August 03, 2011
In a syndicated column that was something less than objective, Matt Towery explains that “Romney has the most going for him in 2012.” According to Towery, “when staunch Republicans start considering the big prize—who can actually take the White House for the GOP—and when they see Romney ably debate Obama my guess is that even the most ardent Tea Partiers will be cheering Romney’s every word.”
There is nothing original about Towery’s badly hidden campaign ad. I’ve noticed the same clichés on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and wherever else the banking community and other seekers of Republican patronage look to find their opinions confirmed. They insist that Republicans should nominate a centrist—even someone who’s been all over the ideological map—because that person is sure to win over the “moderates” and independents in a race against a president who’s been bad for business.
We are told the important thing is giving power back to the GOP. For that purpose they say we’ll need a “mainstream” candidate who won’t be perceived as being too right-wing. The GOP would do well to nominate candidates in the mold of Bob Dole, John McCain, and the two Bushes. That way they’ll regain the presidency for sure.
There are certain problems with this interpretation of reality. For one thing, the model in question seems outdated. GOP regulars may be inclined to vote for WASPs whom they imagine are like themselves, even if the candidate happens to be a Mormon. Republicans are also disinclined to shake the boat; and to the extent they can be described as conservative, it is only in the sense that they favor a comfortable caretaker, one who looks after their social programs and who goes to church on Sunday. Romney has the kind of image that core Republicans should adore.
But voters have not been able to generate enthusiasm for such candidates. Even less encouragingly, the conventional GOP presidential type has not been able to resist the siren call to bring democracy to distant shores. Bush, McCain, and (until very recently) Romney were (and/or remain) eager to jump into wars to uphold “American democratic values.” Not surprisingly, the younger Bush, whom Romney’s supporters consider to have been an admirable model, left office with a shaken economy and continuing foreign wars.