I've been on the hunt for Mitt Romney defenses that are persuasive. Jonah Goldberg's column today makes a point about Romney that I find at least worth discussing. He says that some conservatives are sold on Romney and some merely think he has a problem articulating conservative principles. A third group just doesn't buy that he's conservative at all. We have all three groups here at Ricochet but it's the last group that Goldberg addresses:
First, let me say: I feel your pain. The Tea Party arose in no small part out of a delayed allergic reaction to the rhetorical and, to a lesser extent, policy problems of George W. Bush’s presidency and the deep resentment that came with having to vote for John McCain in 2008. These disappointments were visited upon the conservative base by something the naysayers (often problematically) call “the Republican establishment.”
After what seems like an eternity under Obama, and with the raised expectations from the Tea Party’s earlier successes, conservatives are extremely reluctant to settle or compromise simply on the say-so of the establishment. For good reasons and bad, Romney seems like a compromise. And no matter how begrudgingly a conservative comes to accept the reality of Romney’s nomination, the diehards immediately proclaim any support for Romney to be proof of membership in the establishment. In fact, it seems like the best definition of a Republican-establishment member these days is simply someone who has made peace with his disappointment prematurely.
I love that last line. Goldberg goes on to say "It is better to have a president who owes you than to have one who claims to own you." A President Gingrich would "wander off into trouble" within 10 minutes:
If elected, Romney must follow through for conservatives and honor his vows to repeal Obamacare, implement Representative Paul Ryan’s agenda, and stay true to his pro-life commitments.
Moreover, Romney is not a man of vision. He is a man of duty and purpose. He was told to “fix” health care in ways Massachusetts would like. He was told to fix the 2002 Olympics. He was told to create Bain Capital. He did it all. The man does his assignments.
So, what do you think about this transactional case for Romney? I can buy it, although I wonder if the pro-choice progressives who elected him in Massachusetts would argue differently about his vows (I guess he stayed true enough to them while in office, only becoming more pro-life and conservative after he left?).