Thanks to his tin ear on Iraq, Mr. Howard”a thoroughly competent and genuinely conservative public servant”has been forced into early retirement, and he’s not alone. Howard now joins league with other conservative foreign leaders given the boot because they chose to play along with America’s war games. To greet him on the lucrative lecture circuit for yesterday’s man will be his fellow COWs , Jose Maria Aznar Lopez (Spain’s former President, whose centre-right People’s Party was voted out in 2004) and Silvio Berlusconi (Italy’s past Prime Minister, whose centre-right Forza Italia party was voted out in 2006). The results for social conservatives in each country (for instance, opponents of gay “marriage” in Spain) have been catastrophic.
Politically, Republicans are rudderless. Morale among activists is the lowest it’s been since Watergate’s nadir. Many conservatives have resigned themselves to the inevitability of Madam President. And barring sundry self-deluded pontificators on talk radio, no serious political prognosticator can envisage a scenario wherein Republicans will be able to recapture either chamber of Congress in 2008″especially the Senate, where prospects look frightfully bleak.
The frightfully prosaic rash of sexual indiscretions among Republicans has cast an unflattering light on the Party of traditional marriage, and returns us to Mitt Romney and his fledgling presidential campaign. Alone among top-tier contenders for the GOP nomination, Mr. Romney can lay credible claim to being the values candidate who practices what he preaches. What remains to be seen is if this professional financier can make political capital of this asset. An adherent to a religion that openly practiced polygamy up until 1890, Mr. Romney gingerly vaunts that he is still married to his first wife”his high-school sweetheart, no less.