Mitt Romney Will Do Just Fine, Thank-You
The upcoming election will be one of the simplest of our lifetimes. It is defined by one axiom: Obama must be defeated.
I'm not one of that crew, sincere but overwrought, who see Barack Obama as some kind of period to the American story, as a native Anti-Christ by way of Alinsky and Ayers. He cannot ruin the United States. He does not have power. I believe with Adam Smith that there is a lot of ruin in a country to begin with, and regarding America, much more than any other. A dozen or two dozen Obamas working for a century or more might be able to put the U.S. to sleep, but a single community organizer? The claim defines absurdity. I am just old enough to recall Vietnam and the '60s riots; I grew up amid the '70s Stagflation. I lived under Carter and the menace of a resurgent Soviet Union. I was working five blocks away from the WTC in September 2001. I have seen real threats to my country. Obama is very much a benchwarmer in that category.
Which does not mean that he can be allowed to continue. He has done real damage, and he must be prevented from doing any more. Americans by the millions have suffered because of his actions. There exists in America today greater poverty, humiliation, and despair than would have occurred otherwise. Obama is now toying, in his response to the Trayvon matter, with mass racial confrontation. He has to go.
So the axiom is: Obama must be defeated. That is the primary aim, beside which anything else fades into nullity, including opening up a moonbase and ridding the world of the menace of contraception. While these might be worthy endeavors, they need to be put aside for the moment, along with many others.
Until now, conservatives have been acting as idealists, in search of the ideal candidate, one who lives up to certain specific criteria. There is nothing wrong with this -- up to a point. Idealism ruled the entire primary process as it ran through a number of deeply attractive but seriously flawed candidates. Each of these was taken, for a time at least, as the perfect conservative candidate. This is understandable when it involves such figures as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, who have done splendid things and will continue to do so. But in the end the process distorted itself to the point where it anointed individuals such as Rick Santorum, a hysteric, and Newt Gingrich, who looks more and more like a flake as time goes by.
Each of these could pass as a conservative if you squinted hard enough, but that was all. They possessed no other qualities or talents that qualified them as candidates. Santorum proved himself to be the one candidate in living memory most easily manipulated by the media. And as for Gingrich -- well, a man hated by the world's penguins has problems that cannot be overcome on the political stage.
And the entire process was carried out for one purpose: to sideline Mitt Romney. I don't have to tell AT readers that I am no fan of Romney. He is a conservative of sorts, some of the time and on some issues. He is not a conservative in the sense accepted at this site, or by the Tea Parties, or by the entire right-of-center counterrevolution, and he never will be.
But, as with everything else, there's more to it. If we could judge the world always and without exception in terms of ideology, things would be much simpler, but as many of you may have noticed, the world at large is seldom simple at all.
A number of things have gone unmentioned about Romney -- by the media because they'll say nothing positive about him, by conservatives because they don't want to face up to it. First, he does not miss a trick. At the height of the Santorum's primary campaign, Romney managed to outdo him by the stratagem of sending one of his sons to campaign in the Marianas, picking up 9 delegates and added momentum. This is something that would never have occurred to the conventional Republican political technician, most of whom have no idea where the Marianas are. It's a swashbuckler's move, bold and imaginative in a way that we haven't seen much of in recent years. The fact that Romney pulled it off without getting anything in the way of credit for it says more about the current political culture than it does about Mitt Romney. (Under ordinary circumstances, Newt could be expected to admire such a move. I have no doubt that Newt knows exactly where the Marianas are, and may be thinking about building a spaceport there.)
Romney does not apologize. When caught out in a faux pas (as when he mentioned his three -- or was it five? -- Cadoos) he does not get flustered; he does not allow himself to be cornered; he just smiles and moves on. When is the last time we saw this level of confidence in a candidate?
The same is true of the killer instinct, which Romney undoubtedly possesses, in contrast to just about every other visible candidate. Also beyond doubt is his ability to control it. He knows exactly how hard to strike, where, and how many times, with the precision and finesse of a 17th-century samurai. When the Romney PACs cut loose on Santorum and Gingrich, they blasted away just long enough to inflict mortal wounds without making a spectacle out of it. Romney got all the benefit he required without in the least tainting his brand.
The point is that Romney has become something of a master campaigner, of a type that we have not seen in a long time. He knows exactly what cards are on the table and who is holding which ones, and he lays down his own one at a time with no hurry or fuss. And so far, he has taken the pot more times than he has lost. (Granted that in real life Romney may never have been in the same room with a deck of cards.)
Thus far, Romney has gone through the campaign like a tank in a thousand-dollar suit -- accepting no opposition, turning away from no obstacles. He just keeps rolling. It's nearly impossible to run a flawless campaign in the information era. Too many people are watching, waiting to pounce on any error, and the 24/7 news cycle is guaranteed to keep any such story rolling. But despite his Cadillacs, his slips of the tongue, and poor Seamus out in the slipstream, Romney has come as close as anybody in the past quarter-century.
Another point being overlooked is that Mormons are no longer either hated or feared. Despite overtime work by the media, anti-Mormonism has been unable to gain any sort of traction. Mormonism is no longer an issue. The ghosts of Nauvoo and Mountain Meadows have gone to rest at last, and the Saints have become an acceptable American variant. Somewhere in Valhalla, Joseph Smith is smiling.
A master campaigner -- the only one on the national horizon -- vast resources, a likeable family, an admirable record, and nobody hates him for being a Mormon (as far as I can tell, nobody hates Romney for anything). And to top it off, there's that undeniable touch of the assassin. All this does not make him a conservative, but it does make him formidable. In simple truth, an actual conservative would have a hard time coming to grips with Obama. The entire Democratic/progressive/media machine is primed to annihilate such a candidate, who would spend all of this time defending himself with no chance to strike at Obama. Under these less-than-perfect circumstances, Mitt Romney is as close to a perfect candidate as we are going to get.
So let us put away all thoughts of strife and disagreement. All wishful thinking and illusions. The real world beckons. There is no place for the ideal in this conflict. We will have other and better opportunities. For good or ill, Romney is the man of the hour. The only thing of importance is to defeat Obama and everything he stands for. The polls, the shifting attitudes of the country as a whole, and the stark fear arising among the progressives suggest that Romney can do the job. Lets us gird our loins and go amongst them.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.