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.
-The Defense of Marriage Act.
-Balanced federal budgets
-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.