Why Do Some Give Mitt Romney The Benefit Of So Many Doubts?

The recent National Review editorial savaging Newt Gingrich and urging that all candidates other than Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum be removed from consideration set off a firestorm in the conservative movement. I tend not to be an “establishment vs. the base”person   (for want of better terms) but this primary season has ratcheted up the tension between the groups however you define them.

What bothers me about National Review’s stance and others like Jennifer Rubin, George Will and Ann Coulter is the degree to which just about every charge they lay against Gingrich, save a stable family life, could just as easily be made about their chosen candidate, Mitt Romney.

Newt’s a flip-flopper? Mitt? He’s had a few of his own.

Newt has advanced the occasional idea that doesn’t square with traditional conservatism. Romney designed the prototype for ObamaCare.

Newt partnered with Nancy Pelosi. Mitt sends out John Sununu (the man who vouched for David Souter’s conservatism) to attack Newt for opposing the George H.W. Bush’s tax increase (which broke his “Read my lips” pledge).

Newt was unpopular with conservatives when he was forced to resign as Speaker of the House. Mitt was rejected by Republicans four years ago in favor of…John McCain and hasn’t been able to crack 25% or so in polls this year.

Newt “is responsible for the most egregious Republican-on-Republican attack of this cycle.” Mitt lied and said that Rick Perry wanted to abolish Social Security.

I could play this game all day. My point is that if we’re simply listing negatives I can match any Romney supporters hit on Newt with one as bad, if not worse on Mitt.

So instead, let’s look at each candidate’s achievements on behalf of conservatism and the GOP.

I’ll start with Newt Gingrich.

-Led the GOP Revolution of 1994 that brought Republicans control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

Legislative highlights include:

-Welfare reform

-Tax cuts

-The Defense of Marriage Act.

-Balanced federal budgets

-The House passed but Senate didn’t/Clinton didn’t sign a repeal of the assault weapons ban and a bill to ban partial birth abortions (scroll down a bit)

-A 90% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.

-A 98.6% rating from the National Right To Life Committee 4

Mitt Romney’s conservative achievements:

I honestly can’t think of one.

I can think of plenty of conservative things Mitt has said recently but actually done? I have nothing. Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and even Jon Huntsman have far more conservative records of actually doing things to advance conservative principles. Romney has no concrete example to point to.

I’m not denying Newt is flawed. Heck, I was savaging him myself not too long ago. And no, he isn’t as conservative as people seem to think  he is or as he now portrays himself. But to claim he’s not a conservative or not as conservative as Mitt Romney is simply laughable. Yet Romney continually gets the benefit of the doubt from people who should know better. They may point to his supposed electability (I’ll deal with that in another post shortly) but that’s not a license to cut him unlimited slack while beating up on Gingrich for the same or lesser deviations. If Mitt is so much better than Newt why does he need so many breaks and benefits of the doubt?

ADDED: This is another great example of conservatives twisting themselves into knots to see Romney as more conservative than Gingrich.

A few weeks ago, when I weighed Gingrich against Romney, I tipped the balance in Gingrich’s favor with this sentiment: “Romney’s signature achievement was Romneycare, while Gingrich’s signature achievement was welfare reform.” But, last night, I had a thought that tipped the balance in Romney’s favor. Both Romney and Gingrich have betrayed conservatism. But Romney’s betrayals came in a liberal state surrounded by liberals. As he put it at the debate last night, it’s hard to sneak Republican judicial nominees past a board of Democrats. In contrast, at least a few of Gingrich’s betrayals came in a conservative Congress surrounded by conservatives. It’s possible to make the case that Romney is actually conservative at his core but was circumstantially forced into supporting liberal legislation, while Gingrich is actually more pro-big-government at his core but was circumstantially forced into supporting conservative legislation.

That’s Tina Korbe writing at Hot Air.

Let me see if I have this right…Newt Gingrich managed to do what no other GOP leader had been able to accomplish in 40 years, secure a GOP House majority. He did this by displacing the atrophied liberal Democrats so that he could then pass his own version of big government liberalism but was foiled by the valiant conservatives that (and here’s where it gets tricky) he helped to elect in the first place?

And yet Mitt gets some sort of pass for not actually doing anything but we’ll just assume he’s the more conservative choice.

About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on December 16, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. You absolutely nailed it!

  2. The only reason people think Romney is “more electable” is because the media say so repeatedly and go out of their way not to attack him while doing everything they can (and inventing things if nothing real can be found) to destroy all challengers. My guess is that they have something big they know can destroy Romney’s candidacy once they release it, so they are trying desperately to make sure he gets the nomination so that afterward they can bring out the big guns and ensure an Obama victory. Any conservative that can hold their own against the media during the primaries is likely to be able to do so in the general as well, making them much more electable than a candidate that so far has only survived because not a single shot has been fired at him by the other side.

  3. I think most people realize that, on ideology, it’s a wash between the two. I’m not really impressed by the ACU numbers anymore, either. They can be gamed by an savvy politician who knows how to work backroom deals, and then cast his “conservative” vote at the right time. Newt’s notorious for sabotaging serious conservative reforms through informal means.

    Really, the choice is between which of the two is more fit for the role of President. It’s not a pretty choice, but on that score, the more stable, less scandal-ridden candidate is the better choice. Even on aesthetics, Romney’s better, and not just himself. Do we really want to be treated to the sight of the “First Home-wrecker” handing out sweets in the West Wing? No, thank you.

