December 30th, 2011

So, what would Romney do…

…if he were elected president?

I’ve read many comments (at this blog and other sites) like this one from “geran” on the subject:

The worse habit of a ‘True Conservative’ is a certain disconnect with reality of any sort.

I’m that “True Conservative” that does not like the reality. We have spent ourselves into oblivion. About 50% of the country does not know how many States there are, or any science, or history.

And, we are hoping a wishy-washy Massachusetts liberal, claiming to be a Conservative to get elected, can save us.

There’s some reality for you….

I think I understand where that commenter’s coming from. As I’ve said many many times, Romney would not be my choice if I had my druthers. But I don’t, because my picks aren’t running.

I also don’t think Romney is merely claiming to be a conservative to get elected, and that he’s really a closet liberal. What do I think is so conservative about him? Well, his entire personal and private life, and his career right up to his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, a post he held for only four years. Take a look, especially at his private and personal life (a few choice excerpts follow), and tell me whether the following sounds like a liberal:

[Growing up,] Romney idolized his father, read automotive trade magazines, kept abreast of automotive developments, and aspired to be an executive in the industry himself one day…In March of his senior year [of high school], he began dating Ann Davies [who is still his wife], two years behind him, whom he had once known in elementary school…The two informally agreed to marriage around the time of his June 1965 graduation…

Romney attended Stanford University for a year. Although the campus was becoming radicalized with the beginnings of 1960s social and political movements, he kept a well-groomed appearance and enjoyed traditional campus events. In May 1966, he was part of a counter-protest against a group staging a sit-in in the university administration building in opposition to draft status tests. He worked as a security guard again in order to fund secret trips home to see Ann…

In July 1966, Romney left for 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary, a traditional duty that his father and other relatives had done. He arrived in Le Havre with ideas about how to change and promote the French Mission, while facing physical and economic deprivation in their cramped quarters. Rules against drinking, smoking, and dating were strictly enforced. Like most individual Mormon missionaries, he did not gain many converts, with the nominally Catholic but secular, wine-loving French people proving especially resistant to a religion that prohibits alcohol…In Nantes, Romney was bruised defending two female missionaries against a horde of local rugby players…He was promoted to zone leader in Bordeaux in early 1968, then in the spring of that year became assistant to the mission president in Paris, the highest position for a missionary…Romney’s support for the U.S. role in the Vietnam War was only reinforced when the French greeted him with hostility over the matter and he debated them in return.

I’ll rather arbitrarily stop there, but it just goes on and on and on. Romney was such a straight-arrow social conservative that he was almost a caricature. And after that, he had a career in business that contained no hint of liberalism.

It was only when he had settled in Massachusetts and started running for office (first time in 1994, against Ted Kennedy) that some moderation showed. He had to refute the Kennedy forces’ charge that he was like Reagan—which, in Massachusetts, would have been a death-blow to anyone’s political aspirations. It was during this campaign, against one of the most liberal members of Congress, and then again in 2002 when he ran for governor of Massachusetts and won, that he tacked to the left of a conservative line. That’s the way he governed as well, and it’s really probably the only way he could have governed in Massachusetts, with its highly Democratic legislature and electorate.

You may call him a hypocrite for that, and most definitely he had to compromise some of whatever conservative principles he might have had to hold that office. Perhaps a “real” conservative would not have even run for senator or governor from a state such as Massachusetts—or, if such a person did run, he/she would certainly not have expected to win, but merely to have a platform to voice some conservative ideas. Romney ran to win, and he did.

In short, he became a politician—although rather late in the game.

Now, you may not want a politician as president. I’d actually prefer something else myself. But I like to think of myself as a realist, and I think that’s what Romney is, too. The question is: which was the pose and which the real convictions of the man?

Some would say, “Convictions? He hasn’t got any.” But what if he compromised his inner conservative in order to be elected in Massachusetts, rather than compromising now?

I don’t pretend to know what the man would do as president. I don’t like the idea of electing another person who might say one thing and do another, or who would cave on important principles, either. This very much concerns me. But Obama’s personal background and his voting record screamed “left,” whereas Romney’s background screams “right,” and the only political record he has is in Massachusetts, an ultra-liberal state that he took more to the right than his predecessors. Isn’t it highly possible that, if Romney were to be elected president with the more conservative message he’s giving out now (and as champion of political change, I believe it’s probable he has become more politically conservative over the years), and if there were a Republican Congress as well, he would find it both pragmatic and ideologically congruent to govern as a conservative?

61 Responses to “So, what would Romney do…”

  1. gcotharn Says:

    I have thought, for some time, that the reasoning inside your conclusion may prove correct:
    “Isn’t it highly possible that, if Romney were to be elected president with the more conservative message he’s giving out now, and if there were a Republican Congress as well, he would find it both pragmatic and ideologically congruent to govern as a conservative?”

  2. Mr. Frank Says:

    Right on, Neo. Everything about Romney’s life from childhood on suggests he is a very traditional man in his world view and behavior. Conversely, everything we know about Obama says he is a lefty who is down on America.

  3. Commenter formerly known as roc scssrs Says:

    The older I get, the more I realize you elect a person, not a set of pre-formed principles. I will take nudging the country rightward to going down to noble defeat.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    “Isn’t it highly possible that, [blah blah blah] govern as a conservative?”

    You are so cute when you’re credulous.

  5. SteveH Says:

    How did we get Romney? Well if you let all Americans vote to decide what color to paint your living room, you can pretty much count on it being beige.

