There is an old British saying — I’ve never been able to find the source of it — “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” The idea, of course, is that when a crisis arises, a leader will also arise to show the way out of it. By this faith too the ancient Hebrews lived in the period of the Judges when they followed God — and no one man — as their king.
But those of us who feel the upcoming presidential election represents a crossroads of sorts are starting to find this faith in providential leadership somewhat shaken. We’re starting to think that if the man is cometh-ing he better hurry-eth up and geth here already.
Because Mitt Romney ain’t the guy. While he may win the Republican presidential nomination by default — and while he may indeed win the presidency due to desperation — it is clear from every word he says that he understands neither the peril nor the needs of the present moment. Even his supporters seem to realize that he’s not really what is called for. Even his own political strategy — don’t mess up, cling to around 23 percent of the primary voters while other candidates rise above briefly and fall below permanently, force the earliest decision possible before someone better comes along and takes the prize away — indicates that Romney himself comprehends he is no one’s idea of the nation’s savior.
The professionals and money guys in the Republican establishment don’t seem to mind that. As always, they feel that they are the old pros who take care of the all-important business of electability while we children in the base worry about such nonsense as principle and the preservation of the republic. It’s these establishment types who have traditionally delivered the truly electable choices like Bob Dole and John McCain while staunchly protecting us from extremists like Ronald Reagan. On Fox News’ Journal Editorial Report this weekend, the Wall Street Journal‘s Dorothy Rabinowitz — a cultural commentator I esteem for both her fearlessness and her insight — seemed to give voice to that establishment opinion when she said that “reason is going to have to prevail” among conservatives and that they’ll ultimately have to abandon the likes of Herman Cain and “all of the alternatives that are warming their little hearts, that they’re playing with,” and learn to live with Romney as their guy.
And I fear she — and all those she speaks for — may be right. The very stars seem to have aligned against us. Or maybe it was just Mitch Daniels’ wife. In either case, most of the really powerful candidates have either opted out or are too young and the objections toward those already in the hunt are real. Cain seems like a terrific fellow but he has no foreign policy knowledge and his 9-9-9 plan is a mistake — a new tax that will never go away and will grow bigger than he imagines. Michele Bachman is wonderful on the economy, but her social policy is ill-informed and out-of-date. Perry can’t think on his feet, Huntsman’s a bore, and Ron Paul is a better cult leader than candidate. So far, Romney is, in fact, the best candidate actually in the race. I’m sorry, but there is something to be said for realism when you’re dealing with, you know, reality.
But he’s still not the guy. And just for the record, just to explain, the problem is not that he’s a moderate per se. It’s not that he has changed his mind from time to time. It’s not even his failure to renounce Romneycare, so similar to the disastrous Obamacare. (After all, what’s Obama’s argument going to be on that? “His plan stinks as much as mine?”) The problem is that Romney doesn’t understand that we — America — the west — are in crisis: a crisis of debt, a crisis of confidence, a crisis of identity and ignorance wherein journalists, professors, politicians, and priests have become one with the moral idiots occupying Wall Street.
Go on Romney’s website. Look at his proposals. There’s nothing wrong with them, for the most part. They seem intended to repeal the Obama administration and set us back on the path we were on before. That would be fine if Obama were the cause of the crisis, but he’s the symptom of the crisis, its incarnation as it were. Obama and his ideas are the creation of 40 years of moral error and political failure drip-drip-dripped into the consciousness of the country through our schools, news media, and culture. He could never have won our highest office if the electorate had not been bred by that error to foolishness, and then spurred to an act of panicked stupidity by a crisis that had already come. It’s not Obama’s presidency that needs to be repealed — not just Obama’s presidency — but all the ideas that made Obama’s presidency possible.
To do that, we need a man not just of policies but of vision, not just of proposals but of high ideals. A mere Romney might — might — take us back from the brink to which Obama has sped us, but that would only delay the fatal catastrophe. Worse, it would perforce recreate the exact same set of circumstances that got us into this mess in the first place.
Also read: “Mitt Romney: Stuff the Ice Chest“