Thursday, February 23, 2012

Blowing Smoke, Mittens Style

Conservatives have been rallying behind one NotRomney after another, even behind some candidates who aren't particularly conservative themselves, in order to stand in Mitt Romney's way. Interesting and, I think, insightful article by David Steinberg at PJMedia on why this is, and why Mitt has not already wrapped up the Republican nomination.

Steinberg writes:
"The viable candidates are not fiscally conservative enough for our preference, but all importantly, the candidates are not fiscally conservative enough to halt decline [my boldface]. Recent elections held the promise of a GOP win being a satisfactory result, 2012 does not, considering a fall-of-Rome national debt and the structure of unfunded, impossible-to-fund “safety net” liabilities."
When President Obama took office, the national debt hovered at about $9 trillion; today it soared to about $15 trillion, with no endgame in sight, but with huge new entitlements on the horizon. Our national net worth is estimated at roughly $50 to $60 trillion -- that's everything in these United States, every house, every store, every car, every pair of shoes. The United States of America faces an existential crisis at this point in its history. We are well on our way toward spending ourselves into oblivion.

Now, either you believe what I just wrote, or you don't. If you don't, let them clear off a seat for you in the Democratic Party. There was a time not very long ago when, arguably, we could afford wishy-washy RINOs eager to get good press and anxious to negotiate conservative positions away. The Bible has a phrase to describe such flexibly-principled allies -- "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm -— neither hot nor cold —- I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:15-16) The country simply cannot afford any more Republican dithering and blundering on this issue.  We don't need two liberal parties; one is more than enough.

But Mitt says he plans to get all this under control. Ann Coulter, going to bat for him, scolds conservatives for their doubts. She tries gamely to build a case that Romney is "most conservative candidate we've run for president since Reagan". And what's her exhibit A? Can you believe... RomneyCare?!
"Romney pushed the conservative alternative to national health care that, had it been adopted in the 49 other states, would have killed ObamaCare in the crib by solving the health insurance problem at the state level."
So what's Ann saying here?  That the way to fight federal socialism is to institute widespread state-level socialism?  That the federal government's lust for money and power would have been sated, or thwarted, once and for all had the states decided to pursue that lust first?  How likely does that sound?

Does Ann think that lots of little tyrannies are better than one big tyranny?  Or that little tyrannies prevent big ones from muscling in?  I'd hate to have to count on either notion.

Romney argues that RomneyCare was a conservative solution because it was done at the state level.  Well, there may be less question of its constitutionality at the state level, depending on which state we're talking about.  Does that make it good policy?  Does that make it conservative policy?  I must be old -- I remember when conservatism was about economic freedom.  Forcing someone to participate in a state-run medical insurance scheme doesn't sound much like economic freedom.  More specifically, it doesn't sound much like Reagan.  It sounds like conservatism only to someone who doesn't understand conservatism.

I have grown to expect Republican presidential candidates to blither like idiots, but it is monumentally unsatisfying to watch Ann Coulter play dumb.

Ezra Klein is a liberal who writes for the Washington Post.  But liberal or not, he gets what it is that makes Romney unpalatable to conservatives:
"...left-leaning constituencies... in Massachusetts [were] asked about the pitch Romney made when he was running for governor. According to individuals who were in those meetings, Romney didn’t just say that he supported choice and environmental protection. He said that supporting him was a strategic decision for those groups.

“'You need someone like me in Washington,' [Romney] reportedly told the advocates. The GOP had swung too far right, and he would be 'a good voice in the party' for left-leaning groups. His support for their agenda would mean more than the support of another Democrat. His would be 'widely written about.'"
So Romney told the leftists in Massachusetts they could count on him, and today he tells the conservatives in America they can count on him.  Surely he is not the first politician to play both sides.  I don't necessarily expect to vote for a candidate who has never told a lie.  But it would be nice to know which side was being lied to
Now, it so happens that I know how Mitt could sew the nomination all up.  Tomorrow, if he wanted.  He can do this, but it means giving up on his ludicrous defense of RomneyCare.
All he has to do is schedule a press conference and say something very much like this:
"Look guys, I made a huge mistake with RomneyCare.  It's a mistake we cannot afford at the federal level, and not one I ever intend to repeat, or allow to be repeated on my watch. And if I accomplish nothing else in my tenure as president but the repeal of this awful ObamaCare law and taking this important step toward balancing the budget, I will count my term as successful."
Short. Sweet. Simple. It would show he's not living on another planet. It would show he understands how unpopular ObamaCare is and how he can harness that dislike for the GOP's advantage. It would show he understands the grapes of conservative wrath.

That statement, right there, would win him the Republican nomination. And probably the general election.

So why doesn't he say it?

Because he doesn't believe it? Or believe in it? Then he is not the man we need in the White House.

Because he's too proud to admit a mistake? Well, tough.  Sometimes pain is necessary. Making that statement would show at the very least that he feels conservatives' pain and wants their votes and is prepared to deliver something in return for them.

But all this juking and jiving about socialism being conservative as long as it's at the state level is smoke, and he's blowing it right up the great conservative keister.