The Case for Mitt Romney

When scouring the web, it can be difficult to come across an actual pro-Romney piece. Usually, they are anti-Obama pieces in which Romney is presented simply as the “not Obama” candidate. That to me will not do. Someone, somewhere,  has to actually like this guy. Well, I believe I have found two intellectually honest pro-Romney articles that I can sink my teeth into. Unsurprisingly (if you read my blog) they come from David Brooks and David Frum.

Now, the main assumption of both these endorsements is that Mitt Romney will turn his back on the far-right Tea Party crowd he’s pandered to since the primaries. I also think that Mitt Romney’s default governing style is a non-ideological problem solver. He’s no Tea Partier, but there’s no way to know how much they will hold sway over his agenda. David Brooks writes:

At the same time, Romney would probably be faced with a Democratic Senate. He would also observe the core lesson of this campaign: conservatism loses; moderation wins. Romney’s prospects began to look decent only when he shifted to the center. A President Romney would look at the way Tea Party extremism had cost the G.O.P. Senate seats in Delaware and Nevada — and possibly Missouri and Indiana.

To get re-elected in a country with a rising minority population and a shrinking Republican coalition, Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate. To get his tax and entitlement reforms through the Democratic Senate, Romney would have to make some serious concessions: increase taxes on the rich as part of an overall reform; abandon the most draconian spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget; reduce the size of his lavish tax-cut promises.

That is an interesting point that I have heard no one else make: Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping nature is a virtue. Most people (including myself) look at Romney’s position changes as pure cynical gamesmanship, but Brooks sees it as a way for him to build governing coalitions. Brooks continues:

The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.

David Brooks feels that our economic problems are beyond the capacity of the President to fix at this point. It must heal on its own. What is more important in the meantime is to restructure our bloated institutions so they can face the 21st century.

David Frum has a similar take on Mitt Romney. He gives Barack Obama credit where almost no conservatives will:

When President Obama took office in January 2009 the US was plunging downward into the worst recession since World War II. By summer 2009, the US had begun a weak but real recovery, which at last seems to be accelerating into an expansion that more and more Americans can feel.

President Obama gave the order that killed Osama bin Laden. He ended the war in Iraq on acceptable terms. He is enforcing tightening sanctions against Iran, inspiring hopes of a peaceful end to that country’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile, his opponents in Congress have behaved about as badly and irresponsibly as any opposition group since the congressional Democrats of the mid-1970s forced the defeat of South Vietnam. And as for conservatives in the country – well, I’ve posted my thoughts elsewhere on that particular plunge into paranoia and extremism.

His endorsement of Romney is not based on the past, however. He looks to what the candidates have planned for the next four years.

Because the president’s economic ideas all involve more and costlier government, his first post-election priority is fiscal: raise more revenue from higher taxes. If the president has his way, the top income-tax rate with surtaxes will jump past 40%, a rate not seen since the middle 1980s. We don’t need another round of income tax cuts, but if new revenues are needed, they should be raised from taxes on consumption and carbon, not work, saving, and investment….

…The question over his head is not a question about him at all. It’s a question about his party – and that question is the same whether Romney wins or loses. The congressional Republicans have shown themselves a destructive and irrational force in American politics. But we won’t reform the congressional GOP by re-electing President Obama. If anything, an Obama re-election will not only aggravate the extremism of the congressional GOP, but also empower them: an Obama re-election raises the odds in favor of big sixth-year sweep for the congressional GOP – and very possibly a seventh-year impeachment. A Romney election will at least discourage the congressional GOP from deliberately pushing the US into recession in 2013. Added bonus: a Romney presidency likely means that the congressional GOP will lose seats in 2014, as they deserve.

As for those who claim that a vote for Romney is a vote for war – either against Iran or somebody else – I’d just note this: President Obama escalated one war (Afghanistan) and started another (Libya). American foreign policy is much more continuous than discontinuous. Obama’s foreign policy is George W. Bush’s with a course correction, and Mitt Romney’s will be Barack Obama’s, with another course correction. Neither man will want war with Iran if it can possibly be avoided. But I don’t think either man would flinch from striking Iran if it proved unavoidable – and one man, Romney, will approach that decision governed by fewer illusions about the dangers the United States faces in the world.

Frum also suggests an alternative to a party line vote:

What we need inside Washington is an administration that respects market forces, works to control healthcare spending, and keeps out of the way of the gathering recovery.

Which is why, if I lived outside the District of Columbia, I’d split my ticket. I’d vote Romney for president, and balance that with a vote for a moderate-to-conservative Democrat for House and Senate, if such Democrats are locally available. If I lived in Virginia, for example, I’d vote with gusto against George Allen – a perfect example of what we don’t need any more of in Congress. I’d vote against an Akin or a Mourdock, and against any member of the House who urged Congress toward a voluntary default in the debt-ceiling fight of 2011.

These two voices represent the best reasons to vote for Mitt Romney. If you are looking for conservative opinions beyond the mindless Fox News, race-baiting, Obama-hating crowd, here you go.

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9 Responses to The Case for Mitt Romney

  1. trp2011 says:

    These arguments would be more persuasive without Romney’s history. David Frum is desperately trying to save his party, and David Brooks flips his opinions almost as often as Romney, depending on the proximity of elections and the location of his presentation. I’ve heard him excoriate Romney on Fox or CNN and then come out the next day with a newspaper column justifying Romney’s positions. The GOP argument for Romney’s flips is that this is good business strategy, but we know that Bain’s strategy does not make for good government. In fact, all Republican businessmen who became presidents in the 20th century have caused great problems for the United States. The argument that we should elect Romney because the GOP will get along with him is pure extortion, leading to the destruction of the economy, human rights, and democracy itself. Thanks for the attempt to find something positive about Romney, but it’s like saying that at least serial killers help bring down the planet’s population.

    • Thanks for your comment. I also posted the two best arguments for Barack Obama. Did you find that one more persuasive?

      Its a bit of a moot point now that the election is over, but some soul searching on the right side of the isle is in order now that its over.

      I also posted Frum’s autopsy of Romney’s defeat. It felt pretty accurate to me. Have you read his piece yet? I provide a link in my article.

      Thanks again for reading!

  2. Lex says:

    Didn’t read ’em. I’ll try to when I get some time. Thanks.

    • Great. I’m not trying to create a false sense of balance here by the way. I just want to put the best arguments out there to generate more honest debates.

      I hate when news creates false equivalencies just for ‘balance.’

  3. Lex says:

    What Jarrett said. You can go to BLS.gov and look at civilian federal employment figures by year all the way back to the Kennedy administration and see who has expanded government and who has shrunk it. This is not rocket science.

    Also, politics aside, Romney exhibits all the signs and symptoms of a classic sociopath. I no more want someone with that disorder in the Oval Office than I do someone with Alzheimer’s dementia.

    Brooks has been so badly wrong on so much for so long that I long ago stopped reading him. No kidding; I was in newspapers for 25 years, and anyone at my paper with his record of just outright factual errors would have been fired many times over, before you even get into the contextual inaccuracies, logical fallacies and so forth. If you have a taste for both facts and gore, though, you can look at what the blogger Driftglass and Esquire blogger Charles Pierce have written about him over the years and get way more fact-based examples than you ever dreamed existed.

    And as much as I like some of what Frum has done since leaving government, the Iraqi (and, consequently, American) blood on his hands is never going to wash off. A sane society would have cast him into the outer darkness years ago.

    • Thank you for your comment! I will certainly check those other blogs out.

      I take it that you did not find them very persuasive. Did you like EJ Dionne and Johnathan Chait’s case for Barack Obama better? I also posted their arguments as well.

  4. Jarret R. says:

    Oh, and one final point per Frum’s concerns about growing government in a second Obama term. This a standard conservative red herring. You show me a Republican that has reduced, rather than increased the size of government, and I’ll show you a dead Sasquatch on a slab. We’ll both be waiting for a long time because neither of those two things actually exists.

  5. Jarret R. says:

    Generally, I respect Frum, even though I usually disagree with him. His Romney endorsement is a classic case-in-point. The real kicker is this part:

    “If anything, an Obama re-election will not only aggravate the extremism of the congressional GOP, but also empower them: an Obama re-election raises the odds in favor of big sixth-year sweep for the congressional GOP – and very possibly a seventh-year impeachment. A Romney election will at least discourage the congressional GOP from deliberately pushing the US into recession in 2013.”

    Basically, he’s saying that because President Obama has faced an opposition that is completely insane, and will take the country down with it in its attempts to spear its Presidential white-whale, we should vote against Obama to please the crazed opposition. This is giving in to hostage taking, Frum will be voting for Romney above all else because he’s a Republican, and Romney is running to be chief of the Republican tribe. I don’t necessarily fault Frum for this; certainly, I can’t really see myself voting for a Republican in the near future under any circumstances, because I’m a liberal, and tribalism is powerful.

    But if Romney wins, the idea that he’ll magically be able to deny the whims of the Tea Party Congress whose boots he has licked for the past three years is laughable. Frum wants to keep the ACA, yet Romney has repeatedly stated that he will repeal it, and if Frum thinks that this Congress won’t hold their Republican president’s feet to the fire on this matter, he’s kidding himself. Finally, as Andrew Sullivan stated rather succinctly, if Romney did in fact decide to govern as a “moderate,” then he effectively campaigned on an endless series of lies to the public. This makes him a crass, spineless, opportunistic liar, and not fit to hold office. In the United States, we don’t negotiate with terrorists like the ideological maniacs who control Congress right now.

    • These were the two best arguments for Romney I could find. That should tell you something. I’ll be posting the case for Obama later.

      I do think its interesting that Frum advocated voting for Romney then any moderate Dems you have the opportunity to vote for. I do think it would work out well to have Romney working with a Democratically held congress and senate.

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