A piece of advice for my conservative friends: cheer up.
You’ve spent the last year desperately trying to nominate someone other than Mitt Romney for president. You’ve tried to draft Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels and Paul Ryan. You have rallied around Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, now Herman Cain. But lucky for you, you’ve failed. Mounting a well-funded, well-organised presidential campaign, avoiding scandal and not making a fool of yourself in debates turns out to be surprisingly difficult. And so it now looks more likely than it has since the presidential campaign began that, despite your best efforts, your party will nominate Romney, the only candidate with a good chance to win.
I know, I know, you don’t think Romney is a conviction politician. When it suited his purposes in Massachusetts, he acted like a liberal. Now he’s acting like a conservative. That’s depressing to those of you who hunger for authenticity, for bravery, for someone untainted by Washington’s duplicitous ways. But with all due respect, I think you’re missing the point.
It doesn’t matter all that much what Romney really believes, or whether he believes much of anything. Romney will be a very conservative president because that’s the only kind of president a Republican can be these days. Once upon a time, there was a species in Washington called the moderate Republican. Such creatures served in the administrations of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. A few hung on long enough to serve under George H.W. Bush. They backed abortion rights and environmental regulation. They thought government spending on infrastructure was good for business. They believed labour unions were a legitimate part of America’s capitalist system. They supported raising taxes if that’s what balanced budgets required. If you look hard, you can still find such beings. They’re like typewriters, fun to look at, but too antiquated to be of much use. Even if Mitt Romney wanted to stock his government with moderate Republicans who believe in seriously regulating the industries that their agencies oversee, he wouldn’t be able to find them.
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