The Chameleon

 

In a piece that he published this past Monday in The Washington Examiner, Michael Barone (who went to high school with Mitt Romney) related a conversation which he had with an individual who had worked at Bain Capital alongside the Presidential contender. When Barone asked what Romney was really like, his interlocutor responded, “”Which four or five of the Romneys do you mean?” Romney, as Barone explains, had a knack for adapting “his approach and manner to each company’s particular culture.”

In the business world, this makes sense. To be successful when you shift from one corporate environment to another, as turn-around artists frequently do, you need to be a chameleon of sorts. You cannot afford to have a steadfast manner, much less firm principles. Your task is management, and you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

The same skills can be useful in politics. When Bill Clinton and Al Gore were running for office in Arkansas and Tennessee, they were anti-abortion. When they sought to position themselves as possible candidates for the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, their thinking ”evolved.” The more successful of the two was the one with the fewest compunctions about jettisoning one set of principles and allies for another when opportunity knocked.

Mitt Romney resembles Clinton and Gore in this particular. When he ran for the Senate in 1994, as this video makes crystal clear, he presented himself to the electorate in Massachusetts as an out-and-out liberal – a supporter of abortion rights, gay rights, and affirmative action eager to distance himself as far as possible from Ronald Reagan and George W. H. Bush. In August, 1994, he told an interviewer from the gay newspaper Bay Windows:

There’s something to be said for having a Republican who supports civil rights in this broader context, including sexual orientation. When Ted Kennedy speaks on gay rights, he’s seen as an extremist. When Mitt Romney speaks on gay rights he’s seen as a centrist and a moderate.

It’s a little like if Eugene McCarthy was arguing in favor of recognizing China, people would have called him a nut. But when Richard Nixon does it, it becomes reasonable. When Ted says it, it’s extreme; when I say it, it’s mainstream.

Romney left everyone with the impression at the time that he favored same-sex unions indistinguishable from marriages but wanted to reserve the m-word for unions between women and men.

When critics point to the posture he adopted in the 1994 Senate race, Romney responds that he changed his position on the crucial issues and argues that he should not be held responsible today for mistakes that he made seventeen years ago. When, in this video, staged in 2007 with an eye to the 2008 Presidential race, Romney directs our attention to his putatively conservative record as Governor in Massachusetts, he glosses over his gubernatorial campaign in 2002 and his first two and a half years in office in an attempt to leave its viewers with the impression that he had long ago abandoned the positions he espoused in 1994. In fact, however, as The Washington Post recently reported, when running for the Governorship in 2002, he presented himself to the advocates of abortion precisely as he had in 1994. He was, he intimated, the Republican who, if he made it to the national stage, would turn the Republican Party around on the issue. “You need someone like me in Washington,” he told them. To the gay activists and the environmental lobby, he made similar assurances – and for most of his term in office he was as good as his word, defending abortion as a woman’s right, pushing cap-and-trade, and, in 2004, developing the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan.

Mitt_Romney2.jpgIt was not until the late spring of 2005 – when it became clear that he had little chance of being re-elected as Governor and he started planning a Presidential run, instead – that Romney began changing his posture, and then according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, he did so on a host of issues, lining up with the National Rifle Association, which he had hitherto kept at arm’s length; announcing that he was pro-life; and backing off from his commitment to the radical environmental agenda.embodied in the Massachusetts Climate Protection Plan he had for the most part authored himself. It is possible that Mitt Romney had a real change of heart at this time, but, given what we know of his flexibility at Bain Capital, the comment offered The Wall Street Journal by Rob Garrity, a Republican environmentalist and Romney supporter who served in his gubernatorial administration, seems more plausible: “You have to understand, Mitt Romney is very pragmatic, and I think what happened was the issue became, ‘How do I win the presidency of United States?'” For an aspiring prince, Machiavelli tells us in Il principe, flexibility is the supreme political virtue.

There are, of course, stands that Romney espoused as Governor that he still holds to. Like Michael Bloomberg, another businessman who ran for executive office in a Democratic stronghold on the Republican line, Romney is a budget-balancer. He worked hard at that in Massachusetts. He promises to do so again if elected President of the United States – and on this promise, I believe, we can rely. If he were elected, Bloomberg would do the same. Neither of these men is a utopian progressive on the model of Barack Obama. Neither is inclined to suppose that radical will is sufficient. They are managerial progressives. They pride themselves on their competence, and they despise fiscal irresponsibility – for they recognize that expenditures cannot indefinitely be sustained without sufficient revenues.

