Posts Tagged ‘Nes’

Mitt Romney and the “Conservatism Quotient”

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Why Not Me?

The talking points over the last few days in the media have included the theme carried forward by Governor Palin at CPAC that some of our GOP candidates may not be as conservative as we’d like.  This is undeniably true, and the particular focus of that criticism heretofore has been Mitt Romney.  People in the media seem aghast at the notion that most mainstream conservatives might question his record as a conservative, but their incredulity may simply be another expression of their basic disconnect from the American people in general.  It’s clear that most of the media is comprised of people who don’t understand why Catholics, and indeed Christians generally, would be so upset by the Obama administration’s attacks on First Amendment protections, but they demonstrate a similar lack of understanding of the questions conservatives are asking about Romney’s supposed conservative credentials.

Let us first stipulate that capitalism and conservatism are two different things, and that corporatism is yet another.  The problem for the mostly leftist media is that they mistake these all as interchangeable, despite the fact that they are distinct. Whether this is journalistic slothfulness, or simply reflects their ideology, what it demonstrates is why they are surprised that so many who are center-right look at Romney’s record and question the veracity of his claim to conservatism. As I have written, and as others including Governor Palin have mentioned, what Romney seems to lack is a conservative instinct, or put another way, he demonstrated a statist reflex while Governor of Massachusetts.  Rather than looking for conservative solutions, most of the programs he introduced merely threw tax-payer funds at problems through the creation of new agencies, bureaus, and commissions, or extending the authorities and responsibilities of those already in existence.  When a politician does this, and reliably so, as was the case in his term as governor, actual conservatives notice and frequently rise in opposition.

Conservatives have gotten wise to the Trojan Horse tendency of liberal Republicans who frequently campaign as conservatives during primaries, but also govern as big government liberals.  Of course, many have noted that Gingrich and Santorum seem to share in at least some of this criticism, and to varying degrees, that could be true, except that Romney’s health-care reform program, widely referred to as “Romneycare” outpaces by leaps and bounds the most unconservative acts of the other two in any reasonable comparison.  This is ultimately the reason the Republicans lost Congress in 2006:  Too many looked at the spending programs of the Bush administration and the GOP-led Congress and concluded they could no longer support what was at the time thought to be egregious spending.  George Bush may have claimed to be a “compassionate conservative,” but his “compassion” was destroying conservatism. All of these adjectives stacked in front of “conservatism” now raise suspicions, but this is why I believe Sarah Palin has begun to say “constitutional conservative” because rather than being vague, it specifies that the conservatism under discussion pays respect to our Constitution.

It’s not that actual conservatives don’t have “compassion,” but that they don’t believe government is the proper conduit for it. What Romney’s record reveals is merely another liberal who simply applies state authority to problem-solving.  There is something fundamentally wrong with the notion that government exists to solve all problems, and it is in this venue that Mitt Romney has shown his tendency toward big government.  Romneycare was merely the most brutally statist of his programs, but it was not nearly the only one, with the absolute buffoonery of the program widely known as “Welfare Wheels” serving as another.   More, in terms of regulation, Romney was only too happy to go along with the latest enviro-fad on the question of carbon, and to use the executive power of his state to push through implementation of ideas that are both anti-growth and anti-human.  If liberals in the press have some confusion about this, it’s no surprise, because they will generally favor such programs and regulations.

Romney’s reflex has been to reach for the power of government as a way to confront most issues.  While the media points to his business experience as evidence of his alleged conservatism, what conservatives know instinctively is that business acumen does not translate into conservatism, or even capitalism, but all too often, corporatism.  Conservatives understand that people who are concerned with the welfare of corporations may be capitalists, but all too frequently, they slide across the line and become crony capitalists.  This is why actual conservatives may not really care very much about Romney’s business experiences, but instead focus on how he governed as a more accurate indicator of what a prospective Romney presidency would be.   On this basis, conservatives don’t like what they see, and it’s here that Romney loses them.

The other problem is that consistent conservatives tend not to be flip-flopping, vacillating, “evolving” thinkers in the sense that they’re open to throwing out all principles in favor of some expediency.   Romney has demonstrated this tendency repeatedly, changing his view on abortion, on global warming, and on gun control, along with a whole host of issues that strongly suggest he doesn’t really have core beliefs, but instead mere transient positions that are exchanged like suits, one each for every audience.  Romney doesn’t seem to hold hard and fast to anything, and this troubles conservatives who wonder: “If we elect him on the basis of his alleged conservatism today, will he tomorrow revert to his big government, corporatist tendencies and stick us with the bill for our trouble?” It’s a perfectly valid question, and Romney’s campaign has as much as admitted that he has changed his positions on some things for exactly this sort of response to political expediencies.

