While tending to things in the aftermath of my father-in-law’s passing, word came to me that Rick Santorum had dropped out. Conservatives have an opportunity, just one, to get this thing right. Mitt Romney is a set-up candidate, and the fact that he’s now warning conservatives about Obama’s anti-gun agenda merely disguises his own. I also heard a little about the Hilary Rosen flap, and I must tell you that conservatives fell for that one, hook, line and sinker. The story was nothing if not a political set-up, and both Romney and Obama were happy for it. For Obama, it gave him a chance to put Michelle Antoinette Obama “off limits,” and for Mitt Romney, it gave him a chance to rally the troops. The speed of the Romney campaign response, along with the speed at which Obama and company threw Rosen under the bus was the dead giveaway. Obama wanted a chance to put his wife’s conduct and any criticism of her “off limits,” but that’s not going to work any more than the Romney camp’s attempt to make some political hay out of it is going to help him here. I’m calling “BS” on all of it.
The throw-away remark by Rosen was just that, and another bit of political snark of the sort the Democrats will not restrain themselves from employing later. If you’ve deluded yourself into the belief that the Obama campaign won’t go after Ann Romney in the general election campaign, let me assure you: They will be merciless. What will happen is that nobody in the Romney campaign will go after Michelle Obama for her lavish vacations, her incessant meddling in nutrition policy, and otherwise interjecting her hypocritical views into the lives of we and our children. Bank on the fact that a Romney campaign, as dirty as it is willing to fight against other Republicans, will show no such fervor against Barack Obama or his spouse. What the Obamas hoped to purchase by throwing Rosen under the bus so quickly was a sort of temporary truce against spouses. They don’t want us looking too closely at Michelle’s expenditures and so on. Why not? Simply put, it’s scandalous how the current “first lady” has spent our money. One need only examine how the Obamas have used their daughters as tax shelters by distributing income to them to understand why they don’t want to talk about the Obama family. It’s a great racket they can make work so long as they have all the benefits attached to the presidency.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney needed the flap even more badly than Obama did, because he needed something to swing conservatives over in line behind him as a matter of defending his side of an argument. Frankly, while Rosen’s remarks may well be offensive to some, to others, the ability to stay home to raise children in this day and age does smack of a certain “luxury” (the term Obama used to describe it multiple times) that most women do not enjoy. Some women are bound to say “good for Mrs. Romney,” but there are many more for whom this plays directly into the notion of privilege and an inability to relate that has heretofore characterized Romney himself. Fair? Absolutely not. Will it play a role? Bet on it. The emerging Obama campaign is one in which Romney will be painted as a born-to-wealth son of privilege who never served in the military, and whose five sons likewise never served. The fact that Obama never served is immaterial to the argument they will make, and will largely succeed in advancing about the Romneys as out-of-touch and too wealthy to understand the concerns of ordinary Americans.
The “rally ’round Romney” strategy employed in response to Rosen’s remarks was not entirely unsuccessful, but it was also hardly earth-shaking. The problem is that conservatives are more than a bit put off by the fact that one by one, they have watched the Romney machine destroy their favored candidates, only to now be thrust into the position of defending Ann Romney against the Obama machine. Too many conservatives simply aren’t ready, but I expect there will be a number of such opportunistic appeals to rally ’round Romney in the weeks and months ahead. Romney’s scorched Earth campaign against Gingrich and others prohibits me from feeling any sympathy, and I haven’t given up on Gingrich completely either. Santorum’s withdrawal makes it harder if not impossible to stave off a Romney nomination, but it’s not impossible.
For my part, I have watched this from a place of detachment, caught up in my own personal issues of the moment, and it’s been easy to remain detached: I don’t like Mitt Romney’s negative attacks on Santorum, Gingrich, and the whole host of others inasmuch as they were dishonest attacks, and that’s part of why I don’t see much effective difference between he and Obama except the color of their respective jerseys, one red emblazoned with a big “R”, and the other blue and sporting a capital “D.” If this is the best we conservatives can must in 2012, we will lose either way. Romney isn’t likely to win, but even if he does manage victory, we’ll be confronted with an administration every bit as much composed of virulent statism as the Obama administration. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about that, particularly as a conservative. There’s still hope, slim and slimming as time goes on, but for now, and until further notice, I am on the Newt 2012 train. Given the conduct of his campaign these last six-eight months, I’m not sure I can support the liberal governor from Massachusetts. I think many other conservatives share my reservations, and that’s why some number of Santorum supporters are now shifting to Newt Gingrich.