 29 years; not Detroit, not Miami, not Long Island, but Arizona, home of Barry Goldwater.

B. The American Conservative Union tallies the degree of agreement members of Congress manifest with a preferred menu of issues as manifested by votes in Congress. John McCain is usually rated as being in agreement north of 80% of the time.

C. John McCain has twice been a vigorous competitor for the Republican nomination for president, competing for the votes of the 10% or so of adult citizens motivated to cast ballots in Republican primaries and caucuses.

D. Most aspirants who set up fund-raising operations and circulate petitions and such do not achieve the status of being true competitors. The following managed to win delegates in jurisdictions in which they had not run before or achieved a baseline of votes in primaries and caucuses:

1. Barry Goldwater
2. Henry Cabot Lodge
3. Nelson Rockefeller
4. William Scranton
5. Margaret Chase Smith
6. Richard Nixon (2d run)
7. Nelson Rockefeller (2d run)
8. Ronald Reagan
9. Richard Nixon (3d run)
10. Gerald Ford
11. Ronald Reagan (2d run)
12. John Anderson
12. George Bush the Elder
13. Ronald Reagan (3d run)
14. Ronald Reagan (4th run)
15. George Bush the Elder (2d run)
16. Robert Dole
17. 'Pat' Robertson
18. George Bush the Elder (3d run)
19. Patrick Buchanan
20. Robert Dole (2d competitive run)
21. Patrick Buchanan (2d run)
22. 'Steve' Forbes
23. George Bush the Younger
24. John McCain
25. Alan Keyes
26. George Bush the Younger (2d run)
27. John McCain (2d run)
28. 'Mike' Huckabee
29. 'Ron' Paul
30. Mitt Romney

By my count, numbers 8, 17, 19, 22, 25, and 29 were demonstration candidacies meant to rally a particular constituency or press a set of issues, much as Jesse Jackson's candidacies were in Democratic contests. Among the remainder, how many are demonstrably better than John McCain according to non-idiosyncratic criteria. Keep in mind, these are the people for whom actual flesh-and-blood Republicans voted.

Not sure what your point is. McCain LOST, and he lost because he failed to excite the conservatives and moderates as much as Obama excited the other side. I think Romney is more of a RINO than McCain, but that's beside the point. Neither man has much charisma, and that's the problem.

And Kate, the last survey I saw put Obama at 40%+ in approval. That easily makes him a contender.

My point, Redwald, is that the RINO discourse is foolish, nearly always and everywhere. It is not maliciously stupid in the manner of the complaints you hear about 'neocons', but it is foolish.

John McCain is an ordinary Republican politician and his candidacies have been assented to by the modest minority of the electorate who are committed Republicans. It does not make much sense to say that he is a Republican-in-Name-Only because, bluntly put, he defines what is authentically Republican, not you. The problem is not that the Senator is spurious, it is that the culture and thrust of the Republican Party is not what you would like it to be. That is bound to be the case in a political system where your choices are binary.

Now, Congress is hopelessly inefficient and gives priority to protecting the prerogatives of individual legislators and fellating constituency groups. You can look at the organization of the federal executive and see the results of that. That is a trans-ideological problem, however.

The fact that McCain lost is of no consequence in this discussion. As often as not in the last century, political parties seeking a third turn at the wheel of the executive have failed, even in passably congenial economic circumstances (1960, 1976, 2000). Sen. McCain happened to be running in the midst of a banking crisis unlike any seen in 75 years or more. The conditions and the regulatory regime which made that possible were more the doing of the Democratic congressional caucus than they were of the administration (much less Sen. McCain), but the public was not parsing that out. It is a wonder Sen. McCain did as well as he did.

As for Obama being a 'contender', well, you never say never. That having been said, the only precedent in the post-war period that might be of comfort to the President would Pres. Truman's recovery in public approval in the latter half of 1948. The real economy was growing at a rate of 4.5% per annum in the 15 months prior to that election. That's not going to happen this year.

