One of the more galling facets of the 2012 Presidential campaign was watching Mitt Romney taking flak from the social right, the Rick Santorum crowd, on having been marginally impure on social issues, while at the same time getting beaten up from the fiscal purists (egged on by the left) for Romneycare, and the Libertarians for having been insufficiently pro-Liberty, whatever that meant. 

Of course, the key difference was that Mitt Romney had been in office, governor of not only a large state, but a toxically left-leaning one, in which he had few legislative allies.  To get anything useful done as governor of Massachusetts – and he did – he had to compromise.  “Romneycare”, bad as it may be, was a better compromise than what the Massachusetts Democrats would have spawned. 

The lesson, of course, is that rock-solid principle is easy, when your job never involves having to engage on a daily basis with your opponents to get anything done.  US Congresspeople do that only on the most symbolic and ritual level. 

Governors?  It’s part of their daily job.

And so while the likes of Govenors Romney, Pawlenty, Walker and others may have great black marks against them in the great book of princples in the sky, those marks are given by people who’ve never had to negotiate with a recalcitrant state employee union, or horse-trade with a hostile legislative majority. 

Fact is – as I say all the time – politics is a marathon, not a sprint.  Things get done over time, not overnight.  It’s work for the obsessively patient. 

Society get changed not by the people who have the coolest slogan – “Repeal Now!” or “War on Womyn!” or “TRU LBRT!” or whatever it is that sends a tingle up one’s true believers’ legs – but by the people who not only show up, but keep showing up.

Which is Kevin Williamson’s point in this NRO piece, which you should read in its entirety, and which concludes:

The Democrats did not build the welfare state all at once in 1965, and Republicans didn’t have an honest shot at repealing it all at once in 1995. Everybody has a big plan, and Washington is full of magic bullets: leash the Fed, enact the Fair Tax, seal the borders. But what’s needed — what might actually result in a stronger American order — is a thirty years’ war of attrition against the welfare state and entrenched incompetency. Federal crimes and misdemeanors ranging from the IRS scandal to the fumbling response to Ebola suggest very strongly that we have management and oversight problems as well as ideological ones, but holding oversight hearings long after (one hopes) Ebola is out of domestic headlines provides very little juice for a presidential candidate facing a restive base all hopped up on Hannity. Being the guy who gets up and demands the repeal of Obamacare might get you elected president; being the guy who fixes the damned thing simply makes you a target for talk-radio guys who have never run for nor held an elected office but who will nonetheless micturate upon your efforts from a great height.

Everybody wants to run for president. But somebody has to save the country.

Read the whole thing.

And hold the sloganeering.

4 thoughts on “Impure!

  1. On Romneycare, Mitt had the involvement of both sides of the aisle AND the insurance industry to hammer out the best option.

    Conversely, the Demonrats crafted Obamacare behind closed and locked doors, with no other input (because, THEY know what’s best for everyone), then rammed it through in the wee hours of the morning. It was also the first example of Obumbler’s new “transparency” doctrine, where they didn’t post it on the congressional web site at least 72 hours before it was voted on. But the, that’s how the Demonrats roll!

  2. “Mitt had the involvement of both sides of the aisle”

    To the extent that there WAS a GOP side in Massachusetts.

    But good point.

  3. An argument made by one of Obama’s advisers (Plouffe or Axelrod) in the run up to the 2008 election was that Republicans hated government so much they couldn’t make it work. Get a Dem prez to go along with dem majorities in the house and senate, and the lovers of government would be able to show you how well government could work.
    Democrats blame every failure of government on the GOP. Witness Pelosi, et al, trying to blame the GOP for the CDC’s incompetence in executing its core mission.
    It’s hard to cut through the ack-ack of every major network’s news and entertainment division, the endless bien-pensant drizzle from the intellectual class, and soft marxism of every big city newspaper’s editorial board, but simply hammering away at the sheer incompetence of government at the federal level may eventually turn the tide.
    Ask a liberal “Why the f*ck would you allow a government that came up with Guantanamo and no-fly lists to manage your health care? Are you insane?!”

  4. You do realize that in 22 years of politics, Mitt Romney won exactly one election, with less than 50 percent of the vote, leaving with a 34 percent approval rating and ending a string of four consecutive Republican governors of arguably the most liberal state in America?

    Yes, Romney is impure. He’s a liberal Republican who was the father of gay “marriage” and the grandfather of Obamacare. For crying out loud, he was the ONLY Republican who could NOT run against Obamacare and he got nominated to run for President.

    If conservatives didn’t vote for the worst party Presidential nominee since Alf Landon, it’s hard to blame them. And if Romney had to go along to get along, where was ANY significant conservative achievement made during his only tenure in public office?

    There’s got to be a better analogy for the argument than Mutt Romney.

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