FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
To Our Friends at (The) National Review, II
Wow, That Really Went Well, Didn't It?
Well, let me be among those congratulating you on your endorsement, over the course of not one, but two campaign cycles, of Willard “Mitt” Romney for Republican Nominee for President. I would like to remind you of your rationales for endorsing President-elect Romney. It might be small and un-generous of me, but I’m sure you can enjoy the benefits of that endorsement, direct and indirect, as a consolation.
More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.
Governor Romney won our endorsement last time, in part because some of the other leading candidates were openly hostile to important elements of conservatism. He is highly intelligent and disciplined, and he takes conservative positions on all the key issues. We still think he would make a fine president, but time and ceaseless effort have not yet overcome conservative voters’ skepticism about the liberal aspects of his record and his managerial disposition.
That blurb is itself incomplete, as your non-endorsement endorsement also praised Governor Huntsman (how’s he doing, by the way?) and specifically listed a lack of executive experience as the sole disqualifier(!) for extremely former Senator Santorum — a disqualifier apparently not shared by the two former governors. You’ll recall that you also praised this quality of President-elect Romney’s in 2008 — how did you put it? Oh, right: He is “more likely [than actually-elected twice President Bush] to demand performance from his subordinates.”
Now, it might be small of me to note this, but I’ve already confessed to meanness, so: Did any of you notice that Mitt Romney isn’t really very good at campaigning, let alone winning elections? That he lost in 1994, won in the high-water year of 2002, ran screaming in 2006, got his butt spanked in 2008, and only overwhelmed Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum with unholy gobs of money? That the story of the 2008 campaign was of an organization that was not very well-managed, and was instead a group of tightly-controlled fiefdoms who treated insiders — except of course favored insiders from prominent national magazines — as the enemy, even if, especially if one might say, they were conservatives?
It may not be the thing to mention on, say, a paid trip to Italy for no reason whatsoever, but it is a terribly important thing if one is endorsing, let us say, a candidate for the most expensive and complicated election process in the world. As we now know, from those well-disciplined subordinates who are desperately leaking against each other at all costs, the campaign was a total screw-up from Kolob to Adam’s Altar, Missouri. One generally blames the head of an organization for replicating a Fatty Arbuckle out-take, you know.
I know, I know. I’m nit-picking, right? So let’s move past that, to the robust defense of conservative principles and policies — remember the whole “he takes conservative positions on all the key issues” bit? Let’s get to that.
Remember how he endorsed Paul Ryan’s budget plan? Issued a detailed one himself? Went to war against Obamacare? Something something something?
(Even sarcasm gets hard at times.)
You sold your souls to back an utter incompetent. You don’t actually have to endorse anyone, you know. It’s actually quite easy: We refuse to endorse anyone because half the candidates are barking mad, and the other half are at least slightly incompetent and at least slightly left-loony on command.
Ta-da! I mean, it’s not like anyone’s paying for your endorsement, right?
During the Bush years, you went from being a conservative flagship to being a Republican one. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s a free country (for at least another twenty-six months), but it might not hurt to be up-front with your readers, you know?
Perhaps we should expect no better; your recent NewsMax deal appears aimed exclusively at making sure the Unsubscribe link on your mass emails no longer works and Google’s Spam filter can’t stop you no matter what. (Block your own damned email?)
But out of the bloody ashes of my respect for you, one piece of advice: If you’re going to trade a vital cause for being a good party organ, if you’re still going to hide what you are behind what your readers expect you to be, at least don’t pick such a stumbling moron that you sacrifice what’s left of your credibility with those otherwise too dumb to pick up on what’s happened.
Free advice, worth every penny.
Just like your last Presidential endorsement.