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Going Rove: Mr. Establishment ‘Squelches’ Talk of Establishment-Brokered Convention

Please: Karl Rove's column pushes the base to give in, but he'll still promote a brokered convention if he has to.

by
David Steinberg

Bio

February 23, 2012 - 8:00 am

Yes, fine: a brokered convention presents obstacles to victory that a decisive primary season does not. History demonstrates this, and reason suggests it, as it defines a present lack of a candidate able to generate sufficient enthusiasm. If the GOP does not coalesce around Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich, the challenge of defeating Obama and ending national decline is certainly greater.

Unless, of course, it isn’t. I just watched a Harvard grad toast the Lakers and a 7-7 team take the Super Bowl, and I think the odds of a GOP candidate-to-be-named-later beating Obama are not bad at all, and definitely safer gambles than those two.

Two GOP groups now welcome the possibility of a brokered convention, but the two analyze that outcome as positive for entirely different reasons. This week, Rep. Thad McCotter made the case against the distasteful group: I support his argument against the anonymous establishment panicked about Romney’s failure with fiscal conservatives, though I’m not convinced by McCotter’s reasoning against brokered conventions producing a new candidate, and I am among the second group unconcerned about it possibly occurring this year.

This morning, Karl Rove — while also making the case that there simply is no GOP establishment, which is like the ACORN insistence that there is no voter fraud, though sans felony — attempted to squelch talk of a brokered or managed convention. I suggest you don’t buy it. Rove has simply recognized the trend behind Santorum’s rise: the conservative base is simply not going to submit to Romney before they have to, and they’ve lined up behind Santorum knowing he isn’t really their guy. A significant impetus behind this strength — besides strength of character — is the conservative base’s knowledge that a brokered convention could, yes, actually produce a Reagan conservative from somewhere, somehow.

Rove’s op-ed is simply the establishment playing another hand: attract them to Romney via crushing their spirit. He writes:

Let’s put it this way: The odds are greater that there’s life on Pluto than that the GOP has a brokered convention. And while there’s a better chance of a contested convention, it’s still highly unlikely.

A summary, for those who don’t speak Rove:

There is no chance of a convention giving you what you want, so vote Romney. However, if Romney continues to scuffle, look out for my future op-ed on what a thrilling opportunity a brokered convention could be. Now please excuse me, I’ve got Haley Barbour on the line.

McCotter called out the GOP establishment a couple days prior to Rove’s op-ed; my guess is that Rove’s piece has done nothing to fade McCotter’s anger. He wrote:

Even as the Republican Presidential primary hits fever pitch in my home state of Michigan, the GOP establishment maneuvers for an orchestrated convention that “chooses” some “new face” as our standard bearer.

I abjectly reject such despicable machinations.

Insiders working to bury Santorum and Gingrich, and to either reestablish Romney or insert another moderate? Clintonian, and absolutely still on Rove’s flow chart, despite this morning’s pshaw.

McCotter continued:

Having unsuccessfully competed against all of the candidates for our party’s nomination for President of the United States, I attest to the mettle of the remaining contenders; and aver that at the end of this brutal primary process — potentially including a convention fight — our GOP nominee must be Mitt, Rick, Newt or Ron.

Following the momentous reawakening of populist conservatism in 2009-10, an establishment controlled GOP convention that produces a handpicked “non-candidate” for our Presidential nominee would:

1. Betray the courage of our current contenders who entered the GOP primary process;

Stand with McCotter against Rove, but rationally, this first argument shouldn’t move you. Courage is supposed to be a quiet dignity thing, and there are a few hundred thousand Americans whose courage we shoud care to reward prior to those four: the ones carrying carbines, handcuffs, etc. (Of course we can safely believe McCotter thinks this as well, he is a known champion of servicemen and first responders. Just don’t like his argument here.) Further, I don’t think Mitt, Rick, Newt, or Ron believe their courage alone need be rewarded, they all seem made of better stuff.

