The Case for Romney

September 28th, 2011 at 5:37 pm David Frum | 118 Comments |

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In my column for The Week, I make the affirmative case for Mitt Romney to be the Republican presidential nominee:

For three years, Republican activists, strategists, and donors have tried to find a plausible alternative to Romney, and again and again they have failed. For about 15 minutes, that alternative seemed at last to have materialized in the form of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry still leads the national polls and is still raising money. Yet it’s hard to miss the loud hiss of air escaping this particular balloon.

So maybe it’s time to reconsider the long-standing frontrunner — the candidate who was more than conservative enough for party conservatives back in 2008 — and to rediscover his good points.

1) Given the dreadful economic conditions, the Democrats will have no choice in 2012 but to run a negative campaign against the Republican alternative. Message: “We may have disappointed you on jobs, but they will take away your Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance.”

Of all the Republicans in the field, Romney is least vulnerable to this line of attack. He did not associate himself with the Ryan plan to withdraw the Medicare guarantee from people under age 55. He did not denounce Social Security as a “monstrous lie.” He has not condemned the unemployed as lay-abouts.

Yes, Romney has vulnerabilities of his own in a general election, plenty of them. But at least he is not adding more. Perry, on the other hand, generates new raw material for Democratic attack ads almost every time he opens his mouth.

2) After the campaign comes the presidency. Who can believe that Rick Perry has the wherewithal to do that job? The global financial crisis still rages about us. Just ahead: Debt defaults in Europe. After that? Perhaps the popping of China’s real-estate bubble. What else? Who knows?

The person you want in that job in such a time is someone with a deep understanding of finance and economics. The U.S. is paying dearly now for electing in 2008 a president who lacked such understanding, despite many other fine qualities. As a result (as Ron Suskind now reports), economic decision-making in the Obama White House degenerated into a struggle between advisers to sway a more or less passive president.

Romney spent much of his career in financial markets. One benefit of that experience: He is less likely to be overawed by possibly self-interested actors than a less familiar president. The U.S. has had quite enough of that.

Click here to read the full column.

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118 Comments so far ↓

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    Message: “We may have disappointed you on jobs, but they will take away your Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance.” Of all the Republicans in the field, Romney is least vulnerable to this line of attack.

    Well, phasing out Medicare is the official GOP policy in the House and Senate, so one could see why Dems might say something like that.

    What has Romney said?

    http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/mitts-immediate-spending-cap-really/

    “Mitt Romney will immediately move to cut spending and cap it at 20 percent of GDP.” According to CBO, that would reduce government spending in the 2012 economy by 3% of GDP, or $476 billion. I truly can’t imagine any reasonable economist of any political stripes who doesn’t believe that would turn an already weak economy back into a recessionary economy.

    What did Romney say about the Ryan plan, now the official GOP position? http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/romney-on-gop-budget-ryan-and-i-are-on-the-same-page.php Romney On GOP Budget: Ryan And I ‘Are On The Same Page’

    Seems like Romney is somewhat vulnerable.

    To say nothing of Romney’s campaign’s fundamental reliance on the Big Lie that the president runs around “apologizing” about America, or his shamefully, willfully ignorant attack on New START. (See Sen. Lugar’s response to Romney here: http://lugar.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=326277 ).

    So, yeah, best of the GOP field? Maybe.

    But still unfit to serve.

  • balconesfault

    1. Message: “We may have disappointed you on jobs, but they will take away your Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance.”

    The Dems don’t even have to go that far. If the focus is on jobs, they can stop at “they have absolutely no plan for creating jobs that differ substantively from the Bush policies that led us to where we were in August 2008.” And then leave it up to the GOP candidate, whoever he/she may be, to describe what they’d do differently than GW Bush.

    Or they can of course run on Bush’s record of job creation outside the healthcare sector, bubble-inflated housing sector, and the government sector. Good luck with that.

    2. He did not associate himself with the Ryan plan to withdraw the Medicare guarantee from people under age 55

    http://spectator.org/blog/2011/06/02/romney-would-sign-ryan-budget#

    In an interview with ABC following his campaign announcement, Mitt Romney said that he would sign Paul Ryan’s Medicare overhaul plan if it crossed his desk.

    3. The U.S. is paying dearly now for electing in 2008 a president who lacked such understanding, despite many other fine qualities. As a result (as Ron Suskind now reports), economic decision-making in the Obama White House degenerated into a struggle between advisers to sway a more or less passive president.

    Right … because a more active President might have immediately pushed through as large a stimulus package as Congress was willing to pass, might have put measures in place that incentivized investment bankers to pay back their TARP funds rather than sit on them indefinitely, might have taken drastic and controversial action to save much of the American Auto industry from going bankrupt and causing millions of job losses right into the middle of the free-falling economy he inherited, and might have pushed for even more stimulus spending when it was clear that earlier economic analyses lowballed the 1st quarter 2009 GDP losses and that a greater stimulus was needed.

    Too bad Mitt Romney wasn’t in office to do all those things, eh?

    There is only one reason to favor Romney over Obama, if you really believe that Government has a positive role in turning the economy around (rather than just the contrapositive role of cutting regs and taxes and getting out of the way of the “inevitable” boom that would result) … Republicans who right now will fight any steps to improve the economy tooth and nail will by and large support such measures under a GOP President, and Democrats won’t intentionally make their constituents suffer over purely partical politics.

    Is that where you really want America to go?

    • think4yourself

      Balcone, that’s as good a reasoning as I have heard – both the things Obama has done and the only advantage that Romney can bring (some Republicans to action from obstructionism).

      Other than stupidity, statesmanship or a desire for being able to say “I was the President of the United States”, I can’t think of a reason why Romney would want the office. Look at John Boehner, he gets to be Speaker of the House – all it has brought him is more trouble from his own Party than from the Dems.

