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November 10, 2011

Living with the Nightmare - President Romney. [ArthurK]

Not a lot of Romney fans here, eh? Yeah, I hear ya. But it makes sense to have a Plan B.* Plan A is for our favorite candidate (SaraPerrCainRich) to drive Obama before him and hear the lamentations of Michelle. But what if that doesn't happen? What if... (dum dum dum) we're stuck with President Romney?

*Plan C is 4 More Years of Obama. Just be prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse. Most of those steps would work there.

In today's (Nov 4) GFile (email so no link) Jonah Goldberg was musing on a President Romney. Here are the relevant paragraphs (I got his permission for this extended excerpt) along with my anti-fisking (since I mostly agree with him - I just want to pile on)

(after expounding on Cain for a bit...)



I have a similar complaint about Mitt Romney. As Mark Steyn and others have pointed out, Romney has a disturbing tendency to simply take his ideas off the conventional-wisdom shelf. He lacks the conservative's skepticism that the "latest thinking" might simply be very old thinking gussied up as a breakthrough idea.

It's hard to see this tendency in him when he's in campaign mode, because it gets obscured by the pandering and positioning, but trust me, it's there.

Where I think Romney differs from Cain in this regard is that Cain's a manager. Hire a professional, motivate him, and stand back. Romney's a technocrat. He thinks that the government is there to fix things. That's what Romneycare was about, after all.

Cain is a manager. Romney thinks he can manage AND do things. He's one of the elite - he knows better. He knows about Hayek's "Fatal Conceit" theory. And thinks Hayek is right - most of the time. "I'm the exception", thinks Romney. "I'll fiddle with things just enough. A light but expert hand."

What worries me about Romney is that since he starts from the assumption that government can fix things, he thinks the way to fix things is with government. (Obviously, this is sometimes true, even according to us extremists. There are legitimate functions of government, and in those areas I can see Romney being a pretty good, even possibly great president.)

While I certainly don't like the pandering, flip-flopping, parsing, tacking, difference-splitting side of Romney, it doesn't bother me as much as it does some of my friends, for the simple reason that I don't think it tells us too much about the kind of president he would be.

Sometimes campaign styles tell us a lot about what kind of president a candidate will make, and sometimes they don't. George H. W. Bush campaigned one way, and governed another. His son pretty much campaigned the way he governed. Obama tried to campaign the way he governed but he found out that his campaign style -- promising a unicorn foal in every home, same-day soul mending, tidal prestidigitation, dragging "cynicism" out of its barca-lounger and junk-punching it for the children -- was hard to translate into a workable governing agenda.

I see Romney much more in the tradition of George H. W. Bush. He sees politics as a tacky business where you dance for the rubes so you can get the job your dad always wanted you to have.

He may have only served one term as Gov, but he's spent decades campaigning for Gov., the Senate and President. He's a smooth politician who would have been more successful had he been in state not as far-left as Mass.

The trick, therefore, for conservatives in a Romney presidency -- should it ever come to pass -- is to see Romney like a tool. I don't mean tool in the pejorative sense, like "Man, that John Kerry is a tool." I mean it in the figurative-yet-instrumental sense. Romney needs to see that his number-crunching wonkiness must be applied solely to ways to dismantle the current inefficiencies of government, not for creating new ones.

I don't think his experience at Bain Capital is all that well-suited to creating jobs in the private sector, at least not in the way he talks about it. But the ability to effectively downsize and streamline large institutions to get them refocused on their core competencies, strikes me as something we can use in the Oval Office, so long as we point him in the right direction. If he's pointed in the wrong direction, well, ugh.

And that's the key. If we get stuck with President Romney we can get much of what we want done! Here's Milton Friedman's "Create the Climate" quote again.

I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.

Romney is a normal American politician, not a wannabe tyrant. He'll be responsive to our pressure if we press hard enough. He would also be responsive to RINO pressure. It's our job to press harder.

To some extent this is already working with Obama! Here's bit from Mark Steyn's America Is Doomed essay in Commentary. (this is the optimistic part)

(same Friedman quote as above)

Just so. Every time Barack Obama stands at his teleprompter and is forced to pretend that he’s interested in deficit reduction, we have taken a step toward that Milton Friedman reality. You have to create the conditions, as the Tea Party and the town hall meetings did, whereby the wrong people are forced to do the right things.

One cannot wait for the great leader to descend from the heavens to do the work for us. Every glamour boy, from Barack Obama to Mitt Romney to Rick Perry, proves to have feet of clay. It’s more important that tens of millions of ordinary citizens move the meter on public discourse and force the wrong people to do the right things.

Yes, it would be easier to have Zombie Calvin Coolidge/Godzilla stomp all over DC and fix things but Hey! This is America! This is our country! We can fix things ourselves and, in fact, we're supposed to. We got into this mess by being lazy and allowing our elected leaders to act like Elite God Kings.

The Mayans were right. 2012 IS going to be the end of the world. The bullshit world of the nanny state! (cue ass-kicking music)

(submitted Nov 4)


Also, I tweet at @ComradeArthur

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