Republican Own Goals

As Gingrich attacks Romney for being successful, and Romney proves too slow on his feet to talk about his admirable business career without apologizing or making gaffes, the Republicans cede the narrative to Obama. Intrade shows Obama’s reelection odds creeping up as Republican candidates, egged on by hostile media, bog down in discussions of fairness and the appropriate cap-gains tax rate for “the rich”. Romney in particular doesn’t seem to understand the political dynamic. He ought to put much more effort into attacking Obama, whose record in office is terrible. In this environment no Republican is going to win the presidency by being a nice guy.

Part of what’s happening is that the economy is recovering, to some degree because the Fed is signaling that it’s going to keep suppressing short rates and buying up long-term govt debt for the foreseeable future. This is an insane policy that funnels money to Obama’s Wall Street cronies while killing low-risk investment opportunities for middle-class retirees. It seems likely to lead eventually to significant inflation. Romney, as the likely Republican nominee, should be hammering the Fed for ineptitude and corruption, for running an unsustainable monetary policy and trying to goose the markets into the election. He should be hammering Obama for trying to reinflate the credit markets to buy votes. (The residential real estate market seems to be picking up, perhaps to some degree in response to Obama’s mortgage-subsidy vote-buying scheme. But it may also be that people see inflation coming and want to exchange cash, especially borrowed cash, for real assets.)

Obama has been very bad for the country. His high tax, high regulation, high cronyism, high uncertainty policies suppress productive investment and throw vast amounts of private capital down politically favored sinkholes. Conservative and moderate/uncommitted voters alike yearn for a Republican candidate who forthrightly defends free enterprise and the opportunity society against Obama’s decadent, stratified socialist ineptocracy. Romney, the great businessman, the man who has been running for president for six or seven years, is tongue tied. My first thought is, This is the best our country can do? My second thought is that maybe Romney will pick up his game as the nomination becomes increasingly certain and he focuses more on November. Hope springs eternal.

7 thoughts on “Republican Own Goals”

  1. Jonathon, you cannot be so naive as to think Romney is fundamentally different from Obama on economic issues, can you? The issue of whether a tax is placed on the wealthiest is little more than an emotional flash point. Whether a tax on the wealthiest is levied or not will have little bearing on the trajectory of the economy.

    You describe Obama’s policies as “an insane policy that funnels money to Obama’s Wall Street cronies while killing low-risk investment opportunities for middle-class retirees”. Do you actually believe that anyone is more deeply embedded in Wall Street cronyism than Mitt Romney?

    What in Mitt Romney’s background would give you cause to believe that Romney cares one whit about “middle class retirees”? What in Romney’s background would lead you to believe that he would radically downsize government and get spending under control? He views government as a tool to manipulate the economy every bit as much as Obama does, not as an impediment to economic groth that must be eliminated.

    While Gingrich and Santorum are weak candidates the critical battle going on is not between Obama and the Republicans – the ‘any Republican is better than Obama’ mentality. The crucial battle for the long haul is for the core of the Republican Party – whether Romney – a Bush 1 and Bush 2 economic clone – deep in bed with Wall Street interests and Ivy League economic thinking – is going to prevail, or whether a true conservative, government downsizer is going to lead the party.

    This is the old Rockefeller Republicans versus Barry Goldwater & Ronald Reagan battle all over again, and you are advocating for the Rockefeller side.

  2. Romney is highly imperfect from my POV but he 1) held real jobs and was successful in life before he entered politics, 2) appears to be psychologically normal, 3) probably likes this country, 4) doesn’t appear to believe in economic and national leveling as first principles, 5) isn’t obviously corrupt and 6) sometimes says things that make clear that he understands how wealth is created. I’ll take him over Obama any day.

    There are many people I would rather vote for over Romney but they aren’t running. There is no “true conservative, government downsizer” in the race at this point. It is conceivable that one would eventually come along if we insisted on having one. But it is also conceivable that someone like Romney is what most Republican voters want, since they have rejected all of the more conservative candidates in recent years. I am not willing to spot Obama another four years to damage the country while we hold out for a better candidate who might never show up and might not win if he did. Elections are about picking the least bad of the options we are presented with. If someone better than Romney becomes the Republican nominee I will happily vote for him, but at this point it looks like Romney will be it. Romney over Obama is an easy choice for me.

  3. I agree with Jonathan.

    What I’d like is a hybrid of Romney, Gingrich, and Paul – very conservative (and Conservative) on economic issues and government powers, firmly neutral (ie: “none of my or the government’s business what *you* do – and none of yours what *I* do”) on social issues, with both a strong foreign policy and an overall willingness to respect constitutional limits of federal powers on domestic issues.

    But politics is not – and never has been – a case of “if I can’t get my way I’ll take my marbles and go home”. At least not for anyone who cares about living with the results. It’s always been about getting the best results you can, and going for a half- glass of water if you can’t get a full glass. The last couple of decades – and most especially the last three years – have seen a lot of incremental changes for the worse in government direction and intrusiveness. If we can’t get a full immediate reversal – and I doubt we can – I’d like to at least see the incrementalism going the other way for a while.

    Romney may not be ideal, but – worse case – I believe he is better than Obama. I don’t agree with Bill on how bad a President he’d be (I think, on the whole, he’d be better than average – and yes, we’d have to keep his toes on the fire on some issues). But he’d be a far better President than Mr. Obama has proved to be, and certainly better than Obama would be in a second term with no re-election concerns to force him to pay even lip service to compromise (“do it my way”) or bipartisanship (“accept my positions as correct”).

    Romney may not be the ideal Republican candidate. None of them – not Romney, not Gingrich, not Santorum, not Paul – is “ideal”. But he’s the likely nominee, and he’s both arguably better from our perspective than at least some of the candidates, and certainly better than Obama. This may be damning with faint praise – much as I dislike her politics and personality I think that *Hillary Clinton* would have been a far better President than Barak Obama has proved to be – but given a choice between Romney and Obama in the general election I’d have no difficulty at all in voting for Romney. And trying to elect a strong Congressional delegation to keep him on the straight and narrow.

  4. You guys can settle for a guy who wants to debate the nuances of Obamacare versus Romneycare if you like. I’ll vote for a guy who thinks government shouldn’t be involved in healthcare in the first place.

    Keep in mind that there are two guys running for whom Wall Street represents the overwhelmingly largest contribution base – Obama and Romney. You’re kidding yourselves if you think a Romney presidency is going to be much different from Obama – on social issues, yes, but on economic issues – two peas in a pod.

  5. Bill, what do you mean by “settle”? None of us arguing here has any significant influence on who the Republican nominee will be. If it’s Romney, as seems likely, then the only real choice is Romney or Obama. Do you think it’s more important to punish Republicans for selecting a lousy candidate than it is to remove a lousy president from office? Even a Romney administration full of Wall Street shills would be preferable to an Obama administration full of Wall Street shills, Chicago thugs and leftist ideologues.

  6. “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”
    – someone somewhere sometime

    Bill won’t settle for less than his favorite candidate, even if they are not running, even if they cannot possibly win. Accept that, and you are done with the discussion, thenk you verry much…


  7. Tom-

    Everyone knows there will not be a perfect candidate. There never is. The question is what is the maximum level of statism that you might find acceptable in a candidate. There is nothing wrong with a protest vote for a write-in or third party candidate.

    I think the Republicans will control both houses of Congress. Romney with a GOP Congress may well be a worse outcome than Obama with a GOP Congress.

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