Harry-Reid.jpg

Harry Reid is a National Treasure

In case you didn’t notice, Harry Reid endorsed  his fellow Mormon John Huntsman yesterday for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. The former Governor of Utah – who, in announcing his candidacy for the Presidency, could not find a thing to criticize in Barack Obama – is the very model of what Democrats consider “a responsible Republican.” If you go back to the 1930s, when the New Deal was riding high, the Democrats emphasized the need for a “responsible” opposition. What they had in mind was an opposition that did not oppose the direction in which they were leading the country but that got on board and helped with constructive criticism so that the programs underpinning the administrative entitlements state then emerging could be tweaked where they were incoherent and counter-productive.

For the most part, the Democrats have gotten exactly what they wanted. They could not afford to say so at the time, but Herbert Hoover – who laid the foundations for the New Deal with full support from a Republican Congress – was just the sort of Republican that they had in mind. The Republican nominees in 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948 — Alf Landon, Wendell Wilkie, and Thomas E. Dewey (twice) – were cut from the same cloth as Hoover, and the same can be said of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, George Bush père and George Bush fils. Nixon was the perfect me-too Republican. He was the man – not Lyndon Baines Johnson – who brought us affirmative action, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Huntsman would be a worthy successor to these men, and his nomination would end any possibility that the Republican Party might re-emerge, as it did briefly under Ronald Reagan, as a genuine opposition – “irresponsible,” from the perspective of Progressives, because it is intent on rolling back the administrative entitlements state and not on merely making the machinery hum.

Reid, who is a Mormon, was critical yesterday of the other Mormon in the Republican race. Of Mitt Romney, he said, “I think the frontrunner in the Republican stakes now, here is a man who doesn’t know who he is. . . . We modeled our [healthcare] bill to a large degree about what he did in Massachusetts. Now he is trying to run from that. If someone doesn’t know who they are they shouldn’t be president of the United States.”

The reason that I regard Reid as a natural treasure is that he is apt to say what is on his mind, and what he does say (once you work your way through his syntax) is almost always revealing. I suspect, however, that it isn’t so much that Romney does not know who he is. It is that he is pretending to be someone other than the RINO he really is.

Do you remember the Romney of 2008? He was the man who staked his claim to the Republican nomination on his achievement with regard to health care in Massachusetts. He did not say, then, that a national program modeled on his great achievement would be unconstitutional. That claim – however true it may be – was invented in 2011 for the purpose of allowing him to tout Romneycare as a wonder while repudiating Obamacare. The real difference between Huntsman and Romney is that Huntsman really is the man he pretends to be.

  1. River

    All the alarms are going off everywhere, and our fellow citizens have no excuse for remaining asleep. Yet, asleep they still seem to be. God help us.

  2. The Mugwump

     Romney and Huntsman are a pair of plutocrats who represent the ruling class as per Angelo Codevilla.  Contrast them with Rich Lowry’s description yesterday of Rick Perry:  “Finally we have a Republican from the Republican wing of the Republican Party.”

  3. Kennedy Smith

     Y’know, really.  I don’t think they’re endorsing him to torpedo his shot at the nomination, because he doesn’t have much of one.  They’re accidentally endorsing him because they could maybe live with him.

    If Obama’s down for the count next year, we should unseal a tin of whuparse.  Go for it.  Instead of lightly pooh-poohing him.

    I don’t want anyone Harry Reid can maybe live with.  I want them all to make good on their pledges to flee these our soveriegn shores.  Cause that’s just how we roll.

  4. Standfast

    As a Latter-day Saint, ie Mormon, I am not proud of the three politicians mentioned above who happen to be members of my church.  Romney equivocates his politics, Huntsman his religion, and Reid is just an idiot.  The three above, however, at least prove one point, that Mormons certainly do not march lock step, arm in arm, to the polls.

    As for me, I favor Bachman at this point, but it is a long time until Iowa and New Hampshire.

