Friday, December 23, 2011



The timing could hardly have been better. WHY IS THIS SO HARD? was barely posted when one of the signature “moderate, steady, and electable” squishes of the “mainstream” Republican party reappeared, like Banquo’s ghost, and favored us with more moderate, steady, and electable wisdom. George H.W. Bush, progenitor of the “compassionate conservative” George W. Bush, used his dynamic moment to “unofficially” endorse Mitt Romney. According to CBS News, Mr. Bush told the Houston Chronicle that he is drawn to Romney's "stability, experience, principles," adding, "He's a fine person. . . I just think he's mature and reasonable - not a bomb-thrower." Hold that thought one moment for a disclaimer:

The purpose of this Update is not to beat up on an 87-year-old gentleman who has served his country in a number of ways, some more successful than others. The wider purpose is that he is the perfect metaphor for the moderate, reach-across-the-aisle, “mainstream”, country-club, summers-at-Kennebunkport Republican, of which there are many, and of which Mitt Romney perfectly represents the next generation. Now back to the Update.

In 1979-1980, as the country suffered through the last gasps of Jimmy Carter, H.W. decided that his own stable, mature and reasonable principles would make him the best successor to Carter. Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, who had probably never even been to Kennebunkport, had some wild-eyed idea about rescuing the economy with substantial income tax rate cuts. While Reagan lived by his own Eleventh Commandment throughout the primaries (no one can recall a caustic, pithy attack phrase leveled by Reagan against Bush), H.W. never heard of it. He devised, among other things, the brilliant “Voodoo economics” to attack Reagan’s economic plan. Reagan won the nomination, and you will never guess: the phrase “Voodoo economics” appeared on every Democrat billboard and in every Democrat TV ad for the rest of the campaign, frequently  in phrases such as “Even Reagan’s own running-mate thinks his economic plan is sheer Voodoo economics!”

Return now to the “bomb-thrower” comment. H.W. went on to say of Newt Gingrich: "I'm not   his biggest advocate." He revealed his twenty-year grudge against Gingrich for the following act of extreme disloyalty: in the 1988 campaign, H.W. repeated over and over, to thunderous applause, the emphatic and memorable pledge: “Read! – my!! – lips!!! NO! – NEW!! – TAXES!!!” Not long after his election, H.W., succumbing to his own maturity and reasonableness, reached across the aisle to liberal Democrats to pass a substantial tax increase. Newt, then the House Minority Whip, thought H.W. should abide by his most memorable and emphatic campaign pledge.  H.W. thought Newt and the other “leaders” “were all going to walk out into the Rose Garden and announce this deal.” Note that “this” was not a violation of a pledge, or an undermining of Reagan’s very successful economic program; it was just a “deal”. After all, how do mature and reasonable people run a government without making “deals” with their most intractable enemies?

The point of all this? H.W. likes Mitt because he sees himself in Mitt. H.W. hates Newt because Newt thinks presidents ought to keep their most emphatic campaign pledges, and, having successfully arrived at demonstrably stimulative lower tax rates, should not turn right around and raise them again. The very reasons why an H.W. would “unofficially” endorse a Mitt are the very reasons why we should not want a Mitt anywhere near the White House except as a     dinner guest. Candidate Mitt will give us one of two things: 1) A loss to Obama and four truly nightmarish years in which Obama might finish his terrible work; or 2) A win for Mitt, and maybe a second term, in which most of Obama’s terrible work will get done anyway. Time will take care of the H.W.s and the John McCains, but we need to stop replacing them with the Mitts.

Newt has his warts, as we all do. If you don’t like Newt, so be it. But then find someone else. Someone who has given thought to first principles; someone who has at least read the Constitution [a slow reader can read it from start to finish in less than an hour]; someone who might get a tear in their eye repeating the mutual pledge of “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” [or can at least repeat it without snickering].

And urge your relatives and friends to start paying attention. Offer to take them to a tea party gathering; offer to tape Dancing With the Stars for them while they are out so they won’t have to miss it. Try to make them understand that if they wait until three or four days before election day and then read their local paper’s Election Guide, their country may be gone.

MO Atty

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