Apart from fiscal responsibility, there is only one other policy of any real salience that Romney embraced in his early years as Governor and that he still supports, and that is Romneycare. Managerial progressives have little truck with first principles. George W. H. Bush was speaking contemptuously when he referred to “the vision thing.” In this particular, they tend to be tone-deaf. The elder Bush had no notion of the damage that he was doing to himself when he agreed to a tax hike, and Romney simply cannot understand the visceral dislike that conservatives have for the individual mandate.                                                         RomneycareSigned.jpg

There is a problem, he was told. There are people who do not have health insurance, and some of those with pre-existing conditions cannot find affordable insurance. Moreover, those who work for themselves and are not part of the large pools of employees who work at large firms have to pay exorbitant rates. He knew of two proposals for solving the problem. One proposal called, in effect, for the extension of Medicare and Medicaid to the whole populace; the other, developed by the Heritage Foundation, operated on the premise that those already insured be left with their current arrangement and that everyone else be forced to join a pool sponsored by the government and buy insurance through that pool. Progressives are utilitarians. They have little use for or understanding of individual rights – and so Romney could not conceive why anyone would object to everyone being forced by the government of Massachusetts to buy health insurance. It never crossed his mind that there is something tyrannical in the government’s interference in the minutiae of our lives. Without the individual mandate, he recognized, without forcing all of the uninsured into a pool so that those without pre-existing conditions could pay for the healthcare of those with pre-existing conditions, the problem that, he had been told, was pressing could not be solved. When utilitarians have to choose between solving putative problems and respecting the rights of individuals to run their own lives, they always choose to solve the putative problems. Because progressivism is a hammer, we are thought of us nails.

In the spring of 2006, when he signed the bill providing for Romneycare, Romney expected that it would be his signature achievement and that his accomplishment in this particular would be his selling point in 2007 and 2008 when he sought the Republican nomination, and in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal he touted it as a model for other states. By February, 2007, he was holding Romneycare up as “a model for the nation,” and in the hardback version of his campaign book No Apology, which came out in March, 2010, Romney wrote, “From now on, no one in Massachusetts has to worry about losing his or her health insurance if there is a job change or a loss in income; everyone is insured and pays only what he or she can afford….We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country….” In the paperback version, which was released in February, 2011, that last sentence was dropped. If Romney was all along opposed to the establishment of a national health insurance system on the model of Romneycare, as he now claims, he was remarkably inept in his choice of language.

In a sense, however, all of this is a red herring. For, as he made clear back in October during the Las Vegas debates and again this week in his interview with Bret Baier, Romney sees absolutely nothing wrong with the individual mandate and he is inordinately proud of Romneycare. This ought to give all conservatives pause – for it says a great deal about his attitude regarding individual rights and his willingness to use the power of the government to run our lives. He may or may not be sincere when he now argues that the individual mandate introduced by the federal government is unconstitutional, but this does not matter a great deal. In other spheres, where the federal government has wide discretion, he will not be restrained by any political principles from using it to run our lives if he thinks that there is a problem in need of a solution.

What this means in practice is that Romney is no more a conservative than Michael Bloomberg is. He has virtues. He is managerial and not a utopian progressive.  If elected, he will for a time be mindful of the commitments he has made. He will fight for the repeal of Obamacare, for, If he does not do so, he will be toast, and he knows it. He will also work hard to put our fiscal house in order, for he really does believe in managerial competence, but I would not rule out tax increases. After all, he agrees with Barack Obama that those who take in more than $200,000 a year should pay more than they do now. If there are any openings on the Supreme Court in his first couple of years in office, Romney will probably nominate conservatives. But, after the midterm elections in 2014, all bets are off. Managerial progressives see elections as problems to be solved. They re-tailor their positions to the tastes of the electorate they expect to face (at least, as they understand that electorate).