  6. Occam's Beard Says:

    Some would say, “Convictions? He hasn’t got any.”

    Most Democrats don’t have any convictions, either. And some who do also have appeals still pending, so their convictions may be overturned.

  7. foxmarks Says:

    How about the theory that he’s a 1950s Democrat? Most of those views would poll Republican and get labeled conservative these days.

    If he is a social conservative, he cannot tell us why. It stems from his faith, and he would be tarred as among the zany polygamists or relentlessly evangelical Mormons that nobody likes.

    Outside social conservatism, no matter his motivations, what in his biography suggests he prefers small government and trusting people to work out their own personal solutions? He’s a scion of the 1%, the Ruling Class, the Bi-Factional Bankster Party.

  8. Mike Mc. Says:

    “I’m that “True Conservative” that does not like the reality. We have spent ourselves into oblivion. About 50% of the country does not know how many States there are, or any science, or history.

    And, we are hoping a wishy-washy Massachusetts liberal, claiming to be a Conservative to get elected, can save us.

    There’s some reality for you….”

    True Conservative my arse.

    I have yet to meet one person anywhere who thought that if we elect the right President they will correct the cultural drift and reform the education system and everything else implied in number of states jibe.

    I have yet to meet even one person who thought Romney or any other Republican President would “save” us.

    I have met, mostly on the internet, a whole host of “true conservative” whiners – holier than thou with god-like virtue and the ability to know 100% what some President or Congressperson needs to do to make everything better again. Yuck! These people are starting to make me as sick as Chuck Schumer makes me!

    What we desperately need is someone who can beat Obama. That is everything right now. One person cannot save us; except in that they can stop Obama from totally destroying us.

    If we can manage to not be destroyed we have an outside chance of reforming the culture – but that’s an inside job and no President or Congress could do or should do.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike Mc: agreed.

  10. neo-neocon Says:

    foxmarks: I’m not sure how a businessman (which is pretty much what Romney has been for most of his life) could demonstrate how he feels about the size of government. Certainly, business people generally believe in less government control of business, and in individual initiative, and I see nothing to contradict this in Romney’s business life (and I’m unaware of anything he did as governor that indicated he wanted more government control of businesses). You may disagree with Romneycare and believe it’s a case of big government, but Romney saw it as the alternative to big government control of health insurance (which might have passed in Massachusetts, it being a liberal state), and a way to keep it in private hands (and that the individual mandate would only be okay at the state level). At the time, that’s the way the Heritage Foundation and Newt Gingrich saw it, too, although they’ve since changed their minds.

    I’ve been quite favorably impressed with Romney’s business history, considering all the possibilities for ethical pitfalls in business. He seems to have been a person trying (not perfectly, but trying and for the most part succeeding) to be that rarity, an ethical but successful, smart, and hardnosed businessman.

    And this seems quite unusual, “He also personally opted out of the Artisan Entertainment deal, not wanting to profit from a studio that produced R-rated films.” Even his work for the Mormon Church is very very impressive, for example, “An unpaid position, Romney’s local church leadership often took 30 or more hours a week of his time. Due to his responsibilities, he generally refrained from any business travel that would prevent him from getting back to the Boston area by night.”

    It’s not that I’m a shill for Romney. But I try to have an open mind. For the most part, what I see is that he’s a very conservative and yet very pragmatic and capable person.

  11. Occam's Beard Says:

    I don’t know why people are down on Mormons. I’m not one (no coffee? no alcohol? miss me with that), but know and have worked with a number of them, and have yet to meet one I didn’t respect and like. The ones I know all actually live their religion, rather than just paying lip service to its principles, and they’re solid, decent, hard-working, patriotic, and family-oriented. If only there were more people like them.

    So, without more, Romney’s religion is if anything a tentative plus in my book. He may be a conniver, etc., but if so he’ll be the first exception I know of to my generalization above.

  12. geran Says:

    Wow, is this my “fifteen minutes of fame”?

    Somehow I thought it would have been better, nevertheless, I am breaking out the champagne.

  13. Perfected democrat Says:

    “What we desperately need is someone who can beat Obama.”
    Best get resigned and make the best of it. What we need is somebody who can beat Hillary and Bammy together, cause it may only be rumor now, but Hillary wants to be POTUS sooo bad after a term as VP, don’t underestimate the possibility. It looks like Mitt is a foregone conclusion, the big question is who can complement our wily, flexible, stealth conservative most effectively as the VP; maybe someone black (Cain), or female (Bachmann), or double trouble, wily, stealth conservative (Huntsman), or ? This is hard work, makes you thirsty, I think I need to take another sip of kool-aid…

  14. Occam's Beard Says:

    Hillary will be pushing 70 by the time of the next election. Granted, Reagan was about that age when he was elected, but her age in combination with her baggage probably pretty much preclude her running for President – unless she does it this time, which looks unlikely.

  15. neo-neocon Says:

    geran: congratulations!

  16. Gringo Says:

    Some would say, “Convictions? He hasn’t got any.” But what if he compromised his inner conservative in order to be elected in Massachusetts, rather than compromising now?

    Abraham Lincoln was dead set against slavery from an early age , but he modified his public positions on slavery by what he considered politically feasible at the time. For example, he did not unilaterally free slaves in Union states in the Emancipation Proclamation because he did not want to precipitate cries for secession in the slave-owning Border States that stayed in the Union. Similarly, he waited for Union victory at Antietam before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, as he didn’t want to appear desperate.

