The Republican Dukakis

The problem with Mitt Romney is not just that he’s a Mormon.  And it’s not just that he is insufficiently conservative.  As George Will argues, it’s because he tries to straddle all issues and seldom comes down to a consistent position.  After describing his various waffling positions on ethanol subsidies, bailouts, and state public employee unions, Will comes to the following conclusion:

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable; he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate. Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the Tea Party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming.

Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from “data” (although there is precious little to support Romney’s idea that in-state college tuition for children of illegal immigrants is a powerful magnet for such immigrants) and who believes elections should be about (in Dukakis’s words) “competence,” not “ideology.” But what would President Romney competently do when not pondering ethanol subsidies that he forthrightly says should stop sometime before “forever”? Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?

via Mitt Romney, the pretzel candidate – The Washington Post.

A Republican Dukakis!  A governor of Massachusetts.  Someone who looks good but has authenticity problems.  Someone who promises competence, not ideology.  Will’s characterization may say it all, including predicting the outcome should Romney, as seems likely, get the Republican nomination.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • larry

    The article is getting on the mark. The elephant in the room is, many conservatives simply will not vote for MR even if it means breaking a few more eggs to make an omlet for 4 more years. And it has nothing to do with his Mormonism.

    This election cylce is two fold, the desire for a true conviction and an anti-establishment vote (one actually sees this on both sides).

    I suspect there are liberals that think in kind this way.

    If there is a common thread among liberal and conservative rank files, it is a common thread, left and right, of “tired of hearing gonna fix X” and getting the same old Washington tap dance.

    Liberals of true conviction, not the crazy extremes, and conservatives of true conviction, not the crazy extremes actually come very close to each other. Both don’t want an inept worthless government (i.e. waste), liberals wish to solve this by feeding more to the system, cons, wish to cut it. And neither like the big bank/wall street bailouts, they both see an “unholy” aliance there.

  • larry

    The article is getting on the mark. The elephant in the room is, many conservatives simply will not vote for MR even if it means breaking a few more eggs to make an omlet for 4 more years. And it has nothing to do with his Mormonism.

    This election cylce is two fold, the desire for a true conviction and an anti-establishment vote (one actually sees this on both sides).

    I suspect there are liberals that think in kind this way.

    If there is a common thread among liberal and conservative rank files, it is a common thread, left and right, of “tired of hearing gonna fix X” and getting the same old Washington tap dance.

    Liberals of true conviction, not the crazy extremes, and conservatives of true conviction, not the crazy extremes actually come very close to each other. Both don’t want an inept worthless government (i.e. waste), liberals wish to solve this by feeding more to the system, cons, wish to cut it. And neither like the big bank/wall street bailouts, they both see an “unholy” aliance there.

  • MMc

    Conservatives are looking for a leader. By definition, a leader gets out in front of others, persuading with his or her vision, so others will follow. Unfortunately we have a number of politicians who “lead from behind” and tailor their views to match the polls. This is following, not leading.

  • MMc

    Conservatives are looking for a leader. By definition, a leader gets out in front of others, persuading with his or her vision, so others will follow. Unfortunately we have a number of politicians who “lead from behind” and tailor their views to match the polls. This is following, not leading.

  • Tom Hering

    Not “following” but pandering. Or informal democracy. Or both. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Not “following” but pandering. Or informal democracy. Or both. :-D

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, what is it about Massachusetts that produces losing Presidential candidates so frequently accused of being spineless or flip-floppy? Sure, Romney causes Dukakis to leap to mind, as they were both governors. But let’s not forget the most recent such Massachusettsian.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Man, what is it about Massachusetts that produces losing Presidential candidates so frequently accused of being spineless or flip-floppy? Sure, Romney causes Dukakis to leap to mind, as they were both governors. But let’s not forget the most recent such Massachusettsian.

  • http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/ David Cochrane

    Reminds me some of King George Bush I. Lots of waffles but no syrup.

  • http://fivepintlutheran.blogspot.com/ David Cochrane

    Reminds me some of King George Bush I. Lots of waffles but no syrup.

  • larry

    I wonder if he will go tooling around in a tank wearing a helmet, then the match would be complete.