      Let’s say Romney wins the White House, which only happens if the unemployment rate is worse than it is today and perhaps we do sucumb to a double dip recession. Now you have to appease the Tea Partiers who helped elect you, who essentially want to close down the gov’t. The business class who helped pay for your election, who wants the gov’t to backstop and in some cases bail out big business, the GOP establishment who want you to resist the TP activists, but don’t cause their wrath to fall on the GOP establishment and finally the moderates, who want someone who won’t do anything stupid.

      Of course, what Romney wants is to win and hope that the recession finally works it’s way out of the system because of the stimulative measures already taken place and because it just takes time for these things to happen and then gets to take credit for saving the economy. Much like Bill Clinton was a beneficiary of Bush Sr.’s broken tax pledge in balancing the gov’t.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Come on, obviously Huntsman is the best, you are talking about viable candidates though and since Huntsman has shown himself not to be one (ie not crazy enough) then I am with LFC, but David is not acknowledging how Romney can win in the primaries. 4 years ago he won the Iowa straw poll and was ahead in New Hampshire, he didn’t come close to closing the deal losing both the Iowa caucus (to Huck) and NH (to McCain) and from there he was toast. Mitt has no charisma, he communicates very well, but he doesn’t connect. Hell Cain, Perry, Gingrich, etc. connect a hell of a lot better than Romney does.
    I really, really don’t know what is at the core of Mitt Romney besides an ambition to be President. Poppy Bush had the same problem, but at least he had decades of high Government experience.

    And I have no idea what Romney really believes in. I sure as hell don’t believe he would pass up 10 dollars in spending cuts for 1 dollar in tax hikes.

    Romney reminds me a lot of Kerry, they are both stiff, have a reputation for flip flopping, though Romney is not viewed as being as arrogant Kerry at least Kerry was a decorated veteran.

    The worst thing for the Republican party is if Romney wins the nomination and loses the general, it will be tea party all the time putting 2016 and likely 2020 out of reach for the Republicans as well. OTOH, as I love America I want the best Republican to be the standard bearer so it looks like it is the Mannikan Mitt.

    • CKW

      Smarg, is it you… I recognize the writing style, but it seems you changed your name.

    • lyhunt56

      My husband and I were talking about this earlier this evening — why does Romney want to be president? It really does kind of have the feel of one more thing to add to his resume. We thought of Bush 1 as well and his difficulty with the whole “vision” thing.
      Not exactly the best way to enter a presidential race — your party really does not want you as the nominee, no one knows why you want to be president, and you remind people of John Kerry or worse, the Muppet Guy Smiley (thank you Stephen Colbert).
      These hurdles could well prove to be insurmountable even with the bad economy that the current President will have to address.

      • lyhunt56

        Hmmm — okay. I think President Obama is rather conservative by nature but feels a responsibility to share the blessing of his success with others.
        Interesting that you categorize 9/11 and Katrina as economic disasters — not sure that most would see that as the ultimate effect of those events. And as I recall, it is the current President who actually had Bin Laden taken down.
        Finally, immigration and undocumented worker issuses seem to be important to you. I don’t think any Republican President will actually be able to deal with this because their respective base views the issue from a strictly emotional viewpoint (they are changing America) and not from a logical/coherent strategy. Any Republican who tries to gets shot down — Bush II and Perry.
        That is how I see it.

    • Primrose

      +1 and I’m inclined to think Romney is the best of the candidates who could win a primary (as per Frumple’s point on Huntsman).

    • JohnMcC

      Another curious equivalence between Mr Kerry and Mr Romney: They both are fluent in French.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    oh, and Shana Tova Umetukah David and all the Jewish posters here. (and non jews too I guess)
    tomorrow is ראש השנה
    So May You Be Written and Sealed for a Good Year כתיבה וחתימה טובה

  • beowulf

    Nah,, I’ll vote for Romney because I’m confident he will (in the words of an Austria-Hungarian diplomat), astonish the world with his ingratitude.

  • Saladdin

    “Mitt Romney has no soul.” Mike Huckabee 2008. I cannot think of a more disparaging remark from a Basptist minister. I tend to agree with him. Not that he has no soul, but rather his startling lack of principles. Even for a politician he’s especially bad.

  • overshoot

    “The person you want in that job in such a time is someone”

    … who can prove once and for all that government is the problem, not the solution.

  • overshoot

    “he’s not stupid, he’s not willfully ignorant, and her’s certainly not crazy.”

    But he’s smart enough to fake it.

    If elected, he has two alternatives: govern as though he’s sane (and do it with the active opposition of the Republicans in Congress) or put up a sign in the Oval Office:

    WWMBD? (What would Michele Bachmann do?)

    Because they’ll never really believe that he’s not faking it, he’ll have to be even crazier than the genuine crazies. We can see that happening now. He might (or might not) be able to get elected without the insanity vote, but he’ll never be able to do anything without their cooperation and he’ll CERTAINLY never get a second term without proving that he’s Sally Kern with a Y chromosome.

  • overshoot

    History may not repeat, but it certainly rhymes.

    • Oldskool

      Ordinarily I might have some sympathy with the Romney argument, but the differences between the parties are so stark that there’s really no excuse.

