The Marvelous Meekness of Merely Mitt
"Pit bull, pit bull, pit bull," comes the chant. And for now a pit bull, a Beltway-bred and media-anointed pit bull -- one Newton Leroy Gingrich -- has come out of the South Carolina fight with a win. But Mitt Romney, the not-politician and not-pit bull, continues in Florida and states beyond, offering a true conservative alternative, a citizen-conservative alternative to politics-as-Washington.
"Pit bull" cast the ballots and pushed Obama's Bizarro doppelganger, round and white and breathtakingly cynical, to 40 percent of the vote in a Republican primary. In South Carolina, "pit bull" pulled the levers, touched the screens, and checked the boxes. You can understand the anger, the urge to punish those who corrupt a nation while spending us into oblivion. "Pit bull" is straight from the gut, a visceral reaction to the cynicism and avarice that President Obama and Beltway Washington have e unleashed upon an exceptional nation. But, as Hugh Hewitt explained, "South Carolina ... didn't vote for a person or a platform; they voted for a personality -- the fiery, combative, MSM-hating Newt."
Meanwhile, media and Beltway insiders cheer as one of their own -- the historian from Freddie Mac who has spent most of his adult life as a Beltway barker -- slavers through the South, making a contest out of it. His goal, as one commentator noted of this week's first Florida debate, is the Newton Leroy-centered "caustic comeback," a "crowd-pleasing groove." And Beltway insiders, Democrats especially, are "ready to take out some of the balloons we've been storing" because the pit bull is the preferred match, the Joe-Namath-Super Bowl III-guarantee match that returns Barack Obama to the White House.
But as Republican and Democrat insiders cheer Washington's own Newton Leroy, not-politician and outsider Mitt Romney keeps on keeping on, with purpose and now with what Fox News describes as a fire in his belly. He is merely doing what he has done so many times before in business and in politics: what's right. He is, as Jonah Goldberg comments, "an honest, smart and decent man" attempting to lay the foundation for national success and a change of course, back to America the exceptional. But he's not a politician, he's not Beltway Newton Leroy, and although "that speaks well of him as a human being," corruption and not humanity is what Washington is all about, and the media establishment is joining Beltway Republicans and Democrats in piling on.
Now the left comes at him from the right in the person of Newton Leroy, who is what so many in Washington are: a mouth, not a soul; and a performer, not a believer. Mitt doesn't stir the soul. That's the knock by media looking for a show. True, he sees himself as fighting for "the soul of America," but with belief and purpose and organization and results, not pat answers and clever sound bites, theatrical put-downs and wash-and-wear conviction. He has never awed Sen. John Kerry (D-France), as did Washington's Newton Leroy, by rousing cheering lefties with a call for a federal takeover of all private energy companies to combat man-made global warming. Instead, he remains centered and calm and directed, a throwback to a time when ordinary men did extraordinary things. He is a supremely human being, a marvelously meek human being...merely Mitt.
There is little about him that excites. Unlike Barack Obama, he will never have insider David Brooks of The New York Times run a practiced eye below his belt and declare him a candidate for presidential sainthood. Nor will broadcast commentators like Chris Matthews look at him and discover a tingle, a "thrill going up my leg" at the thought of him as president. No, unless you find sexy such things as organization and results, competence and rock-solid belief in the inalienable and God-given rights of the individual -- better to go with Newton Leroy, who is Obama light, white, and Republican.
Mitt? Well, Mitt is merely Mitt: a decent man who loves his wife and children, a man who turned the great advantages of family wealth and first-class education into extraordinary wealth and jobs for a multitude of others. In Perry-speak (remember him?), he is all cattle and no hat, a man who is meek in the actual biblical sense of the word. Throw aside the modern mistranslations, and biblical meekness recalls the heroes of both Old Testament and New Testament, those who walked boldly but quietly with confidence and conviction, tight with God and firm in belief. Mitt as David? No, there are no giant Philistines in sight -- but this week in Florida, he is on his way to slaying a giant Beltway baloney. He has, as investor and National Review columnist Larry Kudlow put it, "the right stuff," the "[t]ough stuff."
And so Mitt is outraged, and it comes from the heart: "I know we're going to get hit hard by President Obama," he thunders, "but we're going to stuff it down his throat[.]" It is not the faux outrage of Newton Leroy, for whom "all the world is a stage" and he is a Beltway playah, a Washington-bred pit bull willing -- in private and in public -- to bite anything or anyone to advance Newton Leroy. No, Mitt Romney is outraged because "the failed leadership" of Barack Obama and the media and political elites who pursue personal power and wealth at the expense of freedom and opportunity for all reflects "the worst of what Europe has become."
Merely Mitt. And so a bit ago, while "pit bull, pit bull, pit bull" jetted off to Hawaii for an Obama-style tour, his Tiffany's-bejeweled third wife in tow, Mitt did what he has always done, in business as in government, as a candidate and as a family man: make stuff happen. That's why a college professor in a Starbucks in the boonies of southwestern Virginia watched as a casually dressed young man worked his way from table to table, gathering petitions to put Merely Mitt on the ballot in the Republican primaries. Why, he was asked, are you doing this?
"Because there's a job to do," the young man answered. "Mitt put us here to do the job."
So utterly Mitt, so merely Mitt. While the pit bull snarls, the Tiffany's jewels glitter, and Washington applauds...he's Larry the Cable Guy with a relatively inexpensive suit and a whopper of a portfolio: git'r done!
Stuart Schwartz, a frequent AT contributor, is on the faculty at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.