This is a portion of George Will’s column to be published Sunday, and I confess I find it pretty damn funny, if unintentionally so:
“Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from ‘data’ … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for THIS?”
Yes, George, it has. Because, well … who else ya got?
Herman Cain? Rick Perry? Michele Bachmann? Newt Gingrich? Really? Would you be comfortable sticking the title “President” in front of any of those names? Nah, didn’t think so.
I can’t disagree with anything that Will writes about Romney because, well, it’s all so true. (See example below, on climate change*). The man would straddle anything, up to and including a barbed wire fence, and he’d do it with that same forced grin on his face. As Will notes elsewhere in his column, “A straddle is not a political philosophy; it is what you do when you do not have one.”
The question is, how did the Republican Party get to a point in which it has no feasible alternative to this “recidivist reviser”?
I think Andrew Sullivan hit on part of the answer while musing about how a candidate with Cain’s obvious lack of qualifications remains such a force in the GOP primary.
“But Cain is a function, I think, of a deeper Republican reality. It has become a wing of the entertainment industry, and in that media-industrial complex, the money to be made is immense. You do not make that money or become a star in conservative circles by actually governing, by the process of compromise and negotiation with one’s opponents, or by detailed policy knowledge. In the universe where conservatism is defined by Levin and Malkin and Limbaugh and Hannity, you have to be a great polemicist, you have to be partisan above all, you need to be outrageous at times, and you have to appeal to the gut, rather than the brain.
This is an entertainment company based around a religious identity politics and masquerading as a political party. Once you grasp that, you can see why a Mitch Daniels or a Richard Lugar or a Jon Huntsman are asterisks. They know things; they want to govern, not perform; and they are not in a permanent mode of marginalized and angry opposition.
I’m beginning to wonder if the GOP is heading for a defeat they don’t see coming – even in an economic environment which should make the presidency theirs’ for the taking. I hope it is. Something needs to wake them up from their increasing detachment from the reality of governance.”
Put a little more succinctly, the party has outFoxed itself.
* A case in point:
Romney in June:
“I don’t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world’s getting warmer. I can’t prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer. And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don’t know how much our contribution is to that, because I know that there have been periods of greater heat and warmth in the past but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and the global warming that you’re seeing.”
And Romney now:
“My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us…. I think the EPA, acting in concert with the president, really doesn’t like oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. I really do believe that the EPA wants to get its hands on all of energy and be able to crush it to cause prices to go through the roof.”
– Jay Bookman