Two-and-a-Half Cheers for Romney

Some time back, I wrote a post that John Andrews characterized as, “Two Cheers for Romney,” an explanation of why I had finally climbed on board and was supporting him for President.  And while I’m obviously strongly backing him over President Obama, it’s important to remember just what we’re getting.  We’re not getting Ronald Reagan.  We’re getting, I think, Nixon without the paranoia, someone who’s by nature conservative, but not a movement conservative.  We’re getting someone who won’t actually start turning back the debt and reducing the mission of government.

But he will try to stop the abuse of executive branch authority.  He understands how economies actually work, and what it takes to create wealth rather than destroy it.  While he’s without foreign policy experience, he’s not without a foreign policy, and he understands that the world craves and needs American leadership, and that American values can’t thrive even at home without that leadership.

Barack Obama, depending on whom you listen to, either understands none of that, understands all of it and doesn’t care, or understands all of it and wants to use it as a bludgeon to implement the next stage of Progressivism.  To me, what he understands is less important that what he’ll implement, and the next stage of Progressivism is fearsome enough as a policy.

We’re getting someone who will, in order words, buy us enough time and breathing room to start rolling back the welfare state and the bureaucratic state.

There are risks with this approach.  The most obvious is that the growth in government won’t stop or slow down enough, and we’ll be left as we were with George W. Bush – unhappy with much, but unwilling to contradict the leader of our own party.  And indeed, too unrestrained an objection to this or that policy could end up undermining a presidency that we ought to see as an opportunity.

But I think the greater threat comes from the forces that Prof. Paul Rahe identifies with the newly-minted Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder:

But, like most businessmen, he is timid in the face of potential conflict, and he instinctively shuns anything that would really ruffle feathers. He did not have the courage or perhaps the imagination to stage a confrontation with the unions in the manner of Scott Walker, and so he nixed right-to-work. In effect, he opted for half-measures; and, in the process, he squandered a mandate to change things in the state.

If my fears are realized, it will be due to the fecklessness of a single Republican – who had a chance to set things right but failed to recognize that bad management is not the chief source of Michigan’s problems and that he had to confront more fundamental problems and articulate an argument appealing to justice in defense of what he intended to do.

This fact ought to give one pause. If Mitt Romney wins in November — and I still expect him to win by a landslide — I sure hope that he does not revert to the technocratic, apolitical bipartisanship that marked his tenure as governor in Massachusetts. If he does, we may see Barack Obama back in 2016 . . . or someone worse.

Romney makes much of his ability to work with Democrats.  But looking at the ferocity of the press assault, the intransigence and just plain disingenuousness of Harry Reid, and the magnitude of the task before us, it’s just as important that he know how to work against them, when necessary.  If he can do that, if he’s willing to do that, then we’ll have a chance to start turning this thing around.

Then, he’ll finally earn that last half-cheer from me.

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