To conservatives, this is as much a problem as anything, apart from the concretes of his positions, because what it means to average Republican voters is that Romney will not be pinned down on anything, and that he will therefore be unreliable.  It’s not as though we haven’t seen this before, after all.  In a recent Fox News interview, Romney said of Palin’s remarks “I’m not quite sure what she’d be referring to, ” but I think it’s pretty clear, and I also think Governor Romney knows it: He touts a record as a conservative, but on so many issues, he has been every bit as liberal as Ted Kennedy.   His campaign has effectively conceded he has changed positions to win office, although it was posited in terms of his shifts to the left as temporary shifts.  This worries conservatives, because what it implies is that he may well do the same with respect to us. Once he secures the nomination, will he suddenly morph from “Conservative” to “Moderate” to “Liberal?”

Many conservative Republicans and Tea Party voters remain skeptical, and the reason the media won’t understand it is simple:  Just as they don’t understand why the contraception controversy is an infringement on the free exercise of religion, since they are generally insincere in their faith, neither can they understand why political positions shouldn’t be fungible depending upon the office one seeks.  It’s ultimately the same thing: For them, values, principles and positions should be as flexible as a weather vane.  The problem is that conservatives don’t believe this is so, and they tend to recoil from any who do.

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What Turned South Carolina for Newt?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Newt's Night

It’s clear that Newt Gingrich really man-handled the media, and this by itself is probably the largest factor in his overcoming what had been a significant deficit in the polls just more than a week ago.  Even early this week, Drudge continued to run stories of polls in which Romney led Gingrich by double digits in South Carolina.  There were four things that fundamentally changed this, four events really, and there is no denying that these led to Gingrich’s success in the Palmetto state, where it looks as though Gingrich will have won there with more than 40% of the vote.  That’s a rousing turnaround, with Mitt showing in the high twenties, followed by Santorum, and then Paul farther back in the teens.  Let us examine the four major game-changers that put Gingrich over the top.

The first significant boost for Newt Gingrich was his debate performance on Monday night. His public demolition of Juan Williams’ premise simply made him the runaway winner in that debate.  He was sharp, and at times afire, and it surely seemed he brought passion to explaining why work is important to the very real question of human dignity, as seen through the eyes of conservatives. It was not insignificant that on the evening, Romney seemed trapped, and cold, and distant, and his few warm moments seemed to fade as they went on.  Gingrich, in stark contrast exuded the confidence of his convictions, and this permitted him to start the week out with a big win.

The next event that had significant impact, and the one that may have really turned the ship around most quickly was when on Tuesday evening, in an interview with Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin said she would vote for Newt Gingrich if she was a voter in South Carolina.  This was a signal to many who had hoped Palin would enter that they ought to vote for Gingrich, and from that moment forward, you could see a shift in momentum that ran through the day and on into Wednesday, until the big ABCNews smear of Gingrich broke on Drudge.  It threatened to stop him cold, but a few things happened that caused the story to be insignificant.

The first thing that really prevented Newt from getting too terribly hammered over the ABC story was that voters were suspicious, but they were moved to double suspicion when on Thursday morning, Rick Perry withdrew from the race, and promptly endorsed Newt Gingrich. This stopped the bleeding long enough for the last major event that turned things for Gingrich.

The Thursday night debate merely provided Gingrich an opportunity to respond, but also to deal harshly with the media. His rough treatment of CNN’s John King, followed by statements fro the other candidates more or less in support of Gingrich’s statement, but later capped off by the airing of the Marianne Gingrich interview that provided no new revelations. Combined with the fact that he had clearly won the debate over a rattled Mitt Romney, this set the Newt train rolling at full force again, and it’s clear that it never looked back.

Of all these factors, one in particular stands out in my view, because until Palin made her statement on the matter of for whom she would vote if she was a South Carolina resident, Newt’s debate performance had turned some heads, but hadn’t got the momentum going thoroughly.  It was after Palin made her statement that things started to turn in Newt’s favor, and voters clearly started crossing over to his side.  Skepticism of the media in conservative quarters sustained him through the story until he could punctuate the matter Thursday night, but what got voters going in his direction was the Mama Grizzly, and you’d better believe Gingrich knows it, and in fact gave her credit for it earlier.

Establishment Hack Colin Powell Criticizes Tea Party

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Generally Wrong

Sunday, in an interview by Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week, Colin Powell was led into answering questions by Amanpour, and these were the sort of puff questions that suggest the interviewer knew the interviewee’s answer, and was merely a propaganda attack on the Tea Party.  Powell has always been a DC insider since being a National Security Adviser in the Reagan Administration, and his elevation to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was seen by many as a cynical bit of affirmative action by George H.W. Bush.  In his service as Secretary of State under George W. Bush, Powell repeatedly demonstrated his elitist tendencies but also his commitment to the progressive movement.  His endorsement of Barack Obama in the eleventh hour of the 2008 campaign season was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his relationship with conservatives.  This statement suggests the antipathy runs both ways:

“They compromised — the Founding Fathers compromised on slavery. They had to in order to create a country. They compromised on the composition of the Senate, of the House, of the Supreme Court, of a president — what are the president’s powers? Can you imagine more difficult compromises today?”

