December 24, 2007

Yes, "Romney... Must Be Stopped" Crosses the Line, Too

Hatched by Dafydd

It has become tradition -- goodness only knows for how many decades or centuries -- for newspapers to believe they have a sacred duty to tell us whom to vote for; to endorse various candidates for public office... as if they knew any better than the average Jorge in the street.

We put up with it because it's amusing, it's fun, and it doesn't cause much harm. But Saturday, a paper turned that tradition on its head by telling us whom not to vote for: The Concord Monitor of New Hampshire cast an "anti-endorsement," singling out Mitt Romney and virtually pleading with voters to reject him, specifically:

If you were building a Republican presidential candidate from a kit, imagine what pieces you might use: an athletic build, ramrod posture, Reaganesque hair, a charismatic speaking style and a crisp dark suit. You'd add a beautiful wife and family, a wildly successful business career and just enough executive government experience. You'd pour in some old GOP bromides - spending cuts and lower taxes - plus some new positions for 2008: anti-immigrant rhetoric and a focus on faith.

Add it all up and you get Mitt Romney, a disquieting figure who sure looks like the next president and most surely must be stopped.

To be sure, the paper is a liberal one; their previous editorials include:

  • An attack on Rudy Giuliani for promoting the "short, emphatic and deceitful" canard that the election of Ronald Reagan had anything at all to do with the Iranian revolutionaries releasing our hostages:

    Yes, the hostages, most of whom worked at the American Embassy, were released less than an hour after Reagan took office.... But it was Carter's negotiations, which included an agreement to release $8 billion in seized Iran assets, that clinched the deal -- that plus the invasion of Iran by Iraq.
  • An earlier attack on Mitt Romney for his "speech on religion:"

    The founders, Romney said, banned the establishment of any state religion, but "they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."

    Wrong again. The founders wanted a nation in which non-believers as well as believers were equal. They believed in freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

  • And an editorial on illegal immigration in which they did indeed say -- as the Romney campaign characterized the paper's position after Saturday's anti-endorsement -- that it was a good idea to give drivers licenses to illegal immigrants:

    The public does appear soundly opposed to granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, though for reasons of public safety if nothing else it's a good idea. But polls also suggest that a large majority of Americans prefer providing a path to citizenship, however tortuous, for the illegal immigrants who are already here.

Right or wrong on the merits (I support a version of the last), these are liberal, not conservative positions. But even were a conservative newspaper (say, the Washington Times) to opine that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton "most surely must be stopped," I would say a line was crossed that ought not have been.

Maybe it's just my subjective reaction; but to me, there is a Grand Canyon sized chasm between a newspaper, radio, or television editorial positively saying that Mr. Fry Me would make the best president... and that same source negatively saying that Mr. Fritter My Wig is a dishonest louse, and we don't care who you vote for so long as it en't him.

I see nothing particularly wrong with ordinary people saying "anybody but Hillary" or "I won't vote for Romney," though it can be dangerous if that becomes such an absolute obsession that they vote against their own interests. Individuals are individuals; they haven't the imprimatur and nihil obstat of the fourth estate. But when a powerful news source singles out one candidate for such vilification, it becomes a dangerous demagogue, a bully who simultaneously vilifies anyone who supports the pariah.

But what was the Concord Monitor's beef with Romney in the first place? Their excuse is so flimsy, it cannot possibly be the reason:

If you followed only his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, you might imagine Romney as a pragmatic moderate with liberal positions on numerous social issues and an ability to work well with Democrats. If you followed only his campaign for president, you'd swear he was a red-meat conservative, pandering to the religious right, whatever the cost. Pay attention to both, and you're left to wonder if there's anything at all at his core.

As a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994, he boasted that he would be a stronger advocate of gay rights than his opponent, Ted Kennedy. These days, he makes a point of his opposition to gay marriage and adoption.

There was a time that he said he wanted to make contraception more available - and a time that he vetoed a bill to sell it over-the-counter.

The old Romney assured voters he was pro-choice on abortion. "You will not see me wavering on that," he said in 1994, and he cited the tragedy of a relative's botched illegal abortion as the reason to keep abortions safe and legal. These days, he describes himself as pro-life.

There was a time that he supported stem-cell research and cited his own wife's multiple sclerosis in explaining his thinking; such research, he reasoned, could help families like his. These days, he largely opposes it. As a candidate for governor, Romney dismissed an anti-tax pledge as a gimmick. In this race, he was the first to sign.

People can change, and intransigence is not necessarily a virtue. But Romney has yet to explain this particular set of turnarounds in a way that convinces voters they are based on anything other than his own ambition.

Note two points: Each of these changes is in the same direction, from Left to Right; and they occurred here and there over the space of years, not all on the same day. In other words, the Concord Monitor says that Romney "most surely must be stopped" because he grew more conservative as he grew older and more experienced.