"In a new book, Boston journalist Roland Scott reports that Mitt Romney ran on a pro-choice platform in 1994 after “polling from Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s former pollster whom Romney had hired for the ’94 campaign, showed it would be impossible for a pro-life candidate to win statewide office in Massachusetts.” Romney is now trying to assure conservative voters he is pro-life, and has previously said his switch before running for the presidency was a moral revelation."

So much for conservative mantras of "character matters" or "principles first."

"John McCain is an ordinary Republican politician and his candidacies have been assented to by the modest minority of the electorate who are committed Republicans. It does not make much sense to say that he is a Republican-in-Name-Only because, bluntly put, he defines what is authentically Republican, not you"

And that's the problem. Where do you think the Tea Party comes from? We are CONSERVATIVES. It's not our fault that the GOP has become synonymous with conservativism. CINO doesn't have the same punch. And, I might add, without the conservative base (and the South) the GOP is dead in the water. We WANT more conservative candidates. I'm not sure why we've had such trouble producing real leaders (although the Dems can claim no better record in this regard). It may be a "trans-ideological" problem as you say. Nonetheless, my major point has been that Romney lacks star appeal. Given his questionable conservative credentials/record, that's a double whammy.

Take some instruction from Phyllis Schlafly: when your choices are binary, your side has a greater chance of getting individual elements of its program enacted. The trouble is, the program of such an omnibus organization is likely to be disappointing. Israel has a Baskin-and-Robbins selection of political parties. You can likely find just what you want. You can also generally expect your party of choice to receive 5 or 6 % of the seats in the national legislature (if they receive any at all).

What you are asking for is for the positioning of the whole political spectrum to change and for characteristics of the dialectic of policy to change. To some degree, that has happened in the last 35 years. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Rudolph Giuliani are figures of note in part because their administrations changed the terms of debate and changed assumptions about where the burden of proof lay in political arguments.

(I should note that what counts as 'conservative' is not fixed, either).

Whether 'more conservative' or 'less conservative' candidates are more likely to be victorious is a function of circumstances, and those circumstances are not fixed.

As for why the Tea Party has come into being, you might ask yourself why there is such frustration among a certain class of Republican voters. I will offer several proximate causes:

1. The Republican Party between 1995 and 2007 held a mean of 226 seats in the House of Representatives. Any spectrum of opinion has people in the tails of the bell curve and in that circumstance a half-dozen temporizing and ambivalent New England Republicans can throw a spanner in the works when combined with a few others who have idiosyncratic reasons to oppose one or another piece of legislation and a few others acting as tribunes for local commercial and industrial interests.

2. The rules of the Senate require supermajorities for consequential legislation.

3. People present in Congress for long periods tend to be socialized into what might be called a 'Washington consensus'. Call the process 'Lugarization'.

4. The nominating process keeps throwing up people who are fairly unambitious about domestic policy. Well they should be, because Congress is good at nothing but spinning its wheels.

To some extent, your problem is that the general electorate and the Republican core are not what the Tea partisans would have them be. To some extent, you have a problem of institutional defects. If you want to correct that, you have to stop fetishizing The Federalist papers.

I don't believe I'm fetishizing anything. I do believe that the original intent of the American Experiment has been lost by corruption, political pressure, and complacency, and that the conservative base of the GOP has to become insistent that we return to many of the Founding principles. Sorry if that distresses you, but if politics is a dialectic process then it takes extremes to move the "consensus" in any direction. The whole purpose of social movements is to accomplish such change, and people use movements because they work. It's long since time that the Right in this country adopting these strategies.

As for the definition of "conservative," the true meaning has never changed, at least not for people who are deeply engaged in the movement.

Well you could follow Pete's advice and go with Santorum (the likely Iowa winner).

The damn Romney campaign has been genius in slamming front runners and boosting dark horses.

Onslaught Newt, rumor Paul could win Iowa.

Oh shit Paul is winning Iowa...onslaught Paul, rumor Santorum.

Oops Santorum won Iowa... no big deal, all the other candidates will have to spin a good showing, which means they came close, but no one came as close as Romney's .1%.

Anyone but problem, the Romney campaign will find you your ideological bag of tea, and spin its virtues!

This is called the Romney-X campaign.

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