A few weeks ago, President Obama was attacked by prominent Republicans when he told us that America had "gone a little soft." This was a perfect opportunity for Eric Cantor to tell us how patriotic he feels about his cushy leadership position, and we heard the usual encomiums to America and American exceptionalism that are easy to deliver and easier to defend.
Yes, America is exceptional. We wouldn't choose to live here and fight the war of ideas if it weren't the last best hope of mankind and, after all these years, America is still the only country in the world built on a lasting philosophy rather than through the whims of history. But no conservative should hesitate to admit that a country whose youngest adult generation whines about how "jobs are beneath them" and then chooses not to study towards a job that is presumably above them, a country where English majors do not learn to write but learn to bore us with their race-gender-culture theories, a country where college is essentially a four year vacation, a country where religion, unabashed patriotism, and wealth creation are painted negatively by self-appointed elites, a country where Republicans and Democrats alike do not defend our borders, and a country where even innovation is oriented primarily towards social networking and entertainment is fast turning into Europe. America has a long way before it hits a European level of terminal decline. The archetypal American is still pushing himself to work(or to find a job) every day, hoping to raise his family in a sane, stable culture. But we are definitely on the wrong road.
What is hilarious about President Obama's proclamation(don't you love the way he always makes these pronouncements as if they are as-yet-unheard revelations?) is that the ultimate expression of America "growing soft" is his election as president. A country where a sizeable majority mistakes pretentious boilerplate for eloquence, glamorous ambivalence for intellect, and inexperience for authenticity--and where this mistake is most pronounced in the generation of the future(66-31 % for Obama)--has undoubtedly "gone soft." We went gaga for a snake-oil salesman.
I have assumed that every new "front-runner" is good for Romney because he keeps Romney on his toes, fighting-ready, instead of lazy and complacent through the primaries. But why are we playing this endless game with "soft," mediocre, soundbite-driven, flashy candidates? "9-9-9?" Newt Gingrich, disgraced former House Speaker, the leader of an army of fake Twitter followers and self-proclaimed (bad) idea machine? Let us not forget that Gingrich makes waves only through insults("single dumbest idea," "border fence utterly stupid") and publicity stunts masquerading as new ideas. Are we falling for the snake oil salesmen too?
It worries me that some conservatives seem disinterested in Romney not because of Romneycare, but because he is boring and unglamorous. He isn't as catchy, or as entertaining as Gingrich, Cain, Perry, Bachmann...he's sort of the anti-Obama. If we're worried about "going soft" and preferring style over substance in all aspects of life, isn't Romney a great antidote?.