I have never been for Mitt Romney. Ok, at least not in this cycle. In 2008 I went to Romney when Fred Thompson dropped out, largely because I didn’t want McCain (-and surely not Huckabee).
But that was before ObamaCare, and before most of us got a good look at RomneyCare. So effing sue me… and Limbaugh and Levin and probably some others while you’re at it.
I started out this cycle supporting Tim Pawlenty. TPaw probably wishes he had stayed in the race right about now, but his dropping out was exactly the sort of indication that he really didn’t have it in him anyway. With Pawlenty out and Perry in, I was fairly committed to Perry. I have not totally given up on Perry, mostly for lack of an alternative, but the torch I carry for him is nearly extinguished. I assumed that a guy who had been governor of a big state for such a long time was capable of speaking coherently on camera. To borrow a phrase, “Oops”.
Building on my earlier “Buckley rule” post, I think the task of applying the Buckley rule in this election is relatively difficult because there are a number of people who are right on the borderline of “electable”. I think Romney could probably beat Obama. I think Perry or Cain could arguably beat Obama, but either could just as easily flame out. (And besides, I am not a Cain fan.) I don’t think either Bachmann or Santorum would stand a chance against Obama. Jon Huntsman actually might, but has no chance of being the nominee. And then there’s that other guy who shall not be named for fear of flooding the blog with irrelevant comments, who is only being referenced obliquely for the sake of completeness. (Yes, perhaps even he could beat Obama. Maybe.)
So… Newt it is then? Maybe. Newt’s “skeletons” are pretty well known. Or at least his personal skeletons are known. The policy skeletons are a little scary though, and not as well explored.
If Romney’s big albatross is RomneyCare, isn’t it actually a bigger deal that Gingrich supported a Federal individual mandate back in the early 1990s? (Not to mention his support of Medicare Part-D?) Gingrich was still batting around the idea of an individual mandate in his May 2011 Meet the Press appearance. On health care, Gingrich is at least as bad as Romney. At least Romney can regurgitate his talking points about not wanting to impose a federal mandate, even if I don’t really believe him when he says it.
That’s the biggie. What else have we got?
Well, there’s his “consulting” for Freddie Mac, which may or may not pan out into anything. There’s also his “consulting” for the ethanol industry. Oh yeah, that reminds me – Newt has forayed into strikingly demagogic rhetoric about ethanol, and thinks E-15 is a no-brainer policy. And let’s not forget that Newt came out hard for Dede Scozzafava at a point when it was plainly obvious how bad a candidate she was. And yes, there’s his cooperation with Nancy Pelsoi on some glo-bull warmongering stuff, though he has since said he regrets having done that.
Almost everything that ArthurK at AoS-HQ said about Romney could be said of Newt as well. Newt would be a very competent technocrat, who we can only hope and pray would use his powers for good rather than evil. The “fatal conceit” criticism of Romney applies doubly to Newt, since, at least in my estimation, Newt is that much smarter and more confident in himself than Romney.
If pressed, I have to say I prefer Newt to Romney, but only just. While I disagree with many of the things Newt has said, done, and supported, I think he does those things mostly earnestly. I trust Newt I distrust Newt less than I distrust Romney on the matter of being generally grounded in conservative principles.
And of course, it doesn’t hurt my assessment of him that I think Newt would absolutely crush Obama in a debate.
I think I’m going to stick with Perry for the moment and see if he can’t pull out of this nosedive. Otherwise, I guess orange Newt it is, then.
* (Post title is a reference to one of my favorite films, Brain Candy)