    As a result of Lincoln’s politically tuned statements on slavery, some of the Abolitionists from time to time considered him “soft” on slavery – even unprincipled. The end result of the Civil War speaks to the accuracy of those who considered Lincoln to be “soft” on slavery oar unprincipled.

    That Romney was a supporter of the Vietnam War on a liberal campus shows that he can go against the crowd. There was not a lot of campus support for the Vietnam War at the time.

    His being a Mormon missionary in France took a lot of inner toughness.

    As others have pointed out, running as a Reaganite in tru-blue Massachusetts would not have been a winning ticket. Better survival than suicide.
    I second Occam’s statement on Mormons.

  17. expat Says:

    I think it is possible that Romney got into politics because he was seeing the economic and regulatory disasters around him and thought he could make some changes. He was used to being an outsider on social issues, so they would not have been a motivating factor. However, seeing how far the fringe is moving social norms, he is probably now seeking a way to stick up for his own standards without imposing them on everyone else.

    Right now he seems to want to concentrate first on fixing things that lie within his area of expertise. I also think he has been boning up on foreign affairs at least since 9/11. I suspect that he knows there are no simple answers.

    I would be happy if he could change the direction of our taxing, spending, and regulating dysfunction and bring the people to trust once again in their ability to solve many of their own problems.

  18. neo-neocon Says:

    Perfected democrat: funny stuff.

    It is an interesting question, though, as to what person that wily stealth conservative Romney would pick as VP if he happens to get nominated. If Romney’s smart (and I think he is), it would be someone more conservative than he (that wouldn’t be too hard to find, would it?) and less “stealthy” about it.

    The only problem is, would that person accept? I think it would depend on how he/she evaluated Romney’s chances of winning the election. If good, a “true” conservative might accept, even at the risk of alienating his/her Tea Party following (Sarah Palin might be the only person who’d get away with it, but I doubt Romney would choose her). If Romney’s chances didn’t look good, this person might save him/herself for a run for the presidency in 2016.

    Boy, that sounds far away.

  19. Parker Says:

    Holding control of the House, especially retaining the tea party types elected in 2010, and gaining ground or actually taking the Senate is IMO the greater prize. If that can be accomplished and Romney is elected we’ll see whether or not he governs as he did in MA or is actually a ‘true conservative’. However, as Perfected noted (“but Hillary wants to be POTUS sooo bad…”) Hillary on the ticket as VP will greatly help BHO’s campaign.

  20. expat Says:

    Hillary is going to have to do something about her hair. Lately, she is looking tired, old, and unkempt, like she is not on top of things.

  21. Perfected democrat Says:

    I hope this comment isn’t too droll, but Jackie is said to have thought LBJ did JFK in, and who but Jackie might have had credible intuition about that; then considering the speculation about the Clinton’s history… Kevin Collins, http://www.coachisright.com/ , speculates about the Clintons and Holder concerning Kenneth Trentadue’s suspicious death, etc.; are these “dots”? Or are they just coincidence, not to mention, but I can’t resist, what happened to Ruby and Oswald, is any of this worthy of speculation, not to not mention the Obama’s birth certificate and social security number, on and on. Is there anything Democrats won’t do for their personal ambition or for the party, ie, voter fraud… Anyway, Obama probably wouldn’t run with Hillary as VP, if he thought about all those funny “dots”, if he valued his life?

  22. Occam's Beard Says:

    Gingrich would in some respects be a good VP candidate, at least as far as fulfilling the rabid attack dog requirement of the job description.

  23. J.L. Says:

    Mike Mc.:

    Amen! Amen! Amen!!

    Thank God. At long last this rational mindset is getting some traction here. And finally the alarmists are getting some response.

    Frankly, although I have always found Neo’s writings insightful and balanced, the comment sections of this blog have for some time been getting beyond conservative, into some very extreme territory. I knew things were getting too extreme when I found myself in the comment section to this March 18, 2010 post arguing against the notion of a military coup in this country!! I wont go into it, but if you want an example of how extreme things can get, just click on that post and read away. I do not doubt the sincerity of those who have felt this way, nor their love for their country, but thank God that this mindset has not won out. And thank God that those advocating reason on here are finally at least in equal numbers to those with alarmist “no compromise” mentalities.

  24. michaele Says:

    When it comes to Romney’s religion, I think I’d probably feel more comfortable in his house of worship rather than that of Rev. Wright.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    I will go on record as saying that I do not think Obama will ask Hillary Clinton to run for VP. He has never been eager to share the political spotlight with anyone who was/is a strong political power in his/her own right, and he would be threatened by it. He needs nonentities and/or yes-people around him, and although Hillary has been an obedient and subservient Secretary of State, I don’t think he’d trust her to continue in that vein as VP.

  26. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    OB and Gringo, I admire the Mormons I have known as well. They can come across as too stiff because they are on guard to not stumble in their quest to closely follow the tenets of their religion. They are surrounnded by caffeine and alcohol – how easy it is to fall when you are in the den of inequity all the time. (One of the reasons I could never be a Mormon!) We get a few of the young Mormon men walking the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, looking for someone they may be able to convert. I usually invite them in when they knock on my door because they can be cold and wet from walking in the drizzle. My intent is to give them a bit of hospitality – some warm cocoa or a bowl of soup. I assure them that my faith is firm, but that I recognize their mission is not easy and, since most are from Utah, I like to chat with them about my memories of living there. They are inevitably well mannered, intelligent, and reasonable to talk with. (Thankful for some time out of the chill, too.)

