Friday, February 3, 2012

The ONLY Case for Romney

If you've read this blog for very long at all, you'll know that I'm a big fan of National Review's Jonah Goldberg.  I respect very much his opinions about subjects serious and silly and even when we disagree, which is not often, I still have no doubt about which side ultimately he's on.  (I wish I could say the same about a host of other "conservative" commentators.)  Anyway, today's he's to be congratulated for struggling mightily to make "The Case for Romney."   His argument is captured in his subtitle:  "A president who owes you is better than one who owns you".

In a nutshell, if we conservatives swallow hard and vote for Romney despite our many reservations and objections, then he'll owe us, he'll know that he owes us, and as such we'll own him.

I'm afraid, however, that the truth, and the evidence to support it, is just the opposite.

In 1988, George H. W. Bush was forced by GOP conservatives who were leery of him to swear publicly, "Read my lips, no new taxes."   We voted for him and he owed us, right?  How'd that deal turn out for us?

Son George's similar departures this past decade from conservative orthodoxy in domestic policy left us holding the bag yet again, both feeling and looking ridiculous as we were forced to defend or at least pretend we didn't notice the obscene growth in government that occurred during his watch.

And, as I learned just yesterday, if Romney is elected we may well find ourselves defending among other things routine cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) to the minimum wage. 

No, this kind of Faustian bargain, or "transaction" as Goldberg calls it, i.e., my vote for your promise, invariably redounds to the benefit of the candidate.  Once elected, he can always take back his promises, and often does, but we can never take back our votes.

It seems to me that the only reasonable case that can be made to a conservative for the Romney candidacy is an outright appeal to patriotism. (And I'm not sure that'll work either.)  It goes something like this:  It's true, Romney is not a conservative, never has been, and has even bragged about that fact.  Nevertheless, in an imperfect world of imperfect choices, Romney is clearly the lesser evil.  While the damage he'll do to the party and to the party label may well be irreparable, at least, maybe, we hope, please God, the damage he'll do to the country will be less than is currently being done, and much less than will be done with another Obama term.

*Goldberg defines, quite cleverly, an "establishment" Republican as "someone who has made peace with his disappointment prematurely."  While I use "establishment" Republican like most everyone else, I prefer "professional" Republican.  No matter.  What I think might be a better definition of either is someone who can look you square in the face and say without blinking or winking that Mitt Romney is a conservative.

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