  5. Franco

    This is only interesting for the theater. There is nothing, nothing at all, that advocates for the GOP to nominate Huntsman. Even the statist wing of the GOP knows he’d be suicide for the race and the party’s survival as a whole. Huntsman is exactly the kind of Republican the conservative base and the tea party types abhor.

    After losing disastrously in 2008 with McCain, who proved once and for all that the MSM’s adoration of him was always conditional, McCain the “maverick”, McCain the civil, respectful, measured politician, when up against a Democrat suddenly lost all his cache with the MSM. Huntsman wants to travel that same path, with the same guides and that we the voters know leads to a pool of quicksand.

    The fact that there already exists a seasoned frontrunner who is a veritable clone, makes this bid even more strange.

    And Huntsman wrapping himself in the Reagan flag is despicable.

  6. Jack Richman

    Relax, Ricochetarians. It’s a free country and if Obama’s erstwhile ambassador to China wants to spend his time and money on a futile bid for the Oval Office, he’s entitled to do so. He won’t win the nomination or a place on the ticket. This dog won’t hunt, man.

  7. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Jack Richman: Relax, Ricochetarians. It’s a free country and if Obama’s erstwhile ambassador to China wants to spend his time and money on a futile bid for the Oval Office, he’s entitled to do so. He won’t win the nomination or a place on the ticket. This dog won’t hunt, man. · Jun 22 at 8:33am

    Not this year, for sure. But it is important to remember that he represents something rather  like what is the default position for the Republican Party.

  8. The King Prawn
    Paul A. Rahe

    Not this year, for sure. But it is important to remember that he represents something rather  like what is the default position for the Republican Party. · Jun 22 at 8:51am

    If Huntsman is representative of the default position of the party then it’s time for a new party. If the foundation is rotten the house will not stand. Conservatism (i.e. classical liberalism) needs a home. If the Republicans nominate Huntsman (or Romney for that matter) then the party truly is about power rather than principle, and it will be time for conservatives to cut ties. And this coming from one who thinks third parties are objectively idiotic for any purpose other than being issue megaphones.

  9. Diane Ellis
    C

    The Huntsman family gave $25,000 to Reid in the last election cycle.  No wonder Reid likes him.

  10. michael kelley
    Paul A. Rahe

    For the most part, the Democrats have gotten exactly what they wanted. 

     

    And as Rational Administration has taken hold, the notion of citizenship has morphed into something akin to the relationship between a doting parent trying to provide for their child’s every need.

    Eventually, it turns into mankind’s oldest friend – Tyranny.

  11. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Diane Ellis, Ed.: The Huntsman family gave $25,000 to Reid in the last election cycle.  No wonder Reid likes him. · Jun 22 at 9:39am

    A generous fellow, John Huntsman. In the last election cycle? For 2010, you mean. Gosh, that means Huntsman is about as much a Republican as Meg Whitman was. She, too, had an interesting past as a political donor.

  12. Not JMR

    I see the picture changed. Did Harry violate the CoC?

  13. KarlUB

    Since I give you such a hard time, Prof. Rahe, can I just say I heartily concur with your entire post?

    Now back to our regular programming.

  14. EJHill
    Paul A. Rahe: Here’s a question: Did Huntsman donate to the Obama campaign in 2008 or endorse the man? 

    Huntsman’s father, Jon Sr., has been a big contributor to the Democrats, including separate donations of $26,700 and $28,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2005 and ’07 respectively and another $30,400 in 2009. Not surprisingly he also gave big to Harry Reid, Charlie Rangel, Evan Bayh, Tom Harkin and others. It seems non-ideological as there are also big contributions to Republicans (including Mitt’s former sister-in-law who ran for the GOP Senate nomination in 1994. She lost.)

    Jr’s ambassadorship seems a token attempt at bi-partisanship.

    And, no, Harry, neither Obama nor Reid fear Jon Huntsman.

  15. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Harry Graver, Intern: Reid, while upholding a terribly misguided worldview, isn’t politically oblivious. Personal connection aside, is it possible that this endorsement is actually an indication that Democrats fear a Huntsman nomination? The timing seems interesting – this can really be a kiss of death in a debate where Huntsman’s weakness is his alleged ties to Obama and the left. 

