Wednesday, November 09, 2011

99 and 44/100th Percent Pure?

Bill Kristol is editor of the Weekly Standard and, since the death of his father Irving, in the front ranks of neo-cons. His credentials as a movement conservatives are impeccable. Which is why his editorial in the current Weekly Standard could be a signal event in the fight for the Republican Presidential nomination.

Conservatives have been uncomfortable with Romney from the start, partly because of flip-flops in positions. So they've been latching on to the conservative flavor-of-the-month: first Bachmann, than Perry, then Cain and now Gingrich. None seems to survive more than a month's scrutiny.

Meaning there may be no authentic and electable conservative in the race. Echoing William Faulkner's evocation of the equipoise before Pickett's Charge (in Intruder in the Dust), Kristol implicitly concedes the point:
For every American conservative, not once but whenever he wants it, it’s always the evening of November 4, 1980, the instant when we knew Ronald Reagan, the man who gave the speech in the lost cause of 1964, leader of the movement since 1966, derided by liberal elites and despised by the Republican establishment, the moment when we knew--he’d won, we’d won, the impossible dream was possible, the desperate gamble of modern conservatism might pay off, conservatism had a chance, America had a chance. And then, a decade later--the Cold War won, the economy revived, America led out of the abyss, we’d come so far with so much at stake--conservatism vindicated, America restored, a desperate and unbelievable victory for the cast made so many years ago against such odds.

But that was then, and this is now. Now is 2012, and it seems clear that 2012 isn’t going to be another 1980. The reality seems to be that we’re not going to have a chance to replay that election, with (at least in the hazy glow of retrospect) a compelling conservative leader of long standing but ever youthful, a man who stood tall and spoke for us and for America, riding gracefully to victory over the GOP establishment in the primaries and over decadent liberalism in the general election. Assuming the presidential field stays as it is, 2012 won’t be a repeat of 1980.
Though Kristol never uses the "R word," he plainly is pleading for popularity over purity. Romney may be the most electable candidate running. And, even a once-and-perhaps-future RINO is better than the current incumbent, says Kristol:
Reversing Obama’s weakness abroad, repealing Obamacare, restoring solvency and prosperity and limiting government at home, these are tasks too important not to be achieved because of our nostalgic disappointment that we will not, in 2012, replay a moment that is not to be again--and that perhaps never truly was.
Kristol's clear aim is to give cover to neo-cons, like me, to back Romney.

I respect Kristol. And think he's right about the un-electability of the other candidates (though Gingrich is making a strong comeback). Further, winning the White House next year requires regaining the support of young and independents who voted for Obama in '08. Purity has its pluses, but might be pointless absent political power.

Is this enough for conservatives to sign on, however reluctantly, to a flawed, but plausible, Romney bandwagon? Should polls top policy?


A_Nonny_Mouse said...

" ... flawed, but plausible ... " ?

= = = = =

Good Lord, man, Romney's not just a RINO, he's a Progressive-Lite! He LOOOOOVES his Romney-Care. There have been hints that (instead of working to do away with ObamaCare) he would just issue waivers to the various states which ask for them. Such a move would leave the regulatory bodies and expert panels IN PLACE (think of the 16,000 IRS agents hired to assure compliance, think of those "expert panels" working for another 4 years in anonymity, doing their best to match the execrable policies of Britain's NHS...)

Yes, he would be better than Obama -- but only SLIGHTLY. His election would assure the Good-Ole-Boy Establishment Republicans that the Tea Party and their demands for smaller government were of no account-- just a small hiccup in the march toward nanny-state-ism. We'd have "Progressive-Lite" for the short, sad remainder of this country's existence.

OBloodyHell said...

I'm with ANM. I'll vote for Romney over Obama, but not by choice, but by lack of choice.

Warren said...


Only slightly better than Obama?

Who would you rather have nominating the next two Supreme Court justices, Obama or Romney?

On that one issue alone, Romney is more than slightly better.

It's not a hint that he would issue wavers, he promised he'd do it on the first day in office.

That doesn't mean there wouldn't also be moves by the republican House to rescind Obamacare. Republican may have the Senate, too.

And do you really think our foreign policy would only be slightly better?

Carl said...

Kevin Williamson at The Corner:

"That leaves Republicans in a hard place. There’s Mitt Romney, whom many conservatives distrust and dislike (I do not dislike him, I distrust him), and there’s a bunch of not-Romneys, none of whom seems likely to me to defeat Barack Obama in 2012. My own intuition is that the important variables in 2012 will be, in order of importance: 1. unemployment; 2. 2008 Obama voters’ buyers’ remorse; 3. the Republican candidate. And the question for Republican primary voters is: If it comes down to 'win with Romney or lose with somebody else,' which do you prefer?"