  • beowulf

    “Mitt Romney will immediately move to cut spending and cap it at 20 percent of GDP.”
    1. Take debt service off budget (Tsy can mint platinum coinage in any denomination and use it to pay debt service on public, Tsy and govt-held debt), that would take a bit over 4% of GDP in spending off-budget.
    2. Zero out $1.3 Trillion in tax expenditures (and probably another $500B or so in federal subsidy spending at the same time) and replace it with a negative income tax. Cap Weinberger (then Ford’s HEW Secretary) Income Supplement Program from the 70s is a fine template. Since perhaps only half of that would still be on-budget spending (as refundable tax credits), it would reduce govt spending by approx 6%. The budgetary accounting for tax credits is rather elastic, but normally only credits refunded over and above taxes paid count as spending. On the other hand, since credits are never appropriated in any event, Congress could with a straight face not count any of it as spending.
    3. Since as economy improves, automatic stabilizer spending will ebb back to around 20%, the 10% (or 16%!) of GDP freed up ($1.5T or $2.4T) would more than pay for Medicare for All, universal day care (or at parents’ election, equivalent amount of FICA payroll contributions for homemakers) and increased infrastructure spending.

    Edit: To save David’s intern the trouble, here are links to info about Weinberger’s ISP: (“The proposal ensured that a ‘family would no longer both pay taxes and receive benefits at the same time, but instead would have either a tax liability or eligibility for a transfer’.”).
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb3356/is_4_53/ai_n28809872/pg_6/
    http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000092086

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      Well, that’s nice in theory, beowulf, but Romney isn’t going to propose a negative income tax. He’s just talking about “capping”. And what happened when Nixon heeded Milton Friedman’s advice and did so 40 years ago?

      http://www.city-journal.org/2011/21_1_income-tax.html

      when Richard Nixon proposed an NIT in 1972, Republican legislators flatly rejected it, seeing it solely as an encouragement for people to stay on the dole. Prejudice and emotion had trumped knowledge.

      I am not of the view that the GOP has become less likely to allow prejudice and emotion to trump logic in the intervening decades.

      And that gets to the larger issue here, of why we can’t vote for Romney. Even if we ignore his determinedly ignorant statements on, say, New START and the president’s nonexistent apologies, and we imagine him to be the competent technocrat of days of yore. Once President Romney comes into office– in addition to the points raised above by overshoot about pleasing the base with his policies– he’ll have to staff the executive branch.

      Where will he go for competent, sensible, Republican officials?

      The Heritage Foundation long since ceased to be a think tank, instead churning out stuff about how tax cuts reduce the deficit and how patriotic and insightful Rush and Hannity are. Ask David Frum about the intellectual climate at AEI. The youthful energy in the GOP comes from folks like Allen West and Rand Paul, who think the federal government shouldn’t exist except insofar as it can torture Muslims.

      Imagine tens of thousands of Rand Pauls, a sprinkling of Dragonflys, and whoever’s churning out op-eds for the Wall Street Journal these days staffing every level of the federal bureaucracy. It’ll make the Bush Jr. administration look like Eisenhower.

      So, sure, there are thoughtful effective, creative ways a theoretical conservative might raise revenues, pursue stimulative policies, work to balance the budget. But those theoretical conservatives aren’t in today’s Republican Party.

      • beowulf

        The second link I just added has the HEW (as HHS was called before Carter gave teachers the DoE) report on Weinberger’s 1974 ISP plan, its much less well known than Moynihan’s earlier Family Assistance Plan (FAP) but it was far broader. FAP was tacked onto existing federal programs like ISP would have zeroed out all federal income support spending (which doesn’t, nor should it, include Social Security or VA pensions) including food stamps, Sect. 8, tax credits and the means-tested SSI program. It did have a work requirement (sect. 2 at link) and unlike FAP it was endorsed by Milton Friedman.

        If nothing else by funding govt subsidies through tax code, it would eliminate the need to keep separate bureaucracies (at both federal and state level) to determine eligibility– each with with a different criteria– and administer existing welfare spending. By supersizing Weinberger’s plan by replacing tax expenditures as well as welfare spending, it would eliminate the economic distortion created by the special interest tax subsidies responsible for subprime mortgages, green energy blue sky schemes and dozens of more obscure boondoggles.

      • gocart mozart

        So, sure, there are thoughtful effective, creative ways a theoretical magic pony might raise revenues, pursue stimulative policies, work to balance the budget.
        just as likely

  • MattP

    As Frumplestiltskin suggested, what about Huntsman? I am assuming the reason he has been written off by David Frum and not promoted heavily by the site is the simple fact that he is not seen as a top-tier candidate with a chance of winning. But if we were to look at candidates on their merits and not poll-standings, how is Huntsman not the tailor-made “Frum Forum candidate”?

    These were David Frum’s words in a recent “Financial Time” article:

    “I wanted to create a forum where people who believed in markets and limited government could also stand up for a different kind of Republicanism that was socially modern, environmentally responsible and economically inclusive.”

    Doesn’t Jon Huntsman fit every checkbox that a Frum Forum Republican could want?
    -He is sufficiently mainstream conservative, but
    -He supports civil unions and is generally seen as gay-friendly by GOP standards
    -He talks unashamedly about the need for the GOP to be aligned with science, he talks about the need to address man-made climate change, he keynotes dinners for the Republicans for the Environmental Protection, etc.
    -He was the only candidate to support the Boehner debt compromise
    -He doesn’t demonize President Obama, and he counts his answering a Democratic president’s call-to-service as a asset, not a liability
    -His general campaign message is that he is a mainstream, electable conservative who wants the GOP to be a big-tent party that welcomes moderates and embraces a modern agenda.

    Call me crazy, but I’ll say it again: Jon Huntsman is the Frum Forum candidate from central casting.

    • balconesfault

      The Frum Gang was banging the drum for Huntsman pretty damn loud a month or two back.

      Then they started to see Perry pick up momentum, and their desperation grew.

      I suspect one major reason they’re turning back towards supporting Romney is that on too many issues, Huntsman and Obama seem closer together than Huntsman and Romney … and continuing to tout Huntsman just keeps pointing out how much Romney has embraced the crazy in order to chase the nomination.