    I would not have wanted to engage in such a difficult, thankless task during that time of my life. I’m sure that it matures them and tests them in a way that most young people don’t get to experience (especially these days) except by going into military service. Doing a mission in a foreign country would be even harder.

    So, I believe Mitt to be a man of ethics and ability. He seems to be a person who wants to serve his fellow citizens. I detect no self-serving reasons for his seeking office. He has the brains and talent to be someone who gets the government out of the way so our economy can work as it should.

    A Romney/Gingrich ticket would be a good one, IMO. Gingrich knows the ways of the Beltway, where the bodies are buried, and how things can get done. His expertise would be invaluable to Romney in moving a conservative program forward.
    Probably not a possibility, though. On to Iowa!

  27. Randy Says:

    Hillary wouldn’t provide the assassination insurance that Biden does. Obama needs the comic relief, too.

    I’m still not sold on Romney as a better than Obama choice. ‘Moderate’ republicans have a long history of appeasing the rabid leftists in congress to prove how moderate they are. Most are in league with big business leaning toward mercantilism. At least with an Obama second term, the big-government-big-spending Republicans in congress will put up more of a fight. Who knows, we might even get a few more true conservative congresscritters.

    If Romney chose Condoleezza Rice for VP it would sweeten the pot for me.

    As it is, I’m in Virginia, so I really only have two choices in the primary. I believe that the biggest threat to this country right now is the amount of debt – $15 trillion (100% GDP) and unfunded liabilities of conservatively $30 trillion (200% GDP). That is a much bigger risk than either immigration or terrorism or even ObamaCare. While Paul isn’t my first choice (or second), he’s still higher up than Romney.

  28. gcotharn Says:

    @J.L.

    I disagree with your assertion that only Romney supporters are “advocating reason”. After a good many weeks reasoning things out, I will be voting for Rick Perry.

  29. Sara Says:

    There will never be a candidate pure enough to satisfy those who call themselves conservative. I am a Republican and intend to vote for Republican candidates so that the Rs have the majorities in both Houses and can set the agenda. I intend to vote for the Republican candidate, the one who puts all Americans first and not the purists or the far leftists, both who leave me cold.

    Anyone who thinks a life long Mormon isn’t conservative in life and thought is just nuts. Do some searches on Romney’s years as a student or at Bain and read what those who worked with him or studied with him have to say. I assure you, the descriptions are far more conservative and positive than what you take as gospel from the lefty MSM or BS put out by dem campaign machines.

    The description of Romney that sticks in my mind is one by one of the Bain working group who described him as a detail man to the nth degree, but with the ability, after assimilating massive amounts of detail, to stand above it all and look down at the big picture. Those who have been there know that often there are detail guys and big picture guys, but rarely guys who are expert at both.

    Finally, I hope that either Ann or one of his great sons can get across something that his classmates and colleagues also cite, that he is a practical joker and funny man life of the party kind of guy. I don’t think we’ve seen that side of him in public and we should.

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    gcotharn: I’m not sure that J.L. is talking about the primaries at all. My impression is that the “unreasonable” reference is to conservatives who refuse to vote for Romney in the general if he’s the nominee.

  31. rickl Says:

    Randy Says:
    December 30th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Hillary wouldn’t provide the assassination insurance that Biden does.

    Boy, you said a mouthful.

    If I were Obama, no way would I put Hillary on the ticket.

  32. Curtis Says:

    Coming from Mormon country and Mormon background, I can tell you that Mormons aren’t strange in any sense more than every religion has it’s strangeness. In fact, it looks like Mormonism, has modified and changed itself due to evangelical reports of various concerns. Would that Islam would do the same. Perhaps it will.

    Regardless, Mormonism does definitely impart conservatism. It early on appeared to me that Romney, having left fundamental Mormonism, nonetheless retained and returned to the conservativism, especially social conservatism, of his youth. Remember that taking care of others is a part, a big part, of Mormonism, which, considers itself the inheritor and continuance of Judaism.

    Romney, his flip flops and changes, I see, not so much as disingenousness as rediscovering the value of his religion. His experience, given the high level of interaction with “non-believers,” I believe, challenged his essential beliefs and he, upon reflection and experience, came back to a re-understanding.

  33. foxmarks Says:

    Neo:

    I strongly disagree that business people desire less government control of business. Perhaps in some abstract or rhetorical sense, but history is replete with business owners manipulating government to stifle competition and create monopoly. GE was in favor of the light bulb ban. Monsanto writes ag policy. Goldman Sachs creates as many government officials as they do profits.

    The Wiki you link to shows that Romney wasn’t interested in continuing with the hands-on “Bain way”. He got into leveraged buyouts instead. He’s a finance guy, who “excelled at presenting deals”. He’s not an entrepreneur, or even a manager. This is a big part of why I say he is a 1%er. He’s Gordon Gekko with ethics.

    These concepts are at the root of our disagreement about Romney. I’m totally fine with his social conservative stuff, just wish he was a more vigorous defender of life both at conception and near death. He’s certainly virtuous. But do-gooders are the worst kind of tyrants.

  34. foxmarks Says:

    OB: I’ve been boosting Gingrich as VP for a while. He would be awesome in the Cheney model. But I doubt his devotion to nation is larger than his ego.

  35. Perfected democrat Says:

    “If Romney chose Condoleezza Rice for VP it would sweeten the pot for me.”

