04 Feb 2012

Contemplating 2012

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Alf Landon

Jonathan V. Last

The best line I heard about Florida came from a despondent Erick Erikson, who quipped, “It’s like we’re facing Jimmy Carter and nominating Alf Landon.”

Now, that’s not entirely fair. After all, Landon actually won reelection as the governor of Kansas while running in a very tough year for Republicans. (Ba-dump-bump)


Sean Trende contemplates the paradox that is the 2012 election.

As the Republican primary slogs forward, supporters of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are arguing that the other candidate is “unelectable.” The reasoning regarding Gingrich tends to revolve around his horrendous favorability ratings, and a propensity for self-destruction. The rationale regarding Romney is more varied, and is well enunciated by Quin Hillyer and John Hawkins. Last Wednesday, Erick Erickson at RedState — no Romney fan — threw up his hands and declared both leading candidates unelectable. …

Arguably, we’ve never seen a situation like this before, when an unelectable incumbent draws an unelectable opponent. It’s kind of an “immovable object vs. irresistible force” scenario. In theory, neither candidate should be able to win this election, but in practice, someone must.


Strong men wept and deranged conservatives banged their foreheads against walls and trees this week, when conservatism’s sweetheart Ann Coulter defended Romneycare.

If only the Democrats had decided to socialize the food industry or housing, Romneycare would probably still be viewed as a massive triumph for conservative free-market principles — as it was at the time.

It’s not as if we had a beautifully functioning free market in health care until Gov. Mitt Romney came along and wrecked it by requiring that Massachusetts residents purchase their own health insurance. In 2007, when Romneycare became law, the federal government alone was already picking up the tab for 45.4 percent of all health care expenditures in the country.

Until Obamacare, mandatory private health insurance was considered the free-market alternative to the Democrats’ piecemeal socialization of the entire medical industry.

In November 2004, for example, libertarian Ronald Bailey praised mandated private health insurance in Reason magazine, saying that it “could preserve and extend the advantages of a free market with a minimal amount of coercion.”

A leading conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation, helped design Romneycare, and its health care analyst, Bob Moffit, flew to Boston for the bill signing.

Romneycare was also supported by Regina Herzlinger, Harvard Business School professor and health policy analyst for the conservative Manhattan Institute. Herzlinger praised Romneycare for making consumers, not business or government, the primary purchasers of health care. …
No one is claiming that the Constitution gives each person an unalienable right not to buy insurance.

States have been forcing people to do things from the beginning of the republic: drilling for the militia, taking blood tests before marriage, paying for public schools, registering property titles and waiting in line for six hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to drive.

There’s no obvious constitutional difference between a state forcing militia-age males to equip themselves with guns and a state forcing adults in today’s world to equip themselves with health insurance.

Oy, veh!


Jeff Greenfield predicts that anti-Romney conservatives will not go down without a fight, and that there’ll be plenty of battles at the GOP Convention in August.

A candidate can pick up a fair share of delegates in many states by targeting his campaign on a district-by- district basis. This also means that, statistically at least, it will be harder for Mitt Romney to wrap up the nomination early.

Finally, the rules open the door to a contentious convention, if not a contested one.

Why? Because if there’s sentiment for a fight over a platform plank, or whether convention rules outlaw winner-take- all voting, all the dissidents need is 25 percent of the votes in the respective committees — a mark the combined anti-Romney forces might well achieve. Further, if Gingrich wants his name put in nomination, all he needs is a plurality of delegates — not a majority — in five states. He already has that plurality in South Carolina and may yet pick up pluralities in four more states along the way.

If those adamantly opposed to Romney wind up with this kind of strength, it means they will have the power to start rules fights or demand the gold standard be included in the platform. They may be able to offer their own vice-presidential nominee or throw the timing of important speeches into chaos.


Jonah Goldberg looks philosophically at a possible Romney nomination.

Let me try to offer some solace. Even if Romney is a Potemkin conservative (a claim I think has merit but is also exaggerated), there is an instrumental case to be made for him: It is better to have a president who owes you than to have one who claims to own you.

A President Romney would be on a very short leash. A President Gingrich would probably chew through his leash in the first ten minutes of his presidency and wander off into trouble. If elected, Romney must follow through for conservatives and honor his vows to repeal Obamacare, implement Representative Paul Ryan’s agenda, and stay true to his pro-life commitments.

Moreover, Romney is not a man of vision. He is a man of duty and purpose. He was told to “fix” health care in ways Massachusetts would like. He was told to fix the 2002 Olympics. He was told to create Bain Capital. He did it all. The man does his assignments.

In this light, voting for Romney isn’t a betrayal, it’s a transaction. No, that’s not very exciting or reassuring for those who’d sooner see monkeys fly out their nethers than compromise again. But such a bargain may just be necessary before judgment day comes.


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