EDITOR OF REDSTATE
Morning Briefing for January 9, 2011
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I’m rather tired of all the people who don’t like Romney trying to claim Rick Santorum is not a big government conservative, or not a pro-life statist. I would support him before I would support Romney too, but I have no intention of giving up ideological and intellectual consistency in the name of beating Mitt Romney.
Rick Santorum is a pro-life statist. He is. You will have to deal with it. He is a big government conservative. Santorum is right on social issues, but has never let his love of social issues stand in the way of the creeping expansion of the welfare state. In fact, he has been complicit in the expansion of the welfare state.
Suddenly we’re all forgetting what a big government conservatism is. The term was coined by Fred Barnes in defense of George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservative” agenda. Bush intended to use domestic social welfare policy for conservative ends. In the process, he expanded the welfare state to do so through No Child Left Behind, the prescription drug benefit, etc. Rick Santorum was a willing participant in this.
Santorum is a conservative. He is. But his conservative is largely defined by his social positions and the ends to which government would be deployed. But he has chosen as the means to those conservative ends bigger government. We see big government conservatives most clearly when they deviate from the tireless efforts of people like Mike Pence and Jim DeMint and the others who were willing to oppose George W. Bush’s expansion of the welfare state. Rick Santorum was not among them.
I and some friends, none of us Romney fans, have set about exploring Santorum’s record since Wednesday morning. Here now is a non-exhaustive list of what we have found. It does not even include his support for No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, debt ceiling increases, funding the bridge to nowhere, refusing to redirect earmark allocations to disaster relief along the Gulf Coast post Katrina, etc.
This is not the record of a man committed to scaling back the welfare state or the nanny state. Had he been up for re-election in 2010 instead of 2006, this is the record of a man who the tea party movement would have primaried. The only real justification for supporting him now is he is not Mitt Romney, but I still believe we can do better.
Consider, if you will, this contrast. Ronald Reagan said, “The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom.” Rick Santorum, in 2008, said, “This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.”
Rick Santorum’s voting record reflects his rejection of small government. See for yourself.
We live in an entertainment culture. The lives of many in this country revolve around the consumption of media and entertainment. Sports is almost an object of worship to some, and events such as the BCS Championship and the Super Bowl are virtually national holidays, surrounded by endless attention in the news/sports media and other popular culture outlets. Given that media consumption is now so ubiquitous, with flat-screen digital TVs, smartphones, satellite TV, streaming video, iPads and other multimedia sources, is it any wonder that politics has now taken on a similar flavor? 2012 is an election year and along with it, politics as entertainment has come to the fore. Even Entertainment Weekly has a “Politics As Entertainment” page! But the biggest proof point for this is the seemingly endless series of debates between GOP candidates. This may make for good entertainment, but does it make for good politics?
In 2009 we began a conservative resurgence. We had just witnessed a stunning economic intervention from the Bush administration, and were now facing an expansion of government. President Obama, with a complicit Congress, had charted a course that included giveaways to every left wing pipe dream couched as stimulus. Conservatives and libertarians formed a loose coalition and took to the streets to seek redress.
As the movement gained strength and popularity, the Obama administration decided to flex its muscles and force even greater socialist schemes on the people of this nation. The passage of Obamacare, while an absolute defeat for smaller government, served as a rallying cry that strengthened our resolve.
In 2010 we put down the protest signs and picked up campaign signs. We made errors, but more importantly, we took back the House. Unfortunately, we didn’t change our leadership. Betrayals and half measures served to squash the optimism that had been prevalent.
As we began pondering the 2012 GOP candidates, there was a palpable pessimism. The field was unworthy of the conservative resurgence that had returned the House to our control. We were all awaiting a champion.
Pence declined, Palin declined, Daniels, Christie, Jindal, Ryan, none would step forward.
Then, something happened. Governor Perry heard the call and threw his hat into the ring. For a moment, we were optimistic about our primary.
It is such a silly thing, but it plays right into the left-wing attack on Mitt as an out of touch elitist.
All the way back to 1981, Mitt Romney got arrested.
It was no big deal.
Still, the Obama campaign is rapidly building a John Kerry narrative against Mitt Romney. You and I may think the whole 99% vs the 1% crap is in fact crap, but the average joe doesn’t like elitists.
And this isn’t the only time Romney has had encounters with law enforcement that got nasty when things didn’t go his way.
Let’s face it: the ABC News New Hampshire debate was the worst debate of the entire election cycle. And that is saying something, considering the sheer volume of debates. How many years and election cycles will it take before Republicans learn to turn to conservatives as moderators for presidential debates, instead of washed up Democrat hacks disguised as journalists?
Now, to the extent that such a pathetic debate is worthy of any analysis, the clear winner was Mitt Romney. Watching the debate, you’d think Ron Paul was the frontrunner. All of the verbal altercations played out between Ron Paul and one of the other candidates. Romney was able to sit pretty throughout the entire debate, except for one monologue from Santorum at the end of the debate. Undoubtedly, the platform for the debate, along with the inane questions, wasn’t exactly conducive to attacking Romney’s liberal record as governor. However, they all had an opportunity during the opening salvo of the debate. They failed miserably.
For a special interest group that pushed so hard to enact legislation that weighs on the rest of America, unions seem to be the largest group that want to avoid the very law they helped enact. In fact, according to Friday afternoon’s document dump, the vast majority of individuals receiving special treatment in this latest waiver boondoggle are union workers. This brings the total of unionized ObamaCare waiver recipients to over 50% of the total recipients.