      • gocart mozart

        on too many issues, Huntsman and Obama seem closer together than Huntsman and Romney

        Really! Please explain because I think this view is strange and you normally seem pretty reasonable.

    • indy

      I think they briefly had a thing for him, but then kind of saw the writing on the wall. I actually think that if Huntsman polled with any sort of even tepid support, they would support him more. As it is, though…

      • overshoot

        Actually, the Truth That Must Not Be Mentioned is that the best moderate Republican with a chance of becoming President in 2013 is Barack Obama.

        • rubbernecker

          “Actually, the Truth That Must Not Be Mentioned is that the best moderate Republican with a chance of becoming President in 2013 is Barack Obama.”

          Exactly. As many posters have noted, Romney doesn’t even have the courage to defy the rabid Tea Party minority; why would we expect him to lead? (Obama, of course, routinely dismays the Democratic base, and yes, even during the 2008 campaign–for example, Obama’s yes vote on the expansion of federal surveillance bill.) Until the GOP disowns its lunatic fringe Republicans in power will be a drag on the nation. Meanwhile, Obama has ruled as a level-headed centrist during a time of utter havoc exacerbated by a disloyal opposition, and he bagged Osama bin Laden to boot.

          Yet in this cycle, it may be the case that the best choice for Republicans and the country is the one that has been waiting there all along. Yes: it’s Obama.

        • balconesfault

          Yeah, someone should buy Rockstar a new drum.

  • ottovbvs

    Frum’s chronicle of desperation. Romney is the only one eyed man in the land of the blind so he’s the default candidate. Yeah I know he’s a relentless panderer, but he’s not totally crazy. What a testimonial.

    “We may have disappointed you on jobs, but they will take away your Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance.”

    Er…well isn’t that the Republican plan?

  • armstp

    Romney has the best chance at beating Obama, but he is extremely vulnerable on so many levels. His “flip-flopping” on so many issues alone will destroy him with Independents. The Democrats will only have to fire-up those old Ted Kennedy ads on Romney being a job killer and not a job creator and that will neuter him on jobs. It will be too easy to turn this election into a focus on Romney instead of Obama or at least make it a choice election rather than an election just on Obama’s record.

    The central problem is the old devil we know as opposed to the devil we do not know. In addition, the big problem for the GOP, including Romney, is they have not articulated a plan to help improve the economy. The only plan they have destroys medicare and does nothing for jobs, certainly no more than the same old Bush economic “plan” or policies, which got us here.

    However, Romney’s favorability ratings are not bad.

    Last poll says 45% favorable and 35% unfavorable.

    http://www.pollingreport.com/r.htm#Romney

    Similar to Obama, but Romney has had the advantage of not having to make any tough decisions over the last bunch of years.

    Obama’s last favorability poll said:

    Favorable 46% Unfavorable 48%

    ***
    ***

    The most interesting article on the GOP front runners in a while is by Nate Silver. He looks at how much the GOP candidates lie based on PolitiFact fact checking.

    See:

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/a-look-at-politifact-grades-of-candidates/

    In all the recent statements by the GOP contenders, apparently Bachman lies 80% of the time. Santorum 71%. Cain 58%. Gingrich 52%. Perry 49%. Romney 36%. Paul 24%. and Huntsman 14%.

    Versus Obama lying 29%.

    It is astonding that Bachman gets away with lying 80% of the time. Truly amazing.

  • abc123

    I actually like Romney himself who has shown a more moderate approach historically, but he will have to abandon all that to make tea partiers happy.

  • chicago_guy

    Romney’s greatest weakness is that he has all the courage of a teenage boy.

    Not a teenage boy ready to enlist and fight, as many did in WW II, but a prep school elite who’ll bow and scrape to the most odious figures on campus, in the hopes that they’ll still support him for class president. Worse than that, he’s so weak, he’ll even try to convince himself that they’re not really THAT bad after all.

    If we ever ONCE saw him say “yeah, I passed universal health care in Massachusetts – what the f___ have YOU done?”, he’d have proved a willingness to challenge those on his right, but he never does that. Instead he acts as if Mr Nobody was sitting in the Governor’s chair all those years, and that boy, that Mr Nobody was a bad, bad governor.

    The flip-flopping, blah blah blah, will be a bigger impediment to the Republican primary voter than the to the general public, but his total lack of courage to take on and challenge the wing nut element of his party now should make the nation concerned, since in an internecine political fight, Cantor and McConnell will roll him like a hayseed at a carnival midway.

    He’s the second best of a bad lot (Huntsman at least seems to be comfortable with who he is), but Romney’s winning the general election could be a disaster of Hooveresque proportions for the GOP.

    • anniemargret

      Absolutely spot on, Chicago_guy. You nailed it.

      It doesn’t matter a whit if Romney is ‘smart’ or if Huntsman is ‘fair and balanced.’ What is patently true is that the Republican party is being led by its nose by a group of noisy nasty negativists, who want it and want it NOW!

      The TPs are the death knell for the GOP. They are the true leaders’ and we all know whichever Republican candidate finally gets the nod, they will have to kowtow to their demands and insane hostage-taking.

      Any group that is still getting a nod who almost brought this country to its knees with the debt ceiling fiasco is not a group to be trusted, or honored.

      The GOP has neither the guts or the temperament to throw the bums out. Include Romney in that.

      • Grace

        Absolutely. It’s why I can’t consider any of them — one is as beholden as the next to whatever belches out of the loons’ imagination. And I think Romney would be even more beholden to the crazies than Perry or Christie (were he to get in), just on the basis that each of them has at least challenged TP dogma on one hot button issue. (Perry with the Texas version of the Dream Act, Christie with the appointment of a Muslim judge.) I’d see Perry as having more wiggle room to thwart the looniest of their initiatives than Romney, except for the fundie ones.