“Compromise is how this country was founded, and unless two people in disagreement with each other don’t find a way to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don’t get a consensus that allows you to move forward.”

“But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win.”

This is nonsense.  The founders compromised on the issue of slavery, and we are still dealing with the blow-back.  This nation engaged in its deadliest war because they compromised on that issue.  Abraham Lincoln did not compromise on the issue.  The founders may have compromised in formulating the structures of our government, but they did not compromise in whether we should have our own country, or Colin Powell would never have been Secretary of State, or Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the United States, since it wouldn’t exist.  This is the sort of half-witted, dishonest argument I have come to expect from Powell.  He’s an establishment hack who serves himself, and official Washington DC, but not the nation at large.

The other thing concealed by Powell’s attack on the Tea Party is the question: If the Tea Party is supposed to compromise, with whom is that compromise to be made?  It’s not surprising that Powell doesn’t indicate who that might be.  Compromises are made between entities.  If Tea Party is one entity, who is the other? This is typical Washington-speak, because if Powell was really interested in seeing the Tea Party compromise on an issue, he’d tell you which issues, and with whom.  Instead, he’s simply hurling insults.  Sadly, instead of providing something constructive, Powell simply laments the uncompromising nature of the Tea Party.

With whom has Powell compromised?  He’s not willing to compromise with anybody, having secured his lifestyle as part of the establishment.  He’s not willing to see the DC establishment give any ground to the American people.  I might have been willing to accept his arguments if he’d shown even the first indication of honesty in his arguments, but as is all too clear, Powell simply wanted to smear the Tea Party.  Amanpour was only too happy to give him the opportunity.  If, as Douglas MacAurthur reminds us, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” I think conservative Americans will be just as happy if Powell begins to fade sooner rather than later.  Until he learns to speak honestly on politics, he’s not performing a service for the American people, a thought that prompts me to wonder: Other than vanity, whose interests is he serving?

Romney Isn’t One of Us Either

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Out Amongst the People

It’s not often that you get a chance to see how a politician behaves among ordinary people.  They’re usually surrounded by security, and mobbed by media, so on that rare occasion in which you find yourself relatively alone with one for even a moment, most people will try to exploit the moment and express their own opinions.   In these situations, some politicians bear up better than others, and some are able to disguise the actual contempt or at least ambivalence they feel for we “little people.”  The Romney campaign thought it would be a good idea to have Mitt fly coach just to be among the people.  Unfortunately, once there, he promptly ignored a fellow passenger who wanted to discuss health-care reform with him, reports a New York Times blogger, Emmarie Heutteman.  According to the article, Carolyn McClanahan of Jacksonville, Florida was seated next to Romney.

From the blog posting:

According to Ms. McClanahan, about an hour into the flight — which Mr. Romney mostly spent reading USA Today and using an iPad while wearing headphones — she told him her idea for improving the American health care system: slashing overhead costs by switching to an electronic billing system.

“He looked at me blankly and said, ‘I understand,’ then put his iPad headphones in and kept reading,” she said.

While Ms. McClanahan said Mr. Romney was probably exhausted, she was disappointed he showed so little interest. Even another passenger’s request for a restaurant recommendation in Boston elicited little from Mr. Romney, she said. “I can’t give you any,” he said, according to Ms. McClanahan. “You’ll have to ask someone else.”

This is demonstrative of the arrogance that pervades the permanent political class.  I recognize that Romney just wanted to catch his flight, but if you sit in coach in an attempt to appear to be “just one of us,” then you should expect that people will attempt to make some conversation, particularly if you’re a presidential candidate.  Mitt is just another of those politicians who want your vote, but not your opinions.  I have no idea whether Ms. McClanahan had any good ideas or not, but after all, you never know.  I’m not surprised by this, although this sort of confirmation is troubling.

Undoubtedly, this may be Mitt’s last appearance in coach, because now his campaign is catching grief.  The Times article concludes:

Ms. McClanahan said that if Mr. Romney wants to improve his image with voters, he’s going to have to do more than just fly coach.

“I think that one of the problems right now is that politicians aren’t in touch,” she said. “They’re trying to act like they’re in touch. You need to be a little more sincere about it.”

Indeed. That’s one of the problems with Mitt.  In fact, it always has been: He’s roughly as genuine as a stuffed ape holding a plastic banana.  He’s got no credibility with average Americans because he simply isn’t one of us.  He never has been, and he clearly seems out of his element when among us.  It’s only a matter of time before they put him in flannel at a skeet-shooting range, or at a NASCAR race to show us how he’s one of us.  McClanahan’s instincts are right about Romney.  He’s out of touch. He’s out of style, and if  conservatives and Tea Party folk have anything to say about it, he’ll be out of the running.  Sadly, that’s going to be more difficult than some now think.