Even more to the point, Romney is not going to make the conservative argument – and that matters enormously. When Lincoln said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed,” he spoke the truth. In my lifetime, there has never been a moment when the American public was more open to the conservative argument than it is now. Barack Obama, his “stimulus” bill, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank have given liberalism a very bad name. This could be the turning of the tide. It could be the moment in which we begin to pare away at the administrative entitlements state. But that can only happen if we win the argument over its legitimacy. And if we do not make that argument, we certainly cannot win it. Nothing that Romney has said in any of his speeches to date or in any of the debates suggests that he believes that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the administrative entitlements state. It needs a bit of tweaking here and there. Expenditures and revenues must be brought into balance. But it is in principle sound. That is what he believes. That is the position he will espouse.

I cannot see how any conservative can support Mitt Romney. I can see how conservatives might vote for him – certainly, if he is the only alternative to Barack Obama, and also if there is no other plausible Republican candidate, as Ramesh Ponnuru argues on National Review Online. But if we do vote for him, we should not lie to ourselves about what we are doing, and we should keep the heat on him if he is elected.

I should perhaps add that I do not regard Mitt Romney as a shoo-in. He is not an especially accomplished politician. He is a man who won one election. When he ran for Senate, he lost. When he considered running for re-election as Governor, he chose not to do so because he knew that he would lose. When he ran for the Republican nomination in 2008, he lost. If you watch his debate with Ted Kennedy and his interview with Bret Baier and consider the manner in which he misrepresented Romneycare in the Las Vegas debates, you can see why he lost. His responses, when he is not mouthing boilerplate that he has memorized, seem contrived. He is evasive and sometimes petulant. One can see him calculating with regard to what would best play with the general public, and what he says and does is often inept. He often looks like what he is: a man with no political principles who is pandering, and he is actually pretty bad at pandering. He is not quick in discerning which way the wind is blowing. He spent the last four years preparing for the 2011/12 campaign, and he blundered and blundered badly in the manner in which he positioned himself for the race. It is perfectly possible that Barack Obama will make mincemeat of him in a televised debate. Ted Kennedy did.

There are 75 comments.

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  1. Raw Prawn Member

    Mothership_Greg: We have a comment joking about John McCain’s death, and a comment dismissing Michael Barone because he hasn’t made enough money? Am I on the right website? · Dec 2 at 9:33pm

    Don’t be too prissy. Conservative Episcopalian (in my part of the world that name would be an oxymoron) was not advocating anyone do any harm to McCain but I’m sure more than a few people thought about William Henry Harrison (age, war hero, etc.) during that fleeting moment in 2008 when the election looked interesting. As for ETD, I haven’t a clue what he was on about.

    C.E. offered the only reason that makes any kind of sense to me for preferring one of the current leading contenders over the other. Paraphrased: Gingrich is more likely to prevail in a knife fight. Wonderful.

    • #1
    • December 3, 2011, at 1:56 AM PDT
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  2. HVTs Inactive
    Scott Reusser: Newt’s the “managerial progressive”, more so than Romney.
    I just don’t get the “more so than Romney” part. Prof. Rahe’s exposition makes it hard to conclude anyone could be “more so” than Mitt. BTW, it’s hardly a crime to be damn good at managing problems. Mitt didn’t make those $million$ because of a character flaw.

    Newt is a quixotic but compelling figure—born for high drama it would seem. His deportment inspires the righteous American revolutionary that I like to think lurks within me—ready to defend high principles whose very mention make my heart beat faster.

    Romney is the closer. He’ll get you in that new car today because he understands how to shave the angles to get to the deal. Unlike Newt, he’s not compelling even though he’s admirable in many ways.

    At this point, “compelling” rocks my world more than “admirable.” But the only real question is who will beat Obama. Feisty Newt seems the choice on that score too. What neither seems particularly likely to do is set a sterling example of Conservative rectitude. That just may be a bridge too far in this electoral cycle.

    • #2
    • December 3, 2011, at 5:19 AM PDT
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  3. Scott R Member
    HVTs
    Scott Reusser: Newt’s the “managerial progressive”, more so than Romney.

    I just don’t get the “more so than Romney” part.

