Here, in today’s editorial on the GOP primary.
Gingrich is not the only candidate whom we believe conservatives should, regretfully, exclude from consideration for the presidency. Governor Perry has done an exemplary job in Texas but has seemed curiously and persistently unable to bring gravity to the national stage. Republican presidential candidates have not been known for their off-the-cuff eloquence in recent decades, but conservatism should not choose a standard-bearer who would have to spend much of his time untying his own tongue. Representative Bachmann’s rise early in the primary season reflected the public’s hunger for sincere conviction; her later descent, following among other things her casual repetition of false anti-vaccine rumors, its desire that conviction be married to judgment. Representative Paul’s recent re-dabbling in vile conspiracy theories about September 11 are a reminder that the excesses of the movement he leads are actually its essence.
Really? We should toss out the most successful conservative governor in the race because he has been weaker in a couple of debates than a one-termer whose left-of-center policies helped pave the way for ObamaCare? Does National Review seriously believe that a President Perry would spend the bulk of his time dealing with meaningless gaffes? When did policy and records take a back seat to glibness according to America’s leading conservative publication? When did National Review turn into Teen Beat?
The editorial leaves just three on NR’s list of acceptable candidates: Romney, Huntsman and Santorum.
Romney is many things, but “reliable conservative” is not among those things. NR should make an affirmative case for Mitt Romney if its editors are united in believing he is the best of the field. NR hasn’t made that case, preferring to tear down other candidates instead. Neither of the latter two on NR’s list of acceptables has ever polled in double digits nationally. Santorum, like Gingrich, has not run for office in several years and lacks serious executive experience. Huntsman is fond of telling Republican voters that they’re “anti-science” for not swallowing the left’s line on global warming. None of NR’s acceptable three have shown any ability to inspire voters to flock to them. NR’s editorial is obviously, as Ben Domenech tweeted, a weak plea to pretty please, let Mitt pass.
Forgive us out here in flyover country if we choose to ignore this Beltway-based plea from our betters.
Update: Having ripped NRO, I’ll now come to their defense — a little. They got this editorial wrong, and very badly so. But I don’t think they should be removed from anyone’s bookmarks or daily reading. Soon enough we’ll have a nominee to take on Obama. At that point we’ll need all hands on deck to defeat him. Now isn’t the time to be writing each other out of the conservative movement.