    So goes the rumor that she’s bored back at school, definitely one of the better ideas, however. My only personal reservation is that she orchestrated the Annapolis talks, but everybody else is to, and so mesmerized by the Saudi ROYALTY (what a spectacular con game they’ve played since Standard Oil found oil and with the British bribed them off their camels and out of their tents to do a deal. Not just Hillary and Huma, and Bubba and Weiner and GWB too, with O’bama bowwowing a lot lower than to the Queen of England, screw Churchill’s bust, colonial bastard. How things have deteriorated since the English discovered humility, blah, blah. But nobody cares about my personal reservations anyway; in any case, doing big arms deals with the Sunnis (Saudis), supposedly to balance he Shiites (Iran), after 9/11, while hedging on moving the embassy to Jerusalem seems like a fools game to me, maybe lazy or cowardly also; they don’t call them (us) dhimmis for no reason, and they only have more time than money than we do. How embarrassing for the “free” world, but then contemplate being a Vichy collaborator with a straight face, the only thing worse might be goading the Romans to crucify Jesus, in some people’s giddy imaginations. Several years ago I was enthusiastic about Condi as a possible POTUS, and a black dedicated Christian real nice sophisticated guy I worked with who was a lot whiter than me said don’t be too sure about her. But that is beside the point, how could anyone outdo bringing back Condi in the ultimate oneupsmanship game, Mitt w/ Condi, and Newt as Secretary of State, and John Bolton back at the U.N., something to get enthusiastic about and even proud again; the slave casting off his chains, at least until interest rates start going up on the 15-50 trillion in 2014!

  36. NeoConScum Says:

    Mitt+Condi, something I’ve been dreaming-wishing for some time, would be a WINNER. They’d also be a very strong, steadfast administration. Bolton–not Newtie, for goodness sake–at State. David Petraeus at Defense or, more likely, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Doug Feith would be great as Sec’y of Defense:Imagine the tops blowing off of gazillions of Lib-Lefty heads with their “Neocon Cabal” paranoia & vitriol!…Bolton & Feith…Ahhhhh.

  37. J.L. Says:

    neo-neocon Says:

    gcotharn: I’m not sure that J.L. is talking about the primaries at all. My impression is that the “unreasonable” reference is to conservatives who refuse to vote for Romney in the general if he’s the nominee.

    Correct, neo. That was my point. Thank you.

    I was also generally venting against some overall irrationality on the right which is not at all “conservative.” For example, in the post and comments I linked to, commenters were arguing (this in early 2010) that there may not even be any further elections, as Obama & Co. would work behind the scenes to take over, and that only a military coup would be sufficient to remove them. (I don’t think they were just being tongue-in-cheek as they wrote that.) Now, that notion has been refuted (there were, indeed, elections in November of that year which gave the GOP the House, as well as a special election that brought in Scott Brown in MA.), and yet now here we are with some commenters saying that elections notwithstanding, the choice may not be good enough, it has to be somebody they deem utterly pure or its no deal. Some, on other posts, have stated that they would prefer things actually getting worse, to the point of some sort of breakdown, because only that would purify this country of . . . what, leftism, I suppose.

    I’m suggesting that it is irrational to continue with the rigidity, the “dig in ones heels” mentality, and the rootless conjecture over apocalyptic or Orwellian scenarios. I suggest that an election is approaching, and it should be pursued with the same sort of rationality with which one balances a checkbook, or goes to the market (i.e. you may not get the “ideal” cut of meat, but you have to eat so something will have to do.) Instead, its as if people have been reading Ayn Rand on acid*. We have an opportunity to stop this ship from hitting the iceberg by switching captains: are we going to do that, or are we going to fantasize about which port of call we should head for while the ship sinks?

    *By the way: I like Ayn Rand, but its one thing to get ideas from her work, its another to live out Atlas Shrugged as if it conformed to reality completely.

  38. NeoConScum Says:

    J.L…Amen on all of your comments above.

    N-Neo: Presume you’ve read and marked multitudes of pages in David Mamet’s spectacular 2011 memoir of his move from the Dark Side and its Herd, as have I.

    ALL Here: “The Secret Knowledge:On the Dismantling of American Culture”, David Mamet(Sentinel-Penguin,NY,2011).

  39. suek Says:

    >>Anyone who thinks a life long Mormon isn’t conservative in life and thought is just nuts.>>

    Isn’t Reid a Mormon?

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    foxmarks: at Bain he excelled at a lot more than “presenting deals” [emphasis mine]:

    Romney spread profits from deals widely within the firm in order to keep people motivated, and often kept less than ten percent for himself…Within Bain Capital, Romney was viewed as a very fair manager and he received considerable loyalty from the firm’s members…

    n 1990, Romney was asked to return to Bain & Company, which was facing financial collapse. He was announced as its new CEO in January 1991 (but drew only a symbolic salary of one dollar). Romney managed an effort to restructure the firm’s employee stock-ownership plan, real-estate deals and bank loans, while rallying the firm’s thousand employees, imposing a new governing structure that included Bain and the other founding partners giving up control, and increasing fiscal transparency. Within about a year, he had led Bain & Company through a turnaround and returned the firm to profitability without further layoffs or partner defections. He turned Bain & Company over to new leadership and returned to Bain Capital in December 1992.

    And then there’s this.

  41. foxmarks Says:

    To expand slightly on what I see as a misperception of Romney’s business credentials… He never worked for the companies he takes credit for. He was a consultant, then a financier. That’s not what most people think of when they hear “businessman”.