  4. Is Sununu therefore some sort of secret leftist because he thought Souter was a conservative? Does Sununu have an otherwise leftist resume? Even if he does, is using him as a surrogate with folks who like him actually equivalent to partnering up with Granny Botox to burden the economy with “green” moonbattery?

    If Romney and Gingrich are both flip-floppers, where are Romney’s flops? I get that he has flipped, on a lot of things, to become more congruent with the conservative view, but where has he flopped back to a liberal view?

    If you have an example, is it as egregious as Gingrich’s attack on Romney for what George Will called acts of capitalism [at Bain]?

  5. Romney’s attacks on Gingrich for acts of capitalism were equally bad. Getting paid as a consultant somehow isn’t capitalism?

  6. No. Romney criticizing Gingrich’s consulting for government controlled housing mechanisms is not in the same universe as managing business capital outside of Washington DC in the real world. Where people make money. And shareholder’s wealth grows. And efficiencies are realized through self interest and the “invisible hand.”

    The DNC ad on Romney is full of half truths and outright contextual brain farts. Hired illegal immigrants? My gosh, we’ve all eaten apples in season! We’ve hired illegals. ALL OF US.

    Stimulus? His statements in the ad are not mutually exclusive. The inability to see that and to extrapolate meaning is a cheap political trick. Don’t be fooled.

    Healthcare mandate? Um…I love how conservatives shout state’s rights from the rooftops, except in this case.

    Global warming? The ad itself has him saying “humans contribute” and “we don’t know what’s causing it.” These comments are, again, not mutually exclusive.

    Yes, Romney’s timing on the change of position in the issue of life was opportunistic. (Sort of like Gingrich’s outward change toward monogamy…sorry, tangent) But Romney’s change, and it alone, appears to be the justification for the label of inconsistency. When comparing his record to others, it is clear that he is, in fact, like the others. A politician.

    Conservative accomplishments? I much prefer a Washington outsider who hasn’t felt “called” to lead a life of “public service.” Something noble about getting an MBA & JD simultaneously, being successful at Bain & Company, running Bain Capital, returning to save and restructure Bain & Company. Working as a Bishop and Stake President in the LDS faith from 1981-1994, both excessively time intensive lay clergy positions. Saving the 2002 Olympics from financial ruin and bringing Massachusetts into the black. When he got to the Governorship, there was no mechanism in place to attract business to Massachusetts. He changed that. And healthcare. Massachusetts has the most people insured in the nation. That was a pretty hip thing back in ’08. Who flip flopped here in the last 4 years?

    When you look at what he has done in his life, he has taken bloated, over spending and inefficient entities from others and turned there around.

    I want him in the White House.

  7. You’re forgetting that the health care scheme that Romney signed into law, that HE signed into law, with great fanfare by the way, has been an unmitigated DISASTER for Mass.

    It has been an UNMITIGATED DISASTER for their budget.

    So how then do you suggest that Romney “turned around” a state when he signed into law a scheme that has now left the state a basket case financially?

    This isn’t simply a matter of state rights.

    This is a case where supposedly the wonderful business man, the guy who extols his private sector experience, left his state in a hole, that they don’t know how to get out of.

  8. WERE Romney to garner the nomination and win the general, he would do nothing but tinker around the edges.

    The same caution that he demonstrates while running for office he would demonstrate IN office, and would do nothing that would generate a media and liberal firestorm against him.

    But our situation is such that such mild measures no longer suffice to turn the ship of state around.

    With Romney, it’s a case where the man does NOT meet the hour.

    The size, the scope, the scale of the problems that beset us, just about ALL OF WHICH have their origins in Washington, REQUIRE a man that with an OUTSIZED EGO, for no other such man would dare defy the Washington establishment, no other man would dream that he could reverse a process entrain for decades now.

    There are reasons the establishment goes ape at the thought of Gingrich, —————— but rests easy with the thought of a Romney. And it’s not because of his supposed measured demeanor, and it’s certainly not because Romney has been loyal to his wife. The idea that the establishment gives a damn about marital fidelity is a real hoot!

  9. Recall the fervor for health care reform a few years ago. Romney’s health care bill was viewed by conservatives positively, only in the last couple of years has that changed. Are we to trust this chorus of now vocal boo birds but distrust Romney, who also has the same benefit of hindsight?

    So Romney doesn’t meet the hour. But Gingrich does? Who was recently advocating for Freddie Mac before the collapse. Ok.

    He’ll stick it to the establishment? Ok. In some ways, no, in others, perhaps, which encourages me if he does get the nomination.

    As Drew points out, both candidates have their flaws, their flip flops and what have you. I however don’t see strengths in only one of them…I think both have up sides.

    Ultimately though, for me, at the end of the day, I want the candidate whose career in Washington would start in 2013 and not the candidate whose career started in 1979.

  10. Yes, Gingrich is a case where the man meets the hour.

    Just like Reagan.

    Just like Washington.

    Just like Nelson.

    Just like MacArthur.

    Just like Churchill.

    Nobody else in the Republican field, or in the party as a whole, has his historical understanding, his breath of understanding, his intimate knowledge of how Washington works, of how important executive forcefulness is.

    Nobody else is even close.

  11. Sorry Dan, for a second there, I thought Gingrich had written those comparisons himself…then I saw your name.

    Hahaha. I kid, I kid.

  12. It’s OK.

    I wish there were other guys in the party with the mental wherewithal and the nerve to expand the envelope of the possible.

    But they don’t exist.

    The present situation is horrific.

    And the scale and the scope of those problems are not going to be redressed by the election of some mild-mannered non-entity like Romney

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