        Does anyone think Romney would veto a hard-right bill or budget? Does anyone think Romney wouldn’t happily agree to let James Dobson pick the judges? Does anyone think he wouldn’t sign the order to bomb Iran into glass? No, no, and no.

        I don’t know why the base worries so much about his flip-flopping. As the ultimate panderer, he’d sign onto anything a GOP Congress puts on his desk in fear that doing otherwise might cost him a vote for re-election.

        • anniemargret

          True, true and true. Republicans have reached into the depths, and appear to like it there.

          They’ll be voted out in 2012, and then spend the next four years trying to get Christie to be the Ultimate Candidate.

      • lyhunt56

        I wish you would review some of your comments before posting them. I think people would listen to you more if you would give up the need to be so Limbaughish.
        Just a thought.

      • Primrose

        One might even call them nattering, nabobs of negatism, AnnieMargaret.

  • rbottoms

    Romney: I’m not Teabagger simpleton, but I play one on TV.

    Perry: What was the question?

    • CKW

      More correct, hasn’t sucked this bad since Hoover and it took a Roosevelt (D) to clean up that mess, just like it is taking a (D) to clean up the current (R)’s mess.

      • anniemargret

        Jimmy Carter is a great American and a great humanitarian. Instead of sitting on his laurels, (or cleaning out the brush on the ranch), he and his wife have worked tirelessly for people who are needy and wanting.

        They are what’s left of the true Christian in America….doing, and not just saying, or playing politics with God-talk.

  • Rocketship7

    America needs a Stephen Harper. Calm, principled, competent conservative.

  • overshoot

    Probably so — but how many of us will he have to fire to make the country worth buying?

  • nuser

    “the loud hiss escaping his balloon” , could we apply this to Conrad Black as well?
    Funny, Mr. Frum. By the way , why have you not commented on the latest settlement in
    Israel , really Palestine?

  • Holmes

    When Frum knowingly writes bald-faced lies about Romney’s policy positions which you all have thoroughly documented here, there is no choice but to doubt Frum’s intellectual integrity.

  • Polifan

    Huntsman is the obvious choice. Romney would be my second choice. I still think there is a misreading of the needs of Independents and they will decide who is elected in 2012.

    Afterall, this is about jobs and the economy. Rewind to 2008, and what was it about?

    • Polifan

      I agree Romney is sharp. However, Huntsman’s appeal shouldn’t be overlooked.

    • overshoot

      “I still think there is a misreading of the needs of Independents and they will decide who is elected in 2012.”

      By and large, independents aren’t. Per research, most self-identified “independents” consistently vote for the same party from one election to the next. What they ARE is less likely to vote in the first place.

      So pursuing the “independent vote” is a sucker game. It’s much smarter to work at getting your base — the ones who WILL vote for you — to the polls. That was Reagan’s big contribution to American politics: screw the independents, pander to your base. Get them angry, get them steamed up, and get them to the polls.

      This generation’s contribution is the rediscovery of an older tactic: make sure that the other side DOESN’T get to the polls.

  • Polifan

    Has to be smarg?

  • Steve D

    Romney is the best game in town.

    I really wanna see the Religious Right nutjobs try to explain to the whole world why Mormonism is a cult but Bible Belt pseudo-Christianity isn’t.

    • Primrose

      Yeah, don’t take that bet. Mormonism has some funny quirks that if explained in a certain tone, make it sound weirder than the average religion. I’m not saying Mormons are actually any weirder than any other religion, but they sound a little eccentric to the average person.

  • Arms Merchant

    Guess Frum is off his Huntsman jag now.

    • overshoot

      He’s regained some hope that a Republican might actually win, so he’s willing to toss purity for pragmatism.

  • Primrose

    “But if we were to look at candidates on their merits and not poll-standings”

    If we were to look at candidates on the merits, would we be discussing any of them really be there? Certainly very few. I feel for Mr. Huntsman, his sanity shines through in the fog but they seem to like the fog.

  • veritas_faust

    David,

    First Happy New Year!

    And while we are on the subject of religion I am curious as to how the fact that the man is a Mormon will affect his performance in the Southern U.S. primaries?

    Someone who tracks the primary calender better hopefully can enlighten me as to how he will appeal to a population that is largely fundamentalist Christian. They do not consider the LDS church to be valid, and have harsh words for it.

    Romney has embraced (publicly) his faith so it seems impossible to back down from it. And when you consider the deep and persistent paranoia that Obama is a secret Muslim I have to believe its a heavy burden to shed.

    Personally I could care less what the man believes in as it has nothing to do with my opinions on his leadership abilities. But that enlightened view isn’t shared by many who he will rely on for support.

    So while he may be the most qualified (or not, depending on your view) the ability to survive the primary season without a serious challenger hanging on and surpassing him (Santorum or Huntsman probably) is something I would take odds on.

    • overshoot

      And while we are on the subject of religion I am curious as to how the fact that the man is a Mormon will affect his performance in the Southern U.S. primaries?

      It sure won’t help. The big question is whether it will turn off enough of the Religious Right to make a difference in the general election, since although a lot of Southerners will hold their noses while voting for him they’ll do it anyway rather than have a coon in the White House for another four years.

  • armstp

    Romney: “Corporations are people, my friend.”

    • Carney

      Yeah, THAT wasn’t out of context.

      What ARE they made up of, armstp? Aliens? Animals? Robots?

      A corporation is people who (whether they realize it or not) came together freely and voluntarily to do more together than they could have alone.

      Attacks on “corporations” thus hurt people.

