Is Romney Surging?
Peter Lawler is Dana Professor of Government and former chair of the department of Government and International Studies at Berry College. He serves as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science, and has been chair of the politics and literature section of the American Political Science Association. He also served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and serves on the editorial boards of several journals. He has written or edited fifteen books and over 200 articles and chapters in a wide variety of venues. He was the 2007 winner of the Weaver Prize in Scholarly Letters.\r\n\r\nLawler served on President Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2004 – 09. His most recent book, Modern and American Dignity, is available from ISI Books.\r\n\r\nFollow him on Twitter @peteralawler.
Kris Broughton, a classy and eloquent BIG THINKER, is a particularly fervent defender of our president. Nonetheless, he's warming up to MITT ROMNEY. He even believes that his anti-Obama rhetoric is just that, words aiming to energize the base and nothing more Mitt, in Kris's view, might even know that our president isn't really a failure:
"I am beginning to like Mitt Romney more and more with each Republican debate, which is a mouthful for someone who often thinks the GOP should be given a time machine so they could zap themselves back to the Constitutional Convention. In fact, Romney’s political reasonableness isn’t all that different from the political reasonableness of our current Democratic president. Aside from a tendency to rail on about how he would deal with “Obamacare” and a penchant for the “Obama is a failure” phrase that is aimed squarely at the more hardcore constituents of the Republican Party, the former Massachusetts governor’s firm grasp of today’s political realities unquestionably separates him from the riffraff that comprises the rest of the slate of GOP presidential hopefuls."
Now that makes sense. Many very liberal Democrats count themselves among those dissatisfied with the President's performance. He governing like a moderate Republican (no second stimulus, still bogged down in Afghanistan etc.), they say. Many very conservative Republicans say that Romney is a flip-flopping version of Obama lite. What is Obamacare modeled on, after all, but RomneyCare?
For those who go down this road, it seems to me that Romney is clearly the better choice of moderate. Obama seems clueless right now, and people have lost confidence in him. Even with his less than three years as president, he has less CEO experience than the fabulously successful Mitt. Mitt surely has a firmer command of the foreign policy issues, not to mention of how to revise our tax code and regulatory structure to stimulate economic growth. Let's face it: He's just better on the details, on implementation.
A big difference, of course, is that Mitt would give all fifty states a waiver from Obamacare on his first day in office. But he's shown he's not at all adverse to working out some kind of more privatized, more sustainable and coherent scheme for getting as many people as possible insured. Maybe we moderates can all agree would be best to mend health care reform without altogether ending it. And we can say the same thing, of course, about Medicare and Social Security.
It seemed to me, for a long while, that the Republicans would nominate anyone but Romney. The TEA PARTIERS have been particularly hostile to him, and they will make up somewhere pretty close to half of the primary electorate. He doesn't inspire enthusiasm. And then there's the Mormon issue, with both secular libertarians and evangelicals.
But among the "top-tier" candidates Mitt ruled the debate last night. (Herman Cain won—but for now he's not a real contender.) I watched the Luntz focus group on Fox after the debate, and the group members (all Republicans and clearly quite conservative) were surging to Romney. A lot of them said they had switched either last night or in the last week. The buzz words were competence and specificity. Romney surely did display those qualities in this debate and in the others.
So Kris may get what he says he wants from the Republicans. That might not be such good news for the very vulnerable incumbent.
Kris and I agree that it's reasonable to be all for electing a president with "a firm grasp on today's political realities."
I don't agree that the other Republican candidates are "riffraff," of course.
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