    Cain, as a fresh counter-example, was VP of Burger King and CEO of Godfather’s. He worked inside the businesses he turned around. Cain started at the bottom, he was one of us. Romney was born at the top. Both can claim to be businessmen, but the nature of their business stories are quite different.

    The consultant is paid to be dispassionate about recommendations. Tying back to Obamneycare, a consultant’s mindset is the one that tells granny her surgery doesn’t meet cost-benefit criteria and her life today is worth only a handful of pills. The enterprise shows better financials as a result, but trades away its soul. Docs are already frustrated by Medicare, often unable to offer the preferred treatment (or even keep seeing patients). Putting Gordon Gekko in charge isn’t going to improve that.

    Romney’s obsession with painting China as a currency manipulator also betrays him as a finance guy, not a normal businessman. A businessman would talk about products and prices. Romney sees it in the most abstract terms. And recall the debate where Huntsman pointed out that there’s really nothing to be gained by harping on China’s currency, as the exchange rate isn’t the biggest or only problem.

    The United States is as much a currency manipulator as any nation. We’re now not only manipulating the dollar, but also the Euro through FedRes swaps. Doesn’t Romney see that?

    Romney’s the kind of person who thinks problems can be solved by taxing and spending. If only the tax code was tweaked and adjusted juuust right…

    I can’t vote for that. It is indeed a spoon where a shovel is called for.

  42. foxmarks Says:

    Neo: Our comments crossed in the ether…I love it when that happens!

    Management within Bain isn’t quite the same to me as “businessman” and isn’t what he points to as evidence of his business credentials. Restructuring an options plan and renegotiating loans is exactly why I call him a finance guy. The FedGov needs more than just a few teaks, and most of the current economy’s problems are the result of finance guys doing their job. The national debt is already held at near-zero-percent interest. There’s no room for a finance guy to renegotiate. We don’t need better terms, we need a new process.

    The Olympics are closer to “businessman”, but tainted. That entire operation is based on the kind of government favoritism I complained about a couple comments ago. It’s crony capitalism for a good cause.

  43. Occam's Beard Says:

    Plus Romney has no experience as a community organizer.

    Come back when you’re qualified, Mitt.

  44. NeoConScum Says:

    Occam…Good point re-His Infantile Majesty’s massive exec.experience as a(snort)’Community Organizer’ vs. Mitt’s untesting in that..errr…area.

    Well, at least Mitt has close-up, provable friendships-ties to the Maoist Community like, ya know, Billy Ayers & the delicate Bernardine…ohh.. Ooops…Okay, okay…Mitt’s spiritual advisor in the Mormon Church is a militant Fidelista-Liberation Theology advocate…Woops…NOT…Jeez, No Street Creds…And, The Boy King Obama had leadership experience as a Night Shift Mgr. at a Circle-K Mini Mart…Yikes…NONE there either, you say?

    Somebody STOP MEEEEE…Having way too much Fun!!

  45. neo-neocon Says:

    foxmarks: you can define your criteria so that they’re so narrow that almost no candidate fits them (only Cain, who’s out). The truth is that Romney has tremendous experience in the business world, and as a manager, which you said he had no experience with earlier. And he’s been pretty brilliant at it. The post of president fits quite well with his skill set, by the way.

    I’d like to see some quotes from him that indicate he’s a tax and spend person. His record in liberal Massachusetts was that he inherited a very large deficit that he had to deal with. He did so by closing tax loopholes and increasing some fees (such as for drivers’ licenses), and huge cuts in spending: “Romney sought additional cuts in his last year as Massachusetts governor by vetoing nearly 250 items in the state budget, but all of them were overridden by the Democratic-dominated legislature.”

    Also, “by 2006 the state had a $600–700 million surplus.”

    You can say that he should have done it only with spending cuts, but that was not possible with the Massachusetts legislature. He did pretty well, considering, and he did it without being a big tax and spend guy.

  46. foxmarks Says:

    Neo:

    It may seem niggly, but I contend he’s not a manager, in the sense of worldview and disposition. He has certainly managed stuff (he was a Governor!).

    I need to make a better case based on a distinction between finance and economics. I do not mean to draw a definition so narrow that few can qualify. But I DO want to disqualify those who feel that managing money is more important than managing real resources. I like battlefield generals, not headquarters generals.

    Trying to set aside my “finance guy” hang-up, you’ve made a great case that Romney is just the kind of consultant the FedGov needs. He’s looked at all the departments and begun to identify inefficiencies and redundancies. He did the same thing for MassGov and accomplished many of the recommendations in his consultants’ report.

    Clicking though his campaign site just now (to be sure I wasn’t misremembering) I see essentially a boilerplate GOP set of promises in business analyst framing. It’s an excellent report, with a wide collection of good but minor suggestions. There’s nothing significant. This would have been great ten or twenty years ago. It’s too little, too late for 2012.

    That he doesn’t aim to make any “transformational changes” to government is a good thing to many. The exclusive goal I hear is to defeat Obama.

    To my ear, that means holding a growing government at its current ratchet. Let the lefties consolidate their gains so the next battle will be over moving to the next step in bigger government.

    O.K., now I’m off in the weeds mumbling political philosophy.

    When I wrote the line about taxing and spending as a weakness, I meant exactly what you describe as a strength. It’s not just raising taxes and spending the revenue (which I know is how the phrase is heard), but the belief that tweaks to the tax code, changing some rates and swapping around some loopholes, are a sufficient response to a $1T+ annual deficit.

