There is nothing about this election and the frustration on the Right that would not be solved if Ronald Reagan were here to run again, or if Marco Rubio were only about four years further into his Washington career. There is no Establishment RINO conspiracy led by Mike Murphy to deny the rightful nomination to a True Conservative. There is, rather, the usual selection of flawed human beings and imperfect politicians. Bill Clinton wasn’t any Democrat’s first choice in 1992 either.
I discount Ben Domenech’s weekly post on the state of the race - he has been on record since participating in the Young Guns podcast as 1) never having been wrong in a Republican nomination prediction, and 2) betting this time on “the field” over Romney. If I were in his position, after seeing the three most purportedly appealing “field” alternatives crash and burn under the jeweler’s loupe that is 21st century presidential politics, I’d be trying to push my thumb down harder on the scales as well. The problem is that the readers of Red State are not going to select the next president.
I am not a Romney enthusiast. I recognize the wooden delivery, the politically awkward statements that are perfectly sensible when uttered in a staff meeting devoted to setting a turnaround strategy for a failing business venture, the problem (!) of being successful in a world where The Vacuous Garment has fastened on envy as his basic electoral strategy.
But I also recognize, as do, for example, smart, principled conservatives such as John Hinderaker, Ann Coulter, and Chris Christie, that we have to choose from among the actually available alternatives, not our dreams or wishes. Claire is right- There is No Alternative.
It is also true that points most often cited against Romney - the Massachusetts health care program, and the birth control payment controversy - were actually examples of excellent performance in an impossible situation. “RomneyCare” was the best available alternative to the single payer program that was inevitable had Governor Romney not been able to use persuasion and coalition-building to block it with the most free-market program possible under the circumstances, designed by the most free-market recognized conservative health care experts - Prof. Mark Pauly of Penn and AEI and Edmund Haislmaier of Heritage, all fighting against a legislature 85% controlled by the Democrats who were advised by ObamaCare’s designer Jonathan Gruber of MIT.
And contrary to Newt’s bald-faced lie volunteered to Peter Robinson in his Uncommon Knowledge special interview, the leading Catholic intellectuals lauded Governor Romney for the heroic steps he took, even beyond his veto (which was overridden) trying to defend the conscience exceptions regarding abortion, birth control, and abortifacient drugs. Prof. Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law and former US Ambassador to the Holy See says: “At this moment when religious liberty is under attack from many quarters, people of all faiths won’t find a more ardent or effective advocate than Mitt Romney.”
A good executive combines knowledge, judgement, and leadership. By every account, Romney has been an outstanding executive in every endeavor he has taken up. He has doggedly sought out the best and most complete facts available, taken balanced risks, and shown that he understands when to be firm and when to be flexible. He has led both by example and by cheerleading, as when he went to the imminent Staples store opening bearing pizzas and pep talks for the floor employees.
So, what’s the problem? It is the way that the Presidency has evolved and what it has become. To conquer the tasks, you need to be an extrovert with a thick hide. Mr. Romney is absolutely not an extrovert, nor is his hide thick enough or his antenna well enough developed at this point.
When a “normal” person seeks a “normal” job, it involves a two-stage process: 1) Sell yourself to the employer, and then, after being hired, 2) Do the Job.
When seeking the Presidency of the United States, there is an endless campaign, inauguration….. and then another endless campaign broken up with other more traditional executive work. If you do not like or excel at the campaign process, governing will be a problem because a large part of the national governing process is the constant, endless, never-ending sales job. Fred Thompson discovered this in 2008 - realizing that he didn’t even want to dig in for the first campaign.
And as our current president has learned (has he?) the sales job is not about simply making a speech. He has done that endlessly, and no sale. It is about constant interplay, endless back-and-forth, non-stop marketing. The decisions are easy, getting them implemented is extremely difficult. Every word is questioned, every red herring is invoked. If you don’t relish the campaign process as a natural salesperson, you will suffer on the job.
It is obvious that the only real alternative is “Oh, all right, Romney, then” (H/T, Mr. Robinson)- because the other candidates are impossible.
But someone needs to go persuade Mitt that he needs to a) act as though he likes this process, and b) learn to actually like it more, even when Bret Baier asks about immigration, OWS whines about the rich, or Jay Carney talks about taxing the rich.