      • ottovbvs

        “Yeah, THAT wasn’t out of context.”

        Actually it wasn’t out of context. As it happens I don’t disagree with his sentiment in the broadest sense but claiming he’s being quoted out of context is simply wrong.

      • armstp

        Most people would not consider corporations to be considered “People”. They are legal entities set-up to limit liability as they pursue commerce.

        His second sentence:

        “Of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people.”

        So he is basicially saying that you cannot raise taxes on corporations (because he was answering a heckler that had the gaul to suggest that we should roll-back tax breaks for corporations) because people work for them and own them. Great, so why not elimnate all taxes, as people pay all taxes? What a moronic response by Romney.

        Life is not only or all about money, the economy and corporations. Corporatists like yourself may disagree, but there is more to life.

        *
        *
        *

        John Steinbeck said: “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

      • Demosthenes

        Actually, if you want to get technical, legally speaking corporations are persons but not people. That is why the 14th Amendment has been applied to corporations, because they are considered legal persons. But only individual human beings are people.

        Regardless, it is difficult for me to understand why publicly-traded corporations should not be taxed if they want to do business in the United States, particularly if any of their shareholders are not American citizens.

      • Watusie

        Well then, if corporations = people, then we must attribute to them the same unlimited financial, civil and criminal liability that we do to people. But wait! you say, that is why corporations were invented in the first place, to avoid these things and therefore encourage enterprise!! Yes, I say, and now do you see the nub of the problem?…..

      • Primrose

        I think the bigger problem with Mr. Romney saying that is that is stands behind the decision that gives corporations so much power in the political arena. If you are worried about corporate power in Washington, he would be the last guy to pick.

    • Primrose

      That would make them groups of people, not people.

  • PracticalGirl

    Who, then, corrects all the wrongs wrought by the Republicans?

    You epitomize what’s wrong with American politics.

  • Carney

    Just call him Obama for goodness sake.

  • zaybu

    “war was declared on us, then we were attacked.”

    Saddam Hussein declared war on us.? Who would have thunk?

  • Southern Populist

    I would be more disappointed that Obama is crashing and burning if from 2008 to 2010 he had closed Gitmo, not signed the Patriot Act, ended the Forever Wars, stood up to Wall Street and stood up the Military Industrial Complex.

    - DSP

    • Carney

      Contemporary paleo-conservatives and especially paleo-libertarians have a lot more in common with the left than the right, not only on national security and social issues, but increasingly on economics as well. That’s why it’s so stupid for Ron Paul followers to call other Republicans “RINO” or call themselves or their candidate “true conservatives”.

    • Southern Populist

      The smartest left-liberals caught on to this phony a while back. Cornel West is an example. He said this about Obama.

      Obama is “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”

      - DSP

      • Watusie

        LOL – yes, DSP, I’m certain that you’ve always been a close follower of Cornel West and have great respect for his opinions on everything.

        • Southern Populist

          I do, actually. I follow the whole spectrum.

        • ottovbvs

          Some posters here can literally evoke involuntary roars of laughter. Jimbo, Springy, and Willy P hit the button occasionally as has DSP. But this invocation of West is definitely his best yet. Cornel West, secret object of DSP’s admiration. How illuminating.

        • medinnus

          Cornel West has made the allegation, which either stands on its own merits or doesn’t, regardless of whether or not DSP follows West. Either address the substance of the charge, or don’t – but ad hominim remarks on DSP are irrelevant to the issue at hand.

        • ottovbvs

          “but ad hominim remarks on DSP are irrelevant to the issue at hand.”

          Oh the source of the opinion is totally irrelevant? So you personally would regard say the opinions of Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly as equivalent in weight to those say of Ben Bernanke and Hilary Clinton? Interesting value judgement system?

        • medinnus

          Yes, the source is pretty much irrelevant, unless it speaks to credibility. Don’t put words in my mouth; you’re smart enough to know what I meant without trying to misrepresent it, and its unworthy of you.

          I was not addressing West’s credibility – everyone can search and read and research and make up their own minds. But somehow disparaging DSP for quoting it? Please. Either address the quote – including the source’s credibility – and its merits or lack thereof, but I repeat – the ad hominim attack on DSP is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

        • ottovbvs

          “But somehow disparaging DSP for quoting it? Please.”

          Organ grinder…monkey?

          “Yes, the source is pretty much irrelevant, unless it speaks to credibility.”

          You don’t think a mountebank like Cornel West as a source speaks to DSP’s cred? I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree even if it’s unworthy of me.

        • Primrose

          I am not aware the Cornel West is mountebank. He is a highly respected professor and while I don’t feel he is being fair to Mr. Obama. DSP is perfectly reasonable to quote him. On the other hand, I do think it is fair to ask him if he believes in Mr. West’s larger philosophical view since pulling quotes if one doesn’t believe in the view that informed them is a questionable practice.

        • Primrose

          +1 medinnus

      • Primrose

        Yeah but he has a personal thing against Mr. Obama because his mother couldn’t get a ticket to the inauguration. And Mr. Obama would never seriously have gotten Mr. West’s approval in the long run.

        I think you can legitimately criticize Mr Obama for signing the patriot act, but Iraq is ending and we are pulling more out of Afghanistan than the mmilitary desires. It is not going at the speed many wanted, but extricated oneself from such messes may very well be more difficult than it seemed on the campaign trail. I always thought that.

        But I think we must give him a pass on Gitmo. Once Congress freaked out about bringing them on US soil, I don’t know what could be done. You can’t just release everybody willy-nilly. Do I think Congress was right? No. We have an institute a few towns over for the criminally insane. It houses a guy who wears people’s skin as a hat and I’m told Son of Sam. I have never heard of a prison break. Frankly, I think we should have had that trial in New York City too. The very idea someone responsible for 911 could escape court was laughable. OK, he escapes and goes where? Into the loving arms of New Yorkers? Even if managed to get over the bridge or the tunnel without being torn apart, then he faces all the counties filled with Wall Street commuters, firefighters and police.

