Pro-Romney Republican Establishment Foolishly Following Obsolete Political Convention
by Larry Perrault on October 31, 2011 at 10:01 AM
I recently posted Why Romney Won't Win And Shouldn't on TexasGOPVote, saying that it has been evident for a long time that a large majority of Republican voters are opposed to Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee. Most specifically, the very people who drove the historic Republican win in 2010, comprise the strongest opposition to him. But somehow, this is lost on the erstwhile wise men of Republican politics. George F. Will, who would be included in this class, on Sunday described Romney as the Republicans’ Michael Dukakis, running more on competence than conviction. That’s to put it about as mildly as possible. Having watched Romney closely over years and bringing a serious interest in governing issues, I honestly cannot identify even a few Romney positions that would not be subject to change based on the conditions of the electorate. And examples are legion and just keep coming.
For instance, Romney is known to have supported the failed Republican effort at “comprehensive immigration reform,” supported by Bush and McCain. But after the very animated anti-illegal immigration people (round them all up and deport them…OK, give them water in the process) expressed dissatisfaction with Rick Perry’s non-support for a border fence, and support of in-state tuition to state universities for the children of illegal immigrants who graduated the public school system, suddenly Romney is an anti-immigration firebrand. Those of us who know him never saw it as credible, but really, can you buy that if you know anything about him? This week in Ohio, he voiced both sides of a public employee collective bargaining issue there, and he withdrew his previously expressed support for efforts to reduce carbon emissions to combat global warming. And these are just recent examples of his ideological trimming, or outright reversals, that stretch over his 17 years in politics. Why did he enter politics? I really can’t tell, but can only speculate that he wants to succeed beyond the political success of his own parents. His mother ran for the U.S. Senate after his father, George Romney, served three 2-year terms as Michigan Governor, and was briefly a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. President in 1968 that Richard Nixon won. So one-term Massachusetts Governor Mitt has not caught up to his dad, yet.
Previously, George had been CEO of American Motors, the expired U.S. auto maker. I personally arrived in Detroit about the time that George Romney was leaving his governorship. And a few years later when I had moved to the suburbs and began driving, I spent a lot of time touring the West Bloomfield suburb where young Mitt had lived and gone to upscale prep school, Cranbrook. I always admired the beautiful campus of that school. Obviously, Mitt had a privileged childhood and used those resources to continue his own successful business consulting and restructuring career. And I don’t have a problem with that. But you can be sure that if Romney were the Republican nominee, and I still don’t think he will be, Democrats and media will hang it around his neck like an anchor and throw him in the deep end of the middle-class swimming pool. The supposedly wise Republican experts who think Romney is the form of a candidate who will win the moderates from Obama, wouldn’t recognize the jerk that Democrats had made of him by the end of the campaign. I think Romney would be the easiest for them to caricature as a shifty out-of-touch rich man.
At 54, I’m a little behind these political analysts in their 60s and 70s. But, I’ve been watching politics in America since I was a pre-teen. I remember the seemingly permanent Republican minority when American prosperity was still running on momentum, and there was little outlet for conservative ideas in American culture. These guys are still working from that framework that was chiseled into their political consciousness. In order to have any shot, a Republican must placate the media and their captive public audience. To win, you must be moderate. By all means, don’t come right out and brandish your hideous conservative ideas. That’s why they want to settle on Romney as “the best we can do if we want to win.” But “the media” is very changed now, and I think this political paradigm is greatly and maybe decisively changed; never mind that Ronald Reagan defied it and won two landslide victories even when it certainly wasn’t. But in all fields, paradigms learned early are stubbornly retained, and these old dogs don’t absorb new tricks. And I’m talking about nearly all of the media’s established Republican political professionals.
Three quarters of polled Republicans oppose him, but I assume that in their genuine anxiety over avoiding a too-raucous and uncouth political loser, these people hope to frighten conservatives into surrendering their votes for Romney. But do they consider that resignation is not a sturdy platform on which to oppose an incumbent president? And do they even wonder what potential mess might be made of the party if the drivers of the historic Republican victory last year, somehow actually were handed the limp prospect of Romney as the Republican nominee? I doubt Republicans could be near the same, but could this be as close as they could come to the Democrats of 1968?