Monday, January 09, 2012

The Fix: Democrats Want Romney.

“Liberals have a rendezvous with regret. Their largest achievement is today’s redistributionist government. But such government is inherently regressive: It tends to distribute power and money to the strong, including itself.”

--George Will, Washington Post

In Communist societies, mostly withering carcasses today, the operating ideology was redistributionist. And socialists, as George Will suggests, rule through an elite of major beneficiaries, known variously as the “inner party” (1984), the nomanklatura (USSR), the “New Class” (Yugoslavia), or “the princelings” (today’s China).

A version of this Socialist/Communist redistributionist ideology survives today in Democratic Party America. Republicans can either accept the ruling class’s chosen Republican for retaining elite power—Mitt Romney—or they can fight the elite’s preferred candidate with all the energy left at their disposal.

Why is the Republican nominating process thus far yielding up Romney? In part, it’s because the entire Democratic establishment has nothing to do this season but mess with the Republican nomination. Here’s how liberal “messing around” in the GOP selection process is benefiting Romney:

First, Democratic involvement has meant money for Romney, media concentration on Romney, and a systematic effort to knock off every conservative rival to Romney as that rival emerges. Conrad Black, writing weeks ago in the conservative National Review, described the Democratic blowback after Newt Gingrich had emerged as the latest conservative alternative to Romney:
The Obama administration . . . character-assassination squads, though their ranks are now so deep they are the largest such work party since the scores of people who crowded into the firing squad to execute the Ceausescus, [cannot] believe their good fortune. [In] a replication of the 25-battleship sustained bombardment of Okinawa[, they are now going all-out to bring] Newt down.
Second, as we have said, the conservative rump of the ruling class—GOP intellectuals working in the Northeast—truly believe one of their own is most likely to stop Harvard law’s Obama. That would be Harvard law and Harvard business school graduate Romney. The conservative elite has therefore done its best to bring down Romney’s opponents in succession—Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich, and now Santorum, while leaving Romney’s undistinguished Massachusetts governor record largely unexamined.

Third, the media have held a huge series of debates featuring such a large number of candidates that it is difficult to bore in on serious issues, and relatively easy to knock down participants through “wrong” responses to “gotcha” questions, responses that nevertheless fail to keep the minor candidates from returning again and again, and confusing the succeeding debates. Debates quite obviously also favor candidates such as Romney who are intellectually superior and who benefit from previous campaign experience.

Fourth, the media and Democrats have quietly helped along Ron Paul by treating him as a serious candidate, while hiding his overwhelming dependence on young people—essentially Democrats—attracted to his extreme anti-war and pro-drug legalization platform. Republican Paul is receiving the same kid glove treatment the media gave Obama in 2008. Like Romney, Paul additionally benefits in debates from having previously gone through them. Paul’s presence is complicating the conservative effort to find a single alternative to Romney, as is Jon Huntsman’s candidacy.

Fifth, Democrats and the media are playing a deep game that has confused conservatives about exactly what’s going on. Here’s FOX News anchor Chris Wallace talking to Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz this past Sunday:
WALLACE: Republicans are just beginning to pick . . . their nominee [and already] your party is putting out ad after ad targeting Mitt Romney. And, in fact, during the debate last night, the DNC sent out several e-mails going after Romney but no one else. Why all of the focus by your party on Mitt Romney?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Mitt Romney has earned that scrutiny. He had spent his entire campaign relentless attacking President Obama, distorting his record, decategorizing his record.

WALLACE: Forget about distorting. That fact is all of the Republicans are going after Obama. But you guys are going after Mitt Romney.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, Mitt Romney is one of the candidates who was near the top, or at the top. . .
If Democrats like Romney, why are they attacking him? Do they in fact fear Romney? As we noted earlier, conservative radio king Rush Limbaugh thinks Democrats are indeed attacking Romney, even though they want him to be the GOP nominee, because they want to delay the nomination as much as possible and force Romney to waste resources now that won’t be available to fight Obama later.

Limbaugh, having to defend his Machiavellian thinking against disbelievers, has just seized upon former Democratic Party chair Donna Brazile’s frank statement, on CNN, that Democrats do indeed want Romney to win:
BRAZILE: Mitt Romney won tonight because no one touched him -- and for Democrats, you know what? It was good news for us.
Limbaugh calls Brazile’s comment “a major faux pas.” Rush:
The line that's supposed to come out of the Democrat Party is they're scared of Romney. The line is, "Oh, no, they don't want to face Romney. Romney is the toughest guy." [But] the Democrats know that our experts are stupid enough to believe that the Democrats will be honest and tell us who they really don't want to face.
Confused? Wallace says Democrats are out to stop Romney, and Limbaugh says the opposite. I think Limbaugh is largely right. Democrats want the fight to go on and waste Romney’s resources. But they also want Romney to win, and are quietly working for that outcome. They want Romney to win because they want the election to be about which party is more compassionate, and certainly not about whether business or government does better at job creation.

Romney’s reluctance to engage in “class warfare,” a reticence based on his Wall Street background and his being born with “a silver spoon in his mouth,” makes beating him easier than taking on a non-elitist. Romney also largely forfeits the GOP’s ability to attack Democrats on Obamacare; after all, Romney is the father of Romneycare. More generally, Romney’s meritocracy background puts the election battle on a field upon which Democrats are comfortable winning, the same way John Kerry’s decision to battle George Bush in 2004 on national security gave comfort to Republicans.

Democrats do sincerely believe the Republican extremist candidates are easier to beat than Romney, but they also see a real risk in fighting on a new battlefield, not only for them, but for the country as a whole. The country cannot afford Gingrich/Santorum/Perry. Better the devil you know than a truly awful outcome, such as Reagan’s victory over Carter in 1980.

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