    HVT, you’ve changed my meaning by leaving out “”With respect to the signature economic issue of the day [the housing boom and bust]…”

    In the last debate Romney explained how the GSE’s distorted the market and unwisely encouraged loans to those who couldn’t afford them; he made the case for the gov’t now standing back and letting the housing market bottom out. This is an argument that must be made to Americans in the 2012 campaign and debates if they are to understand what happened. They need to know that liberalism failed — not conservatism, which is what they currently suspect.

    Newt, conversely, would head into the debates with Obama having zero credibility on the housing issue and, in fact, would be looking to avoid the matter altogether for fear of looking like just another member of the “getting in on the action” governing class that caused the mess — which, sadly, he was.

    • #3
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:00 AM PDT
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  4. HVTs Inactive
    Scott Reusser

    HVT, you’ve changed my meaning by leaving out “”With respect to the signature economic issue of the day [the housing boom and bust]…”

    Thanks for the clarification … please accept that it was an unintentional change to your original meaning … too hasty a reading on my part I suppose … great response and great points.

    • #4
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:29 AM PDT
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  5. Mothership_Greg Inactive
    Raw Prawn

    Mothership_Greg: We have a comment joking about John McCain’s death, and a comment dismissing Michael Barone because he hasn’t made enough money? Am I on the right website? · Dec 2 at 9:33pm

    Don’t be too prissy. Conservative Episcopalian (in my part of the world that name would be an oxymoron) was not advocating anyone do any harm to McCain but I’m sure more than a few people thought about William Henry Harrison (age, war hero, etc.) during that fleeting moment in 2008 when the election looked interesting. As for ETD, I haven’t a clue what he was on about.

    I have to deal with someone on a daily basis who tells “jokes” about putting arsenic in cigarettes to kill smokers (because they, along with the obese, and evil people who insist on receiving “too much” end-of-life care, are bankrupting America – seriously, this is the way some people think). I would also note that I did not suggest that Conservative Episcopalian (an apt description of my father, incidentally) had encouraged anyone to harm Senator McCain. Word choice matters.

    • #5
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:38 AM PDT
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  6. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Since Mitt Romney has been running for president for, what, more than a decade?, and for office for nearly 2 decades, does it grate on anyone else’s ears every time he says that he is not a career politician? I mean, it is not for lack of trying to be one…

    • #6
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:41 AM PDT
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  7. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    The King Prawn: Dr. Rahe, will you be providing your critique of Gingrich in the near future? · Dec 2 at 7:59pm

    That is my plan. The problem is time. This is the moment when academics are buried in papers that need grading and exams will follow shortly.

    • #7
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:45 AM PDT
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  8. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    Conservative Episcopalian:

    Isn’t this essentially what Congressman Paul Ryan believes about the federal budget? He doesn’t really talk about fundamental change or jettisoning things, he talks about limiting entitlement growth and growing the economy to bring the deficit down. Isn’t what Romney is accused of believing the same as what Ryan says he wants to do?

    Why is Ryan asked to run for president because he owes it to the country but Romney is called a managerial progressive who doesn’t believe in anything when they both espouse the same sorts of solutions?

    Am I wrong about what Ryan has proposed? · Dec 2 at 8:11pm

    Here is the difference. Ryan makes arguments suggesting that cleaning up the mess made by Obama is only a first step. Romney has a history, in Massachusetts, of massively increasing the scope of the administrative state, and he is proud of it.

    • #8
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:48 AM PDT
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  9. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    FeliciaB
    Conservative Episcopalian: Isn’t this essentially what Congressman Paul Ryan believes about the federal budget? He doesn’t really talk about fundamental change or jettisoning things, he talks about limiting entitlement growth and growing the economy to bring the deficit down. Isn’t what Romney is accused of believing the same as what Ryan says he wants to do?
    When you scratch the surface, Ryan has a fundamental grasp of conservatism and the brilliance of following the constitution. He communicates it very well. Romney, on the other hand has not communicated such. What he has communicated through his past political actions and statements is out of phase with conservatism. · Dec 2 at 8:26pm

    Oops, you beat me to it. Sorry. I should have read all of the comments before responding.

    • #9
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:50 AM PDT
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  10. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    Aaron Miller

    Paul A. Rahe

    …Romney is a budget-balancer. He worked hard at that in Massachusetts. He promises to do so again if elected President of the United States – and on this promise, I believe, we can rely. If he were elected,

    Just because he would like to balance the national budget doesn’t mean he has the wisdom to see through Democrats’ budgetary frauds, nor the guts to cut entitlements or wasteful government programs. Even setting aside principles like free will, is the entitelement program he introduced in Massachusetts sustainable?