        But once the opposition make it impossible, your stuck.

    • Southern Populist

      To be sure, the man is a phony on many levels. Cornel West’s observations about Obama are very astute. Despite getting half his genes from a Black man, the facts of Obama’s life place him outside the experience of Black America.

      Obama, coming out of Kansas influence, white, loving grandparents, coming out of Hawaii and Indonesia, when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive,” West said. “He has a certain rootlessness, a deracination. It is understandable.” – Cornel West

      • ottovbvs

        “Cornel West’s observations about Obama are very astute.”

        Oh boy, Cornel West is DSP’s “go to” guy on racial and social issues. Like to give us a few more choice samplings of your buddy Cornel’s opinionating DSP?

        Here’s a little sampler just in case DSP is too coy…I’m sure he agrees totally with these opinions.

        Views on race in America

        West has called the U.S. a “racist patriarchal” nation where “white supremacy” continues to define everyday life. “White America,” he writes, “has been historically weak-willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks.” This has resulted, he claims, in the creation of many “degraded and oppressed people hungry for identity, meaning, and self-worth.” Professor West attributes most of the black community’s problems to “existential angst derive[d] from the lived experience of ontological wounds and emotional scars inflicted by white supremacist beliefs and images permeating U.S. society and culture.”

        In West’s view, the September 11, 2001 attacks gave white Americans a glimpse of what it means to be a black person in the United States—feeling “unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hatred” for who they are. ”

        Don’t you DSP?

        • Watusie

          Upstream, I posted this: “LOL – yes, DSP, I’m certain that you’ve always been a close follower of Cornel West and have great respect for his opinions on everything.

          DSP responded “I do, actually. I follow the whole spectrum.”

          So, yes, I take it that DSP was aware of the viewpoints you just posted and doesn’t think they disqualify West from being taken seriously.

        • ottovbvs

          “I’m certain that you’ve always been a close follower of Cornel West and have great respect for his opinions on everything.

          DSP responded “I do, actually.”

          Nice to have it confirmed that DSP has “great respect” for the opinions of Cornel West. He’s probably also a great fan of Al Sharpton. Wow who’d have thought it. I’m obviously going to have to take the opinions of DSP much more seriously in future.

      • rubbernecker

        These remarks from both DSP and West are breathtaking. Loving grandparents are a white prerogative? Before Obama became a public figure, white people divined his exotic background, thus sparing him the indignities of racism? On what basis does West assert that Obama feels “apprehensive” when engaged with “independent” (?) African Americans descended from slaves or familiar with Jim Crow?

        I call BS.

      • Primrose

        But the experience of Black America is not monolithic. Do the Black descendants of Cherokee slaves have exactly

        He is very much in tradition of bi-racial children. I doubt he was the only Black person The same history and culture as someone who grew up in Harlem. No. How about those who grew up in “Free” black towns like Freetown Virginia or Zora Neal Hurston’s Eatonville Florida. No, of course not.

        There are plenty of experiences he did share. And I doubt should he have visited a wealthy, white friend that any over-zealous neighborhood watch would have stopped him to ask, excuse me sir, are you actually African-American because then I’ll have to ask you to leave, but otherwise I’m sure you are OK.

        A number of people have accused him of being a phony because he doesn’t call himself bi-racial but black. Well, I have a number of bi-racial friends of similar age, maybe a tad younger, and they all had to choose. Or rather their skin chose for them. If they were really, really, really light, they could choose white. A few others could pretend to be Cuban or something. But most were considered Black like it or lump it by everyone, even if they had no connection to the larger community.

        And now, that it’s become a bit more hip to be bi-racial, he’s supposed to change? That really would seem phony and get a lot of calls of forgetting where he came from from no less a personage than Cornel West.

  • zaybu

    Anybody knows who Owebummer is?

  • LaLupa

    It is clear from the article that Mr. Frum is only interested in winning elections and not governing or addressing the problems facing our country. How can anyone look at Romney’s record as governor of MA and vote for him for POTUS? Or should I say, how can anyone WHO CARES about our country look at Romney’s record as governor and vote for him? 47th in job creation. The unemployment rate dropped only because people left the state of MA while he was governor. Whatever “business experience” Romney has it did not translate into a successful gorvernorship. That is why he did not run for re-election.

  • AllisonCay

    “The U.S. is paying dearly now for electing in 2008 a president who lacked such understanding, despite many other fine qualities.”

    What are these “many other fine qualities” Mr. Frum? Unlike many on the far right who view my president as the devil himself, I am not so hot and bother about him. But on the other hand I see a tendency for people like Mr. Frum to not want to ruffle any sensibilities. Perhaps Mr. Furm is just being polite or diplomatic. But for me, Obama has shown little but an ability to deliver canned rhetoric with passion, and little more. And yes, he seems to be a good family man, which matters I agree. So he does have some fine qualities, yes, but “many”? That may be a stretch.

    • Watusie

      Just off the top of my head:

      1) He redirected the intelligence services and military to enable them to find OBL, after the previous administration had told them to give up on the task. There are quite a few fine qualities on display there – good judgement, good leadership, and perhaps most of all, a desire to see justice done for the American people.

      2) He played a crucial role in the toppling of Gaddafi. Which once again = justice for the American people. Gaddafi was undeniably behind the Lockerbie bombing which killed 183 people. His crimes against this country were greater than those of Saddam Hussein. But yet bizarrely, under Bush, we chose to make friends with Gaddafi and spend trillions of dollars and thousands of lives toppling the lesser evil. Now contrast that with what Obama achieved in getting rid of Gaddafi without putting a single boot on the ground and by getting other countries to foot most of the bill. Qualities on display: intelligence, leadership, diplomacy, and judgment.

