Sunday, September 30, 2012

Romney versus Conservatism

The GOP is not likely to gain ground...or the White House...this election cycle. The horrid slate of faux-Conservative primary candidates, and the ultimate selection of a squishy crony capitalist all but ensures the reelection of Obama. Sadly an upset win by Romney won't likely change the paradigm. We will still labor under increased regulation, decreased civil liberties, a growing Federal government and an obsolete foreign policy.
More interesting is his supposition that Romney could put a blast of wind into his sails by more vigorously denouncing Obama's lassitude. You might think that Romney had already stuck sufficient feet in his mouth with his precipitous and absurd statement about Obama kow-towing to Islamic terrorists right after the murder of Stevens, but then you wouldn't be living on Mr. Krauthammer's planet. Krauthammer wants Romney to "go large. About a foreign policy in ruins."
The truth is that the ruination of the Romney campaign has in part been the handiwork of neoconservatives such as Krauthammer. Yes, Romney is a middling politician. Yes, his campaign has struggled to find its footing. But part of the reason, as a number of commentators such as Fareed Zakaria have noted, is that the GOP itself is becoming an antediluvian party, stuck with a host of orthodoxies that no longer comport with new realities. Nowhere is this clearer than in foreign policy, where the old mantra that America need simply flex its muscles and the rest of the world will fall into line has become gospel for the GOP.
Perhaps the biggest problem for Romney may be that the ideological straitjacket he keeps trying to don doesn't fit him. The union between Romney and conservatives will never be conusmmated. Romney's progressive foes keep pointing to what they see as his penchant for prevarication. But what if the opposite is the problem—that Romney is a bad liar, trying to sell policies that he knows are bogus. The only thing that would speak for Romney, in other words, is that he can't speak for himself. But perhaps the moment has arrived for Romney to emancipate himself, to, as Hillary Clinton once put it, find his voice. The upcoming presidential debates will offer him his last chance to turn around his battered campaign, or a looming defeat will turn into a landslide for Obama. And if Romney does win the election—and, as the New York Times' Charles Blow wisely notes, it can't be precluded—he will know that he did not accomplish it because of conservative support but despite it.
National Interest 

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