    Huntsman is not a perfect conservative. Nor is he my pick for the GOP nominee. But I think he’s an unquestionably strong national candidate. The Dems know this. Reid knows this. Perhaps they are trying to nip something in the bud? · Jun 22 at 12:57pm

    What does Huntsman stand for?

  16. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    EJHill

    Paul A. Rahe: Here’s a question: Did Huntsman donate to the Obama campaign in 2008 or endorse the man? 

    Huntsman’s father, Jon Sr., has been a big contributor to the Democrats, including separate donations of $26,700 and $28,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2005 and ’07 respectively and another $30,400 in 2009. Not surprisingly he also gave big to Harry Reid, Charlie Rangel, Evan Bayh, Tom Harkin and others. It seems non-ideological as there are also big contributions to Republicans (including Mitt’s former sister-in-law who ran for the GOP Senate nomination in 1994. She lost.)

    Jr’s ambassadorship seems a token attempt at bi-partisanship.

    And, no, Harry, neither Obama nor Reid fear Jon Huntsman. · Jun 22 at 1:23pm

    Edited on Jun 22 at 01:24 pm

    This is helpful. Many thanks.

  17. Richard Young
    Paul A. Rahe

    … I suspect, however, that it isn’t so much that Romney does not know who he is. It is that he is pretending to be someone other than the RINO he really is.

    Do you remember the Romney of 2008? He was the man who staked his claim to the Republican nomination on his achievement with regard to health care in Massachusetts. He did not say, then, that a national program modeled on his great achievement would be unconstitutional. That claim – however true it may be – was invented in 2011 for the purpose of allowing him to tout Romneycare as a wonder while repudiating Obamacare. The real difference between Huntsman and Romney is that Huntsman really is the man he pretends to be. ·

    Prof. Rahe do you know Romney personally?  How did you gain an insight into him so profound as to be able to say with confidence that he is pretending?  As to the Romney of 2008 I remember he was the man many Republicans touted because of his healthcare experience in Massachusetts.  Now instead of adding to his credibility it is an albatross. Those Republicans changed their tune more than he did.

  18. Harry Graver
    What does Huntsman stand for? · Jun 22 at 1:52pm

    I don’t think a candidate, in the general election, needs a single-issue strength as much as one does to distinguish themselves in a primary. Granted, you’d want a candidate’s perceived expertise to be on the biggest issue (like Romney and the economy). However, there are a lot of other factors that go into electability.

    Huntsman is the only candidate in the field to have both foreign and domestic experience, and has qualities that will easily appeal to the middle. If one is to argue the merits of his conservatism/ what issues he stands for decisively, I think there is a harder case to be made – hopefully one he will make in the upcoming months. But in terms of electability, he seems to possess clear strengths.

  19. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Richard Young

    Prof. Rahe do you know Romney personally?  How did you gain an insight into him so profound as to be able to say with confidence that he is pretending?   Jun 22 at 2:22pm

    No, Richard, I do not know him personally. But I can judge him by his actions, and it is pretty obvious that politically he is a chameleon. When he ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, he denounced Reagan and asserted that every woman has a right to an abortion. When he ran for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2008, he sang a different tune. In 2008, he was going to bring his experience with healthcare in Massachusetts to bear on our national problem. Now he tells us that he is proud of Romneycare but that duplicating it on the national level is unconstitutional. Funny thing, he said no such thing in 2008. As a candidate, Romney will be whatever you want him to be.

  20. Percival

    Hmm…if this were a Cook County election, and the Machine was worried about a primary candidate named “Mitt Romney” that somehow managed to avoid having his filing successfully challenged, the slate would include someone (or several someones) who closely matched his profile in order to split the vote of his constituency.  Oh, and if possible, they would be named “Matt Romney” or “Mitt Rumley” or whatever they can find.

    It is a good thing that the Obama administration is far too ethical to engage in such shabby tactics.