    There is simply not enough wealth being created to sustain that level of deficit. It’s paddling slower toward the waterfall. Debt is over 100% of GDP. His website says he wants to “pursue a balanced budget amendment”. How about proposing an actual balanced budget for the next fiscal year?

    Still trying to set aside my “finance guy” hang up, I am left with my principle reason for giving Obama my vote instead of Romney. I see a multi-level government fiscal collapse on the horizon. It could come next week or in a few year. Maybe a European bank blows up the global financial system. Maybe somebody starts a war that makes oil go to $150. Maybe California or Illinois can’t roll over their debt. If I knew exactly what and when, I could make myself rich.

    But I see too many frayed threads. The financing mechanisms that the real economy depends on are no longer robust. They are fracture-critical. When the collapse comes, I want it hung on a lefty. When the gov’t cheese doesn’t go out on time, it will be painted as the fault of that evil arch-conservative, President Romney.

  47. neo-neocon Says:

    foxmarks: you are not only niggly, you have become captured by the belief that you are able to predict the future and too reliant on your faith in a sequence of events that you cannot predict and have absolutely no control over.

    You are not alone in this. I’ve been mulling over and drafting a piece on this very phenomenon. There seem to be a great many people with an apocalyptic political vision who are going to act irrationally (IMHO) and against their own interests, and the interests of the nation, in order to help precipitate a terrible crisis in hopes of being able to pin it on the bad guys.

  48. Les Says:

    I sense a nastiness to Romney. Better hidden than Obama’s. For example, there’s this little tweak he made on Gingrich’s tears.

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2011/12/mitt-tweaks-newt-i-wont-cry-109177.html#.Tv5aTTwWjLQ.twitter

    My impression is that he’s running mostly negative ads in Iowa and that seems to be his reaction when he’s behind. Perhaps someone can correct this impression.

  49. foxmarks Says:

    Neo: I welcome the psychoanalysis. You’ll have to counter the economic arguments, though, too.

    I know I am not alone. You should go poke around fora where the real apocalyptic crazies hang out.

    And in my case, it is hard to see how I am acting against my interests. I am not a Republican. Is the Constitution contradictory to the national interest?

    At another level, isn’t it a bit of hubris (despite the friendly imho) to presume you can know what anyone’s set of preferences is? Pinning collapse on the bad guys is only a consolation prize. Arguing on the internet is the jackpot.

  50. Mike Mc. Says:

    @Foxmark: You admit you are not a Republican. Yopur man Paul, however, is a Republican.

    You must be conflicted.

    I said before I think Paul is a fraud – not for his views but for calling himself a Republican. in that, he’s a disgrace and a nutcase. I heard today that he claims it ‘s all the other guys who aren’t Republicans, but he is!

    The man is nearly certifiable.

  51. neo-neocon Says:

    foxmarks: what economic arguments? I would think it’s almost a tautology that you can’t tell the future in that regard. No one can, although one out of thousands will end up correct—we just don’t know who it will be in advance. And they’ll probably only be correct about parts of the future, not the details.

    I’m not just talking about your preferences, either. I’m talking about a whole set of commenters (and you seem to fall into that set) and of course I’m generalizing. Although it is fun to argue on the internet (I certainly spend plenty of time doing it), it’s no joke.

    I’m not a Republican, either. And if you think Obama is the greater threat to the Constitution, failing to vote for his opponent seems an odd way to go about protecting said Constitution, just because you fantasize it will provoke some sort of apocalyptic backlash, a form of the Hegelian Dialectic.

    In other words, you’re playing with fire.

  52. Les Says:

    What we seem to come down to is who is the greater threat to the Constitution. Obama is definitely, but I think Romney is also because he’s a pragmatist and not a man of principle. Perhaps he fought a rearguard action in signing the Massachusetts health care reform legislation and that prevented a wider encroachment of the government, but he’s not saying that. He’s saying that each state has the right to decide what is right whereas the principle is whether any individual should be forced to buy something he doesn’t want. So the best we can hope for from Romney is that any erosion of rights slows, but there still will be an erosion. Perhaps that’s the best that can be hoped for for now.

  53. foxmarks Says:

    Neo:

    The economic arguments are about the state of the financial system and how that effects the real economy. Even if had a diagnosable disorder, banks are insolvent and hiding that fact in collusion with gov’t (relaxing rules about reporting asset values). State governments are still facing unfunded and unfundable liabilities, particularly in regard to pensions.

    I don’t see a collapse because I want to see one. I see a collapse because I cannot find a credible scenario which avoids one. I have tremendous faith in people to work stuff out, which is why I don’t fit with the apocalyptic fringe. Currencies are not permanent. Central banks and governments are subject to fatal shocks. To hope that somehow the FedGov and FedRes have triumphed over history seems naive.

    It’s not much of a prediction to say that things out of balance eventually move toward equilibrium. Hubris would be claiming to know the timing and magnitude of adjustments.

    I fully acknowledge that Obama is not Constitutional. He plainly states he wants it to be something other than it is. But is Romney sufficiently Constitutional? Do I think a Romney administration would creep us toward a constructionist interpretation? I do not.

    A quick example from his website: “Government has a role to play in innovation in the energy industry.”

    Where in Art I Sec 8 does is Congress delegated authority to be involved in energy innovation?