    As the saying goes, a person who stands for nothing will fall for anything. Romney would be easily manipulated by Democrats. Government expansion would continue. · Dec 2 at 8:28pm

    He did pretty well in Massachusetts on budgetary questions, ad there he faced a legislature with overwhelming Democratic majorities. Let’s give him credit where credit is due.

    • #10
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:52 AM PDT
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  11. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    ETD: Michael Barone is an accomplished journalist, but he has made no serious money and I am not, at this point in America’s economic history, the least bit interested in his opinion.

    Paul A. Rahe

    In a piece that he published this past Monday in The Washington Examiner, Michael Barone (who went to high school with Mitt Romney) related a conversation which he had with an individual who had worked at Bain Capital alongside the Presidential contender. When Barone asked what Romney was really like, his interlocutor responded, “”Which four or five of the Romneys do you mean?” Romney, as Barone explains, had a knack for adapting “his approach and manner to each company’s particular culture.”

    Dec 2 at 8:37pm

    This is not his opinion. This is information that he dug up.

    • #11
    • December 3, 2011, at 7:53 AM PDT
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  12. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    Mama Toad: Since Mitt Romney has been running for president for, what, more than a decade?, and for office for nearly 2 decades, does it grate on anyone else’s ears every time he says that he is not a career politician? I mean, it is not for lack of trying to be one… · Dec 3 at 6:41am

    Yes, there is something phony about his whole spiel.

    • #12
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:03 AM PDT
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  13. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    QuickerBrownFox: So if you’re a Republican thinking about running for the top executive post in a heavy blue state, prepare to flush your hopes of a presidency goodbye. You wanna try your hand prodding a state that overwhelming votes against your party to a more favorable end, coaxing them to a better solution? Be our guest, but we like our candidates from deep red states, who can sit back, vote the party line, and drop a little moralizing legislation around election time.

    Oh, and we like realists too. And unicorns. · Dec 2 at 8:10pm

    No, if you are such a Republican, you should make the conservative argument. In one-party states, such as Massachusetts, eventually the corruption and cronyism get so bad that the other side gets a shot. Look at Wisconsin.

    Romney should have fought tooth and nail against socialized medicine and made the argument against it. If he lost, when things went wrong (and they will), our side would have a chance. The managerial progressives have done this country untold harm.

    • #13
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:07 AM PDT
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  14. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    BThompson: I might not find it so nauseating if the keen eyes and motive analyzing, statement parsing, past acquaintance inspecting, super-sleuthing and micro-scrutinization were dealt out with equal curiosity and passion for the truth amongst all the candidates. But for some reason Misters Rahe and Robinson reserve a special standard of vetting they want to apply to Romney while holding their cards to their vest and their powder relatively dry in the case of whomever they actually plan to get behind. Dec 2 at 8:44pm

    Edited on Dec 02 at 08:48 pm

    When one criticizes Romney, his fiercest partisans have a propensity for saying, “Sit down and shut up” — presumably because they have no argument to make on his behalf. And they persistently charge that a double standard is being applied.

    BThompson, you might want to go back and re-read what I have said about Rick Perry, Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, and Rick Santorum. I have been far more dismissive of them than of Romney. If I have not written about them at great length, it is because that would be a waste of time and space. They are not contenders.

    • #14
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:21 AM PDT
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  15. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    BThompson: Wheeeeee! The Peter Robinson, Paul Rahe “I think Mitt Romney is an honorable, decent man but I will take every chance to constantly trash his candidacy” ride just keeps spinning. Look, I support your right to dislike Romney and try to hamstring his candidacy. But if you don’t have the spine to actually come out and support someone in a positive fashion for the job, and make the case for why the person you back for the nomination actually deserves it, I have no idea what the ultimate value of the steady barrage against our most electable candidate is. · Dec 2 at 8:44pm

    Edited on Dec 02 at 08:48 pm

    Your choice of language is inappropriate. Peter Robinson and I may lack wisdom, but we do not lack spine. Where you and I differ is that I do not think it appropriate to pick a candidate and blindly, fiercely support him against all criticism. My task is to assess — in as impartial a manner as I can — the various candidates in light of what I take to be the nature of the crisis we face. I have done this with Daniels, Ryan, Bachman, Cain, etc.