      3) He got the ACA passed, which is already delivering tangible benefits. I read last week that the number of young people now covered by private health insurance is up by more than 1 million over the previous year. Quality on display: good governance.

      4) He stopped the worst financial crisis in a generation from tipping over into an all-out depression. Quality on display: good governance.

      5) He has put up with 2.5 years of Hitler/Stalin/Mao slanders and nihilistic Republic obstructionism, sabotage, and hostage taking without loosing his faith in the political process laid out in our constitution. Quality on display: the patience of a saint.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Regarding corporations are people, citgo is a company owned by the Venezuelan government, which is controlled by Hugo Chavez, so therefore Romney is in bed with Hugo Chavez. Romney therefore must be a commie secret agent hey, he lived in France, smoke cigarettes like a frenchman, he even speaks french, which proves he ain’t a real American.
    Romney is EVIL, evil I tells ya. Beneath that robotic exterior lies the heart of a robot but a robot programmed for evil.

  • Dragonfly

    I agree, Bush Sr. was well qualified – but, the cold war was over, so the central issue of that time wasn’t in line with someone who had those qualifications.

    The central issue of today is the economy, and Romney is the most qualified for that job.

  • Southern Populist

    Somebody to fix the comments code. I can no longer follow this discussion.

    - DSP

  • You’re Not Selling Me – Textual Fisticuffs

    [...] Not Selling Me Frum has written a “lesser of several evils” style defense of Mitt Romney, some of which is worthwhile. I take issue with a couple of points, though: The global financial [...]

  • Southern Populist

    Otto and Watusie:

    Take it up with Cornel West. He is one example among many of left-liberals turning on Obama.

    When an Obama proxy loses in a heavily liberal district in Queens, it’s evidence many liberals in addition to West are rejecting Obama.

    Obama is bleeding support among all groups except his unprincipled partisan core. The principled and consistent left-liberals who actually expected him to govern like a genuine liberal see him for the phony that he is. Many centrists and Independents abandoned him in ’10 and are likely to do so again in ’12 given polling trends.

    - DSP

  • balconesfault

    Personally, I would have expected Cornel West being upset with Obama as a sign for folks like DSP that Obama’s doing something right.

    I’m next expecting to read Hugo Chavez’s critiques of Obama …

    • kuri3460

      Bingo.

      To conservatives, Obama is too liberal. To liberals, he’s too conservative.

      Somebody’s wrong, and it’s not Cornell West, who, by the way, I don’t see voting for Rick Perry.

  • Rob_654

    Romney is clearly the Republican to choose if you want to have someone who won’t appear crazy to moderates.

    The interesting thing about Romney in a general election is what will people do in these hard times when the ads start running about the number of Americans that Romney and his company laid off, sent their jobs overseas when they took over companies and yet turned millions to tens of millions into profits for themselves…

  • balconesfault

    Great bit on Romney via Jonathan Chait:

    I believe Jonathan Last put it best: “Mitt Romney would have been a career politician too, if only voters would have let him.” The man lost a Senate race in 1994, eked out a win for governor in 2002, abandoned his office in 2006 when polls showed him trailing, and lost a presidential race in 2008, from which he’s been running continuously since.

  • TJ Parker

    Yes, but will Romney as President acknowledge obedience only to Jesus Christ and the Constitution? or will he bow to “Prophet” Monson, Poobah of Moroni, at the Big Temple in Salt Lake City and the religion of Joe the Prophet, killed when jailed for attempting to overthrow the United States government?

    Welcome to Deseret.

  • jg bennet

    romney’s biggest threat will be the anti mormon propaganda that will spread like wildfire.

    here is a taste of what will be coming and why an independent may very well be the choice of evangelicals.

    i’m not a mormon or a christian but i am anti bigotry and if it is mitt the bigot flags will be waving high.

    THERE IS THIS, THE OLD CONSTITUTION HANGING BY A THREAD MORMON THING THAT WILL GET THE JESUS FREAKS GROWLING & PARANOID
    http://www.mrm.org/white-horse-prophecy

    THEN THERE ARE THE BOOKS & TALKING HEADS

    Are you of the opinion that a Mormon should never be elected President?

    Yes, it is my opinion that an indoctrinated Mormon should never be elected as President of the United States of America. Indoctrinated temple Mormons (as Romney is) have experienced years of brainwashing and indoctrination and also have made covenants and oaths that they plainly cannot disobey.

    Mitt Romney and all temple Mormons have sworn to obey The Law of Consecration in the secret temple ceremonies which states “You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at the altar, the you do accept the Law of Consecration as contained in The Doctrine and Covenants (a Mormon book), in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, an everything with which the Lord has bless you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), for the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth and for the establishment of Zion.” http://inthearena.blogs.cnn.com/2011/08/03/tricia-erickson-an-indoctrinated-mormon-should-never-be-elected-as-president-2/ ………………

    if mitt wins the nomination it is going to get ugly and obama will probably win unless we get an indy in the race.

  • nhthinker

    Frum finally sees the light. I pointed him there over 6 months ago. ;)

    Romney’s biggest trouble is his lack of rhetoric villifying parts of Wall Street.

    Romney’s potential Achilles’ heel is not RomneyCare- but it’s actually that he is seen as too much a friend of Wall Street.

    I’ll try to get him to address it when I see him.

  • nhthinker

    http://www.frumforum.com/frum-blogs-romneys-no-apology

    As a flip-flopper on Romney, Frum nails the triple somersault.