    In one of these other posts, I acknowledged that I am playing with fire. The more violent the revolution, the more likely it ends in tyranny. It sucks. But I don’t find many people arguing against my assertions*, instead they attack my mental capacity.

    *in re: a brief period of violent upheaval and the Great Repricing. I can and do find arguments about politics and politicians.

  54. Brad Says:

    “As I’ve written about before, America’s election season degrades mainstream political discourse even beyond its usual lowly state. The worst attributes of our political culture — obsession with trivialities, the dominance of horserace “reporting,” and mindless partisan loyalties — become more pronounced than ever. Meanwhile, the actually consequential acts of the U.S. Government and the permanent power factions that control it — covert endless wars, consolidation of unchecked power, the rapid growth of the Surveillance State and the secrecy regime, massive inequalities in the legal system, continuous transfers of wealth from the disappearing middle class to large corporate conglomerates — drone on with even less attention paid than usual.

    Because most of those policies are fully bipartisan in nature, the election season — in which only issues that bestow partisan advantage receive attention — places them even further outside the realm of mainstream debate and scrutiny. For that reason, America’s elections ironically serve to obsfuscate political reality even more than it usually is.”

    http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/

    This thread is a case in point. Too scared to move outside of the two party system no matter how badly your own party abuses you or your trust. Too scared to even protest vote, even as your civil liberties have declined again and again.

    I hope I am wrong about Obama and Romney (or whoever) being alike in all the things that matter. I’d like to think that more WallStreet people wouldn’t be given important positions in a Republican cabinet, I’d like to believe that some of the civil liberties and constitutional violations of the Bush 2 and Obama administrations would be rolled back, I’d like to see the larger healthcare and financial crises really dealt with and real reform of government, but I don’t believe I’ll see it. Some of you will place your faith in the Republican brand (there’s no Democratic partisans here that I’m aware of unlike at Talkleft and similar) until the very moment your political and /or financial systems collapse.

  55. foxmarks Says:

    Two points in evidence of Romney as Finance Guy, and proponent of Keynesianesque interventionist gov’t:

    1) He supported TARP. Sure, *he* would have run it better. That’s exactly what I am afraid of, a tyrant with confidence and good intentions.

    2) He supported the GM bailout. Again, he would have run it “better” but he’s not afraid to shovel billions of other people’s wealth onto whichever fire he’s fighting.

    The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing

    Where are those gurantees in Art I Sec 8?

    The TEA people want failures to fail. Instead, we paper over failures, making the ultimate problem larger.

  56. Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup » Pirate's Cove Says:

    [...] neo-neocon wonders what Romney would do if elected POTUS [...]

  57. So, what would Mitt Romney do if he were elected President? « THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL. Says:

    [...] the title of an article by the Neo-Neocon; hat tip to William Teach. After discussing former Governor Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) personal [...]

  58. foxmarks Says:

    Saying someone is voting against their own interests and the national interest is a sophisticated, polite way of saying they’re crazy and unpatriotic.

    My first vote for President went to Reagan. Under his admin, FedGov spending grew greater than population (pdf). Bush 41 grew spending. Bush 43 grew spending. FedGov spending is a proxy for the size and intrusiveness of gov’t. Despite their promises and even good intentions, they all failed to contain the growth of the state. Setting aside their veto pens, they compromised against liberty and a basic conservative ideal.

    The “system” is broken. Continuing to engage in the “lesser of two evils” calculus isn’t working for me. I get more value, and my view is better represented, by voting against the impossible promises. If there is a parallel to disease, I am voting to feed the fever and break the infection before it consumes more of our national vitality. I could pop a couple of Romneys to treat the symptoms, and feel better for a while. But palliatives are not cures. I vote for expressing the infection and destroying it instead of letting it cripple us permanently.

    Almost none of us are truly crazy. Most of us like the ideals in the Declaration, but we differ about the meaning and relevance of the Constitution. It is a symptom of the politicization of everything that respectful disagreement cannot endure. Coping with the high-stakes nature of politics seems to require finding our opponents to be deeply, personally flawed. Alinsky lives in all of us.

  59. Richard Saunders Says:

    Foxmarks:

    I get what you’re saying but — to me it’s real simple:

    on my agreement scale of -100 to +100, Barry O’ is -100, and Mitt is a +65, maybe +70. That makes Mitt a better choice by 165 points. No hard decision there.

  60. foxmarks Says:

    Richard:

    a) We’re not disagreeing that Barry is worse than Mitt overall. I am contending that Mitt’s positives are not as strong as some think, his negs are higher, and he is a manifestation of a corrupt system. Correcting the system is more important to me. Mitt offers me nothing.

    b) Barry can’t really be a -100. He has studiously continued many of GWB’s policies (cf: FICA tax holiday, GITMO, drone strikes). Barry’s rhetoric is a -100, but as the Progs fairly argue, he has governed as a moderate Republican. His laziness has led me to no longer fear a 2nd term. Obamacare will either lead to my desired systemic correction or be overturned by the Supremes. I have zero faith that Congress will repeal and replace with anything that honors individual liberty and market-based pricing. I don’t want mere repeal, I want a catastrophic defeat at the hands of economic reality or legal principle.

  61. Richard Saunders Says:

    Foxmarks:

    a) Okay, so Barry’s a -95.

    b) “You can’t always get what you wa-a-ant, you can’t always get what you wa-a-ant, you can’t always get what you wa-a-ant — but if you try real hard, you can get what you need!”

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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