While this echoes the refrain from some conservative Republicans, who are suspicious of anyone who wasn't "right from the beginning," the reality is that most people move rightwards as they gain more experience in life... and in particular as they gain more personal experience with what Milton Friedman -- summoning up the image of the "invisible hand" of the market that guides sellers to buyers -- calls the "invisible foot" of government, which sticks out to trip us up.

Those who have made such a journey famously include Ronald Reagan himself, of course, as well as Irving Kristol, Whittaker Chambers, Robert A. Heinlein, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, David Horowitz, former California Gov. Jerry Brown (he's still a liberal but far less so than thirty years ago), the lads at Power Line, and half the founding staff of the National Review. There's even a word for such a person: The original meaning of the neologism "neo-conservative" was a liberal who became a conservative -- generally because of Reagan (a.k.a. "Reagan Democrats").

(People occasionally go the opposite way, but it's atypical and usually based upon some perceived personal slight by the GOP establishment -- as with David Brock and with Mike and Arianna Huffington.)

Hitting the hysteria button over such a commonplace conversion puts the lie to the Monitor explanation: That cannot be the reason, because it would apply equally to McCain and Huckabee -- who the Monitor likes (or at least more or less tolerates) -- as to Giuliani and Romney, who they despise with a passion.

I don't know what the real reason is, but I can take an educated guess. The Monitor makes it clear they want Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) to be the Republican nominee; failing that, they can live with Mike Huckabee. The common factor binding those two together is the perception that each would split the Republican base asunder far more than either Romney or Giuliani would: Conservatives (other than some evangelicals) don't seem to care much that Romney is a Mormon, and only the most ardent pro-life activists refuse to accept Giuliani's assurance that he will appoint federal judges in the mold of Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito.

But both McCain and Huckabee are violently opposed by a huge chunk, if not a majority, of conservatives of various factions: For the most part, judicial-restraint conservatives, anti-illegal-immigration conservatives, and anti-campaign-finance-restriction conservatives oppose McCain; and fiscal conservatives, national-security conservatives, anti-illegal-immigration conservatives, and business conservatives oppose Huckabee. Thus, both candidates praised by the Monitor would make it more likely, in my view, that the Democrat would win the election.

Both candidates may attract significant numbers of independents; so if either does manage to eke out a win, he will be beholden not to traditional conservatives (or the hated "religous right") but to a centrist coalition of Democrats, Independents, and "moderate" (liberal) Republicans instead.

So the Monitor wants the next president to be Barack Obama; failing him, Joe Biden; failing both, Hillary Clinton. But if a Republican must win, they want the president to govern as a liberal-to-moderate Republican... like a Lincoln Chafee or a Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME, 45%), unlike the way either Romney or Giuliani would likely govern.

And evidently -- or so it seems to me -- the Monitor believes that the biggest threat to McCain or Huckabee getting the nod is... Mitt Romney. Hence "Mitt Romney... most surely must be stopped."

What a vile, calculating attack this is. And how shameful that the newspaper of the capital of New Hampshire would would stoop to such a Carvillean tactic.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 24, 2007, at the time of 6:08 PM

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» Another "Anti-Endorsement" of Mitt... This Time By a McCainiac Paper from Big Lizards
Is this becoming a disgusting, new trend? The Manchester Union Leader, generally considered a fairly conservative newspaper which has been openly campaigning for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) since the mating season began, endorsed him in the ordinary w... [Read More]

Tracked on December 26, 2007 3:21 PM

» 「ロム二ー候補の大統領当選は断固阻止されねばならない!」 リベラル新聞の行き過ぎ社説 from In the Strawberry Field
The English version of this entry can be read here. アメリカでは個々の新聞が社説などでどの候補者を支持するか明らかにすることは珍しくない。しかし、最近の新しい傾向なのか、リベラル派の新聞社がミット・ロムニーを「反支持」する社説を掲載した。いや、単にロム二ーを支持しないどころか、投票者にロムニーには投票するなと呼びかけているのである。 これは12月22付けのニューハンプシャー州はコンコードモニターに掲載された "Romney should not b... [Read More]

Tracked on January 2, 2008 4:47 PM


The following hissed in response by: efarr

When a liberal newspaper gives an anti-endorsement to a conservative, is that the same as an endorsement?

The above hissed in response by: efarr [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 24, 2007 6:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Chris

I can tell when I'm discussing a subject with a child or a Liberal, they always attack with meaningless aspersions and offer ridiculous conclusions without a hint of substantiative support, let alone, evidence.

On the other hand we have people who do;

Candidate Research - Know Who You’re Voting For

The above hissed in response by: Chris [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 24, 2007 9:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: Chris

Try that link one more time:

Candidate Research - Know Who You’re Voting For

The above hissed in response by: Chris [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 24, 2007 10:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

The funny thing about that line, is that fewer and fewer people bother to read their line, or the lines of any newspaper.
More and more people not only see through the cynical and deliberate misrepresentations performed by the MSM. They are also voting with their eyes, and using them to gather news and informatino elsewhere.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2007 12:07 PM

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