"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Romney v. Obama

The GOP primary is effectively over.   Let's sum up what kind of candidate we've nominated:

1.  Conservatives have always pined for someone who is not "inside the Beltway."   Check.  Romney has never served in Washington.

2. Conservatives have always pined for a candidate who had "executive experience."   Check.   Romney's governmental service is as a governor.

3.  Conservatives have always pined for a candidate who has "business experience."   Double check.   Putting aside the fact that his father was a business executive and Governor of Michigan, and that undoubtedly opened some doors for Mitt early on, that doesn't account for his extraordinary success in business.   As a man who made himself a couple of hundred million dollars, Romney will easily be the greatest business success ever to run for President.   And it was success at the highest level -- running companies.  

4.  Conservatives ca. 2012 want someone who will stand behind the Ryan budget, which is now the de facto Republican platform.   Check.   That Ryan recently endorsed him, and that Ryan could end up the VP, only makes Romney's support of the Ryan budget more credible.

5.   Conservatives want someone who will be a strong leader on foreign policy.    Check, albeit in a more minor key.   Romney certainly has said the right things of late, particularly in lambasting Obama for his "I can be more flexible after the election" aside to the Russian President.

6. Conservatives want someone who will be a strong leader on moral or "family" issues.   Check, albeit again in a minor key.   Romney isn't the greatest pro-Life advocate, and he certainly wobbled while he was running for office in Massachusetts.   But I actually think he had the reverse hypocrisy from what we usually see on this issue -- when he was running in liberal Massachusetts he had to pretend to be pro-choice, when he was really pro-Life.   And, more generally, I've never met a Mormon yet who wasn't arch-conservative on family issues.   So I guess I'd trust Romney more than I'd trust most people (although not as much as I would trust Santorum, who's a real-deal Catholic). 

7.  Conservatives want someone who will repeal Obamacare.   Check... although here I admit that Romney is least well-suited to make this case due to Romneycare in Massachusetts.   But, on the other hand, it may be that a lot of independents actually want some level of government to assure that the uninsured can get coverage, and Romney can make the case that it ought to be done on the state level, and not nationalized.  

A final point:   we always have to remember that Reagan wasn't Reagan when we nominated him.   He was an ex-actor who had been governor of California a decade earlier.   George W. Bush wasn't George W. Bush when we nominated him.   He was viewed as a weak candidate who won the nomination largely because his father had been President.   No one knew that Reagan would win the Cold War; no one knew that Dubya would be a great leader during the War on Terrorism.   So if you ask me "will Romney be a great President?" I can't tell you.   But, as a candidate, he looks significantly better to my eye than Dole in '96, Bush in '00 or McCain in '08.  

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