As the record shows, I was no big fan of Mitt Romney. On the 2011 National Review cruise, I predicted that if Romney was the Republican candidate against Barack Obama he would lose, and on the 2012 cruise I had to say: told you so. I took, and take, no pleasure in that; in fact, I even succumbed to an election-eve bout of irrational optimism (along with most of my PJ colleagues) that somehow the American electorate would see through the fraud that is Barack Obama and do the right thing. Oops.
But now that we’re well into the fifth year of the very slow slog known as the Obama administration, maybe Romney’s loss wasn’t so bad. Like John McCain, who’s all but gone over to the other side, Mitt would have driven us conservatives crazy. Deep down, we all knew his “severe conservatism” was just an act, delivered with Mitt’s trademark sincerity. And in any case, the thing that should have instantly disqualified Romney as the GOP nominee — Romneycare in Massachusetts — would have been the gift that kept on giving. Does anybody really think that Romney would have started dismantling Obamacare on Day One?
Of course not. And that’s why it’s not surprising to see Mitt pop out of his La Jolla mansion to warn against the campaign by Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and other radical conservatives in Congress to defund Obamacare. After all, that might mean (gasp!) shutting down the government should the Democrats call the Republicans’ bluff, and we can’t have that — because what would the United States of America do without the federal government? From the Washington Times:
“We need to exercise great care about any talk of shutting down government,” Mr. Romney said at a fundraiser in New Hampshire for the state’s Republican Party, according to prepared remarks. “What would come next when soldiers aren’t paid, when seniors fear for their Medicare and Social Security, and when the FBI is off duty?”
The former Massachusetts governor said that the GOP has better options for removing Mr. Obama’s health care law.
“I’m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy,” he said. “I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare.”
I can think of one right off the top of my head: running better candidates than the two RINOs who cost us the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, candidates who would have excited the party’s conservative base instead of taking it for granted. There are a lot of reasons Romney lost — narrowly but still decisively — to Obama last year, among them the customary Democrat willingness to bend or even break election rules in order to win; for them, as for Vince Lombardi, winning isn’t everything — it’s the only thing. The thought was that conservatives would have nowhere else to go once they got to the ballot box, but the flaw in that thinking was exposed when not enough conservatives bothered to show up at the polls in the first place. Contrast that with the Left’s relentless bush-beating; the Democrats managed the amazing feat of actually increasing black and minority turnout for the second Obama election, which proved to be their margin of victory. That’s how you play the game: to win.
Yes, yes: the Benghazi cover-up, the IRS’s war on the Tea Party, the intimidation of the media — all these things helped. But the Democrats (a criminal organization masquerading as a political party) leave nothing to chance. When they happen upon a stick lying in the road they use it as a club, not a cane, and don’t much care whom they beat with it as long as he’s on the other side.
The other side of the aisle, by contrast, never met a hand it didn’t want to shake or a deal it didn’t want to cut. It’s as if the parties inhabit two different worlds, one that rewards a ruthless will to power and the other that prizes civility and good manners when dealing with an adversary. All of the fight went out of Mitt once he’d secured the nomination; after that his campaign essentially went below the radar, invisible and unmemorable except for his surprise one-punch knockout of a listless, bored — i.e., the real — Obama in their first debate. Needless to say, that uncharacteristic act of aggression was quickly rectified in the next two debates, with a little help from Candy Crowley.
The parade of bad GOP candidates since Reagan has one thing in common: they were all rich men with no skin in the game, for whom victory was optional. The Bushes of Connecticut and Texas, the McCains of Arizona and the Romneys of all over the place had no downside to an electoral loss; they were all just as well-off as they were before the start of their campaigns, and could return to their multiple homes with no sense of personal loss, just a little chagrin at letting the team down. By contrast, the Democrats have fielded a succession of hungry pols on the make, looking to do well by doing “good,” and amassing their fortunes the new-fangled way, via government “service.” Bill Clinton entered the White House with a smile and a shoeshine, and look at him today; meanwhile his wife is once again muscling up for her own re-run at the brass ring. And, literally, almost nobody had ever heard of Barack Hussein Obama before his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention.
Which is why there’s hope for the new crop of Republican radicals, such as Cruz and Rand Paul. Their open contempt for the likes of McCain and his sidekick, Lindsey Graham, is refreshing; they couldn’t care less what he and the other losers who have brought the GOP to its current estate think about anything. It’s only the media that keeps McCain’s star shining, as if he’s the Spokesman Emeritus for that nice, docile party of losers that knows its place. Which of course he is.
Conservatives understand they have two separate fights on their hands: against their ancient enemies, the Progressives, but (more urgently) also the old bulls of the GOP who are content with their role of the Washington Generals, perpetually losing to the Harlem Globetrotters. To win in 2016 ought to be easy — the country is heartily sick of Barack Obama and his “fundamental transformation” of a country that didn’t need transforming in the first place, and to say that either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden is eminently beatable is an understatement. Then again, we thought that about Obama, too.
But in order to win the GOP first has to find somebody who wants to fight. Who’s it going to be?