    Last night they were comparing MR, positively, to McCain & Dole. Basically attempting a positive light on the fact that they too were early on steady eddys but then one the primary (the positive). But that’s like saying, “look what a great ship the Titanic iss”, before you get to the end of the story. As I pointed out to my wife, “Yea and we all know how those elections finally turned out.”

  • larry

    I wonder if he will go tooling around in a tank wearing a helmet, then the match would be complete.

    Last night they were comparing MR, positively, to McCain & Dole. Basically attempting a positive light on the fact that they too were early on steady eddys but then one the primary (the positive). But that’s like saying, “look what a great ship the Titanic iss”, before you get to the end of the story. As I pointed out to my wife, “Yea and we all know how those elections finally turned out.”

  • kerner

    I understand the conventional theory that concludes that Romney gets the nomination, but ?I think it fails to take into account the shear numbers of conservatives who oppose him. Sooner or later some of the trailing conservatives (Santorum, Bachman etc.) are going to start dropping out. Their supporters will not go to Romney, but to whoever their conservative “second choice” is.

    The reason McCain won in 2008 was because his 3 strongest challengers (Romney, Giuliani and Huckaby) were no more (and probably less) conservative than McCain was. I was appalled when some conservative pundits tried to get behind Romney to thwart McCain. At least McCain had some genuine principles, some of which were conservative (maybe not as much or as many as we might like, but some). Romney’s only guiding principle is Romney, and I don’t belive that will ever change.

  • kerner

    I understand the conventional theory that concludes that Romney gets the nomination, but ?I think it fails to take into account the shear numbers of conservatives who oppose him. Sooner or later some of the trailing conservatives (Santorum, Bachman etc.) are going to start dropping out. Their supporters will not go to Romney, but to whoever their conservative “second choice” is.

    The reason McCain won in 2008 was because his 3 strongest challengers (Romney, Giuliani and Huckaby) were no more (and probably less) conservative than McCain was. I was appalled when some conservative pundits tried to get behind Romney to thwart McCain. At least McCain had some genuine principles, some of which were conservative (maybe not as much or as many as we might like, but some). Romney’s only guiding principle is Romney, and I don’t belive that will ever change.

  • SKPeterson

    Romney is no Dukakis. Maybe a sub-Dukakis, but he’s more of type represented by that other Massachusetts paragon of political ineptitude, John Kerry. Dukakis was boring, but you got the sense that there was something there. On the other hand, we have the vacuous statements of Kerry to refer to. Romney displays the same boring, somnambulistic condescension as the senator from Heinz. That’s what America needs; a contest between Obama and Romney to wake it up and inspire it to achieve greater things. Yawn.

  • SKPeterson

    Romney is no Dukakis. Maybe a sub-Dukakis, but he’s more of type represented by that other Massachusetts paragon of political ineptitude, John Kerry. Dukakis was boring, but you got the sense that there was something there. On the other hand, we have the vacuous statements of Kerry to refer to. Romney displays the same boring, somnambulistic condescension as the senator from Heinz. That’s what America needs; a contest between Obama and Romney to wake it up and inspire it to achieve greater things. Yawn.

  • SKPeterson

    Dang. Deleted my italics closer.

  • SKPeterson

    Dang. Deleted my italics closer.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    ABC, SK (@9). Always. Be. Closing. Your HTML italics tags.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    ABC, SK (@9). Always. Be. Closing. Your HTML italics tags.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    and the Republican ‘elites’ keep giving us in the US the Lesser of Two Evils –
    wonder why – hmmmmm-should we follow the money —
    carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    and the Republican ‘elites’ keep giving us in the US the Lesser of Two Evils –
    wonder why – hmmmmm-should we follow the money —
    carol-CS

  • Bob

    When it comes to Romney, my position is that of Jon Huntsman, in a new political ad:

    “Mitt Romney is a perfectly lubricated weather vane.”

    Have fun, righties!

  • Bob

    When it comes to Romney, my position is that of Jon Huntsman, in a new political ad:

    “Mitt Romney is a perfectly lubricated weather vane.”

    Have fun, righties!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X