I was going to drop a personal note to Mary Kissel about the American election but as Sinclair warned Samuel J, his post has drawn me into this once again. So while I am here let me bring into this my post mortem on the American election published in the January-February Quadrant. The article is about the various elements that went into the Obama win. But there is also this that I wrote about Mitt Romney which is a fact of political life that all too few seem to appreciate:
Romney was far and away the best candidate available to the Republicans. In an environment of the politics of personal destruction, there was virtually no element of his life history that could be used against him. He was conservative to an exceptional degree. He was personally warm and humane. He had a professional background that made him almost ideal in trying to find a way through the fiscal mess previous administrations had created. He would have rid the USA of Obama’s impending health care disaster while being able to work with the states to make a system of health care universally available. And on foreign policy he would have supported our Western way of life against a rising tide of totalitarian regimes of various denominations. In each of these aspects he presented a fundamental difference from Obama. But he lost, so let us discuss the reasons why.
And let me just dwell on the one element in what I wrote above that almost no one seems to understand where it says: Mitt Romney “was conservative to an exceptional degree.” It really ought not to have mattered to any conservative since all you had to know was that he wasn’t Barack Obama but since Romney was much much more than that the question does remain why so many people who ought to have known better preferred to take their cues from The New York Times and Washington Post rather than – as just an example of what they might have done – reading Romney’s No Apology instead. It is a book that, cover to cover, could just as easily have been written by Ronald Reagan. And I can only say that if you didn’t do everything you could to see Romney in the White House, you share some of the heavy responsibility for the policies and problems we are enduring today. The effort and political cost of trying to shave some measly and near infinitesimal proportion of the level of government spending is only one of the outcomes America and the rest of us will have to endure. And so far as any single policy question that has already or will show up at the White House over the next four years, the one thing I am very confident about is that Romney’s first instincts would have been similar to mine and to most of those who show up on this site. They would certainly have been different from Obama’s.
And just who was this mystery Republican candidate – so filled with charisma, so potentially popular, so completely electable and yet so deeply conservative – where was this mystery candidate who stood in the wings rather than come forward? Who was this person who might have won where Romney only just fell short. You know, the one who would have turned the media from insanely hostile into being no more than slightly on the negative side of neutral? You know, the candidate who could make all those promises to cut back on welfare and yet have the vote of at least half of the 47% locked up. You know the one who might have picked up say 100 votes in those 59 precincts in Philadelphia where Romney did not get a single one.
No candidate is perfect but if I was going to point out a flawed candidate from the last election, the one I would choose would certainly not be Mitt Romney. That so many who think they are this side of the fence could not see how pivotal the election was and how important it was that Romney win and Obama lose makes me wonder just how impaired their political judgment must be. And that they could not see Mitt Romney’s many virtues makes me wonder even more.