    • #15
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:30 AM PDT
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  16. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author
    BThompson: The hour is late and there has been plenty of time to size up the choices, gentlemen. Why can’t you make a choice? surely, you can’t get behind Romney after all the effort you’ve put into pointing out how unacceptable he is. · Dec 2 at 8:44pm

    Edited on Dec 02 at 08:48 pm

    Why is it that Romney’s supporters so often try to silence his critics? The hour is not late. No caucuses have been held; no primaries have taken place. Next to no one has dropped out — and you, BThompson, want to shut down the process of deliberation right here and now.

    I have made it clear — in this post and in others — that, if Romney is the nominee, I will vote for him and urge others to do the same. And, in these posts, I have spelled out the reasons why I will do so. Given this, how can you assert that I cannot “get behind” Romney after expressing my misgivings? Perhaps, by the words get behind, you mean become a fierce partisan. If so, then my response is that I try never to subordinate my judgment to my preferences.

    • #16
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:40 AM PDT
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  17. Stuart Creque Member

    Woody Allen captured this phenomenon in “Zelig.”

    • #17
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:41 AM PDT
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  18. Audacious Member

    Paul has it exactly right. I’ve thought for a long time that we could see Mitt doing the GHWB tax deal. I’ve never felt that what we need is a “manager” who knows how to create jobs. As I’ve posted a few times in other venues lately, it’s reminiscent of another well educated, very successful business executive who managed a major international non-profit effort and served in government: Herbert Hoover

    • #18
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:43 AM PDT
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  19. Anon Inactive

    To get people to follow you, to avoid contention, to work together to problem solve, in business, the military, or with family, you have to mentally integrate into the social context of the issue on the table. Anyone who can do that, and get those involved to follow his leadership and move the issue toward a successful outcome will be a successful business man, military officer, or parent.

    In my opinion, his adaptability in the sense mentioned here is a leadership virtue. Every problem is new. The solution to every issue depends on context. It is empirically true that Mitt is an exceptional leader.

    Nevertheless, I think Obama will decimate him is a debate. For the average voter, with little interest in delving into the matter, it’s invariably style over substance.

    Mitt has substance, Obama has style.

    Gingrich, warts and all, has plenty of both.

    • #19
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:50 AM PDT
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  20. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe Post author

    There is one candidate I have neglected, and that is Newt Gingrich. This is due in part to the fact that I was not inclined to take his candidacy seriously. That was, after all, the conclusion reached by his campaign staff. They gave up on him and resigned.

    My other reason for holding off was that Gingrich did not figure in any serious way in the polls. All of this has changed, and I hope to write at some length about him in the near future.

    In the meantime, let me suggest that Romney’s partisans cease trying to silence his critics. This is a site for civil discussion. Personal charges — that those who disagree with one’s position lack spine, for example — do nothing to advance our knowledge or our understanding. And a statement that one finds the careful examination of a candidate’s record nauseating is apt to reveal more about the one making the statement than about the issue under consideration.

    • #20
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:55 AM PDT
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  21. James Delingpole Contributor

    Romney is a Replicant.

    • #21
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:56 AM PDT
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  22. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    Dr. Rahe, will you be providing your critique of Gingrich in the near future?

    • #22
    • December 3, 2011, at 8:59 AM PDT
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  23. Skarv Coolidge

    About the lateness to decide. Wouldn’t it be nice if all/many of us actually got a chance to vote (in the primary) before the candidate is elected?

    • #23
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:05 AM PDT
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  24. Joe Inactive
    Joe

    So if you’re a Republican thinking about running for the top executive post in a heavy blue state, prepare to flush your hopes of a presidency goodbye. You wanna try your hand prodding a state that overwhelming votes against your party to a more favorable end, coaxing them to a better solution? Be our guest, but we like our candidates from deep red states, who can sit back, vote the party line, and drop a little moralizing legislation around election time.

    Oh, and we like realists too. And unicorns.

