National Review has a new editorial urging Republicans to settle on Mitt Romney and forego the risk of nominating Newt Gingrich. A few highlights with my emphases:
Our opposition to Gingrich, by contrast, is not based on any philosophical disagreement. Among Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum, we find only minor ideological differences. None has been a consistent small-government conservative in office; all are running on conservative, and similar, platforms this year.
Romney has executive experience, unlike Gingrich or Santorum, and in past elections voters have seemed to value that experience. But at least Santorum, like Romney, has been elected to statewide office before, and like Romney has shown himself able to reach beyond the Republican base in doing so. Santorum’s record in this regard beats Romney’s, since Santorum won statewide in Pennsylvania twice. Only Gingrich has never been elected to office from anything larger than a congressional district; only Gingrich has never had to reach beyond the Republican base vote to win an election.
Amid all the tumult of the last 18 years there has been this constant: Gingrich has never been popular. Polls have never shown more than 43 percent of the public viewing him favorably at any point in his career. Gingrich backers say that he is inspiring. What he mostly seems to inspire is opposition.
I keep coming back to this sentiment over the course of the primary, no matter which candidate I’m leaning toward: there’s much more to the political world than ideological warfare. (I said the same thing at the end of November in this longer piece critiquing a pro-Romney op/ed in the Wall Street Journal by Michael Medved. At the time my hopes were invested in Herman Cain — something that must be incomprehensible for those who assume that today only Washington establishment, big government RINOs favor Romney over alleged Tea Partier Gingrich.)
Politics is about more than Conservative vs Liberal, Right vs Left, or — as many activists choose to comprehend these terms — Good vs Evil. But the Americans who actually vote in presidential elections are hardly so Manichean. Activists who stick their heads outside of the political bubble for a moment to ask “normal” people who they’ve voted for over their lives and why will be horrified. They’ll hear superficial answers about which candidate they liked more as people. Some women might even confess they found a candidate cuter than the other. (And — not to be sexist: some men might have a thing or two to say about Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.)
But we’ve always known that this is the way modern presidential elections go down. Just a reminder who lost in 1960 and why: