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.