McCotter:

2. Reward an individual who lacked such courage and, instead, chose to sit on the sidelines during this transformational time of hope and peril in the life of our nation;

I don’t believe the possible candidates who chose not to run — yet — made the decision based on a lack of courage; McCotter is presumptuous to assume they did. To include the obvious reason, we should sooner praise a politician who passed on a chance for the presidency for the sake of his family’s stability and privacy. McCotter’s first two points sound like intra-industry back-patting, like when a new model of Ray-Bans gets hired to head up “development” at Disney, and every executive in Burbank buys a quarter-page in Variety to praise his choice of Cuba Gooding Jr. for Snow Dogs. McCotter certainly gives the impression he believes elected office to be one the most difficult, sacrificial positions in public service. (Again, McCotter doesn’t think this. He’s one of the most promising young conservatives serving. Just don’t like his presentation.)

More McCotter:

3. Belie our Republican party’s claim to trust the judgment of the sovereign American people, especially those who have worked and voted for the current candidates; and …

4. Dispirit and divide our party at the very time it must unite to defeat President Obama and reaffirm American Exceptionalism in the 21st Century.

Yes and yes. More:

While for we rank and file Republicans this last goal is primary; for the perk and praise addled GOP establishment this last goal is secondary:  its obsessive concern is control of the party not the fate of the country. The GOP establishment’s every escalating attempt to broker a convention and produce a puppet nominee prove the point; thus, it is the duty of every Republican to condemn and combat an establishment orchestrated convention. A GOP that distrusts its primary voters will be distrusted by general election voters – and rightly so.

McCotter condemns and will combat an establishment-orchestrated convention; the conservative base should as well. However, a voter-necessitated convention is fine. First, because the voters asked for it, knowing the established primary rules. And a managed convention with a series of votes designed to brew artificial support for one of the four candidates by eliminating one or two of the others doesn’t strike as being necessarily more democratic.

But second: keep considering a brokered convention because of our national calamity.

The viable candidates are not fiscally conservative enough for our preference, but all importantly, the candidates are not fiscally conservative enough to halt decline. Recent elections held the promise of a GOP win being a satisfactory result, 2012 does not, considering a fall-of-Rome national debt and the structure of unfunded, impossible-to-fund “safety net” liabilities.

Past performance is indicative, and Mitt Romney can be expected to govern as he did in Massachusetts: willing to grow government and to experiment with liberty and property, a past century of those experiments being the sole cause of our national fall. Romney as a private citizen is one of the most successful producers of value who ever lived. Yet as an elected representative, he simply has not governed according to original intent, and has indicated he does not understand it. His defense of Romneycare’s individual mandate as a matter of States’ rights is simply incorrect: Romney asserts that forcing a citizen to purchase a product is not a power prohibited to the States.

Santorum’s record of spending has invoked George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism”, which meant violating individual liberty and property in the promotion of conservative causes, or as a reaction to incidents of supposed occasions when the defense of natural rights is somehow “cruel.” In practice, it meant redistribution at the whims of the elected, picking winners and losers, and every other negative consequence of this illegitimate power described in The Federalist. Santorum’s current economic proposals already belie some of the same: his proposal to lower the corporate tax rate of “manufacturing operations” to zero certainly picks winners and losers; undoubtedly some corporations would be designated “manufacturers” by Washington and some would not.

Gingrich: he attacked Bain. Yet Romney in Bain CEO mode — rather than Massachusetts governor mode — is precisely what we want.

A self-identified Republican is not enough to honor our debt and severely shrink the government according to principles of legitimate federal spending. Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich do not intend to govern this way. I can sooner see their leadership similar to that of John Boehner, who settled for a nonexistent spending cut in a 2011 battle, and with a more pliant House, still would never shrink the government fast enough to outrace a $15T debt and to dismantle the $60T-plus unicorn.

Tea Party conservatives have shown tremendous backbone in this primary season, and no: this is not an unpragmatic ideological “purity” test, or a “message” to the GOP.  Only two options remain for the economy: elect one of the GOP candidates and force them to govern outside of their comfort; or get a brokered convention to produce a Reaganite.

This isn’t stubbornness, Mr. Rove: America needs the entire package this time, which is not comparable to recent elections, when we still had enough liberty and treasure left.

David Steinberg is the New York City Editor of PJ Media. Follow his tweets at @DavidSPJM.
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