    • #24
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • Like
  25. Conservative Episcopalian Inactive

    While you make a pretty good case about Romney’s political proclivities, you peaked my interest with these words: “Nothing that Romney has said in any of his speeches to date or in any of the debates suggests that he believes that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the administrative entitlements state. It needs a bit of tweaking here and there. Expenditures and revenues must be brought into balance. But it is in principle sound. That is what he believes. That is the position he will espouse.

    Isn’t this essentially what Congressman Paul Ryan believes about the federal budget? He doesn’t really talk about fundamental change or jettisoning things, he talks about limiting entitlement growth and growing the economy to bring the deficit down. Isn’t what Romney is accused of believing the same as what Ryan says he wants to do?

    Why is Ryan asked to run for president because he owes it to the country but Romney is called a managerial progressive who doesn’t believe in anything when they both espouse the same sorts of solutions?

    Am I wrong about what Ryan has proposed?

    • #25
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:11 AM PDT
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  26. Garrett Petersen Inactive

    I agree that Romney isn’t particularly electable. Even his critics see him as electable for some odd reason. Why do people who’ve picked up on his weaknesses assume other people won’t?

    • #26
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:16 AM PDT
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  27. WI Con Member

    I’ve been going back and forth between Romney & Gingrich, thanks to you Prof. Rahe – I’ve got to go with Gingrich.

    I can’t think of a single way in which Gov. Romney has solicited my support. Newt may shoot from the lip, but the obvious calculation with each Romney statement drives me to distraction. He’s been running for President for at least six years and spent millions of dollars – the dogs don’t like the dog food.

    • #27
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:18 AM PDT
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  28. Western Chauvinist Member
    Paul A. Rahe

    QuickerBrownFox: So if you’re a Republican thinking about running for the top executive post in a heavy blue state, prepare to flush your hopes of a presidency goodbye. …

    No, if you are such a Republican, you should make the conservative argument. In one-party states, such as Massachusetts, eventually the corruption and cronyism get so bad that the other side gets a shot. Look at Wisconsin.

    Romney should have fought tooth and nail against socialized medicine and made the argument against it…. The managerial progressives have done this country untold harm.

    Yes, think of Wisconsin. A deep blue state where the Republican ran on conservative principles, got elected, and has fought hard to prove they work. Makes me wish Scott Walker was running.

    Newt accomplished something similar as Speaker. He’s persuasive. You can feel an audience carried along by his arguments. He convinced Bill Clinton, who now takes the credit himself.

    Mitt ran as a progressive and “fought” for a progressive program in a state which likes its fiscal conservatives to be otherwise liberal. Hardly a profile in courage when boldness and courage are needed.

    Newt isn’t perfect, he’s just better.

    • #28
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:21 AM PDT
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  29. FeliciaB Inactive
    Anon: To get people to follow you, to avoid contention, to work together to problem solve, in business, the military, or with family, you have to mentally integrate into the social context of the issue on the table. Anyone who can do that, and get those involved to follow his leadership and move the issue toward a successful outcome will be a successful business man, military officer, or parent.

    In my opinion, his adaptability in the sense mentioned here is a leadership virtue. Every problem is new. The solution to every issue depends on context. It is empirically true that Mitt is an exceptional leader.

    Nevertheless, I think Obama will decimate him is a debate. For the average voter, with little interest in delving into the matter, it’s invariably style over substance.

    Mitt has substance, Obama has style.

    Gingrich, warts and all, has plenty of both. · Dec 2 at 7:50pm

    Donald Trump is an exceptional leader by the definition held up for Romney. I don’t want him anywhere near the Oval Office.

    • #29
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:22 AM PDT
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  30. FeliciaB Inactive
    Conservative Episcopalian: Isn’t this essentially what Congressman Paul Ryan believes about the federal budget? He doesn’t really talk about fundamental change or jettisoning things, he talks about limiting entitlement growth and growing the economy to bring the deficit down. Isn’t what Romney is accused of believing the same as what Ryan says he wants to do?

    When you scratch the surface, Ryan has a fundamental grasp of conservatism and the brilliance of following the constitution. He communicates it very well. Romney, on the other hand has not communicated such. What he has communicated through his past political actions and statements is out of phase with conservatism.

    • #30
    • December 3, 2011, at 9:26 AM PDT
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