The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler


Posted on | February 19, 2012 | 29 Comments

Has Glenn Reynolds joined the “Roll Over for Romney” movement?

Back in 2008, the social-cons were all-in for Romney, to the point where Hugh Hewitt’s take became a running tagline (“You know who this is good for? Mitt Romney!”) that’s still used by by bloggers from time to time. Now, not so much. So what changed about Romney since 2008 to make him un-conservative?

Hugh Hewitt, “social conservative”? He’s a Nixonian. But I was under the impression that the real reason Hugh was pro-Romney was because he was hustling a Romney book.

I was part of the ABM (Anybody But McCain) Movement in 2008 and, like a lot of us ABMers, I was at first a Fredhead until that fizzled, then jumped aboard the Romney bandwagon as the last, best hope for stopping Cousin Crapweasel. Then Mitt quit at CPAC 2008, virtually guaranteeing Maverick’s nomination, at which point I swore a vow to vote Libertarian rather than to vote for That Backstabbing Son of a Bitch Who Got the Republican Nomination. (There is a reason, after all, that this blog is called The Other McCain.)

My opposition to Romney this year is less vehement than my implacable opposition to John McCain four years ago. Some of my friends are Romney supporters. But I hate this “It’s His Turn” stuff that the GOP Establishment keeps trying to run — endlessly replaying the Dole 1996 campaign — and I would rather have a candidate chosen by actual Republican voters in competitive primaries than to have one “anointed” in advance by the Establishment.

Also, there is an archipelago of volcanic islands in the South Pacific in desperate need of my diplomatic expertise . . .

The Only Candidate Who Cares About Vanuatu,
Crucial Linch-Pin of the South Pacific


29 Responses to “Insta-RINO?”

  1. Mike G.
    February 19th, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

    And all this time I thought Reynolds was a Libertarian. Who knew.

  2. MrPaulRevere
    February 19th, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

    Having affection for a political figure is somewhat of a fools errand. I believe it was Krushchev who said ‘Politicians are the same everywhere. They promise to build a bridge where there is no river.’ And there is a healthy dose of truth in that. Are some of them better than others? Of course, but they will all disappoint you at some point. Even President Reagan (the only political figure I ever felt any personal affection for) made errors of omission and commission. I prefer to judge them in terms of acceptable and unacceptable.

  3. Orrin
    February 19th, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

    For a Libertarian, when your options are Newt (imploded), Santorum (A guy who is constantly bagging on libertarians, and has no compunction with big government so long as it’s in the name of Jesus), or Paul (a guy who is, well, Paul), Mitt is what’s there.  He’s better than that camel Reynolds is always talking about.

  4. Adjoran
    February 19th, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

    It is NOT the “GOP Establishment” – which really just means Republicans who have pissed you off at one time or another – which has established the “it’s his turn” pattern of picking nominees.  Before the change into mostly primaries which began in the ’70s (but because the reforms began in the Democratic Party, they weren’t fully dominant in the GOP until the ’80s), there was no such thing. 

    If anything, we were rather eclectic about our nominees before “the people” gained all the power – there weren’t any such “his turn” nominees until perhaps Nixon in 1960 (but certainly not in 1968, when he waged a long grassroots effort beginning in ’65 to rebuild the Party and earn the loyalty of the state/local activists and officeholders).  Wilkie was a former Democrat, Dewey was mistrusted by the West/Midwest agricultural wings, Ike was a wild card suspect to the “establishment.”

    It was our primaries which rewarded Ford’s loyalty and then recognized first Reagan, then Bush, then Dole, and finally McCain as being “next in line.”  It’s the people, the voters who have done this, not “the establishment” – in fact Reagan and McCain were, like Ike, not regarded as team players by the Old Guard players of their time.

    In fact, it is probably more an invention of the pundit class than anything else – they noticed a pattern and it grew into a meme.  If anything, the actual phenomenon is more a factor of name recognition than a sense anyone has “earned the right” to the nomination by being “next in line.”

  5. Multimedia Group
    February 19th, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

    This is pretty simple. The GOP grassroots are largely conservative and thus, we get a lot of conservative candidates and much fewer moderate/liberal candidates. This tends to favor the lone (or near lone) moderate/liberal in the primaries for obvious reasons.  

    Meanwhile, the GOP establishment is also moderate/liberal so there is a natural affinity between them, their money, their power structure and the moderate/liberal GOP candidate.

    As a result, the conservative candidates rarely survive the GOP primary process. The math and the establishment puts the odds against them.

  6. Pathfinder's wife
    February 19th, 2012 @ 9:52 pm

    There’s always Gary Johnson.
    I just don’t see “Mitt Romney — Libertarian’s Choice”.

  7. robertstacymccain
    February 19th, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    But Adjoran: The Democrats never do this. There is no one in the past half-century who has gotten the Democratic nomination on his second try, whereas the GOP has had Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41, Dole and McCain all win the nomination on their second try. Except for Reagan, all of them either lost (Dole and McCain) or were faiiled presidents who ultimately damaged the party.

    This pattern is disturbing, and does not bode well for Romney.

  8. Roxeanne de Luca
    February 19th, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

    To answer the substance of “what happened” with Mitt between 2008 and the end of 2011: ObamaCare.  In 2008, there was a straight-faced argument that what Mitt had to do as Governor of Massachusetts is not what he would do nationwide, that the Tenth Amendment means that states can do this and the federal government can’t, that MA is a rich state and can afford it, that anyone would see the costs spiralling out of control here and know that we shouldn’t inflict the same thing on the rest of the country…..

    Then 2009 happened, and Sarah Palin stood up to fight ObamaCare.  Scott Brown, that former little-known state senator from a somewhat rural area, stood up to fight ObamaCare.  Mitt Romney, who would have been loaded with credibility to discuss why ObamaCare would not work, was silent. He was not making the rounds of the TV shows, the blogs, whatever causing whatever ruckus he could to stop the damn thing from being enacted. Mitt talks a good game in 2012, but we needed that in 2009 and it wasn’t there.

    Plus, we are all justifiably suspicious of liberal media darlings, and the liberal media seems to like Mitt.  The liberal media loved John McCain, right up until he secured the nomination and became a threat to Obama. Hell, at least Gingrich has been through the national media wringer; Romney hasn’t been tested in that area.

  9. smitty
    February 19th, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    One it tempted to wonder if, along with Mass. Senator Kerry, Mitt somehow made a truckload of money on the  ObamaCare legislation.

    But that’s impossible: Republicans never treat the American people as sheep shorn by legislative sheers.

  10. DaveO
    February 19th, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

    IMO Professor Reynolds is making comment, similar to Rush’s, about how the Romney was the more conservative GOP candidate in 2008, and was loved by the Right-o-sphere because they hated McCain and his obnoxious cynicism.

    Now it’s 2012 and Santorum is the more conservative candidate (not as conservative as Newt), and is preferred while Romney is the leftist cynic.

    Reynolds comments on the lack of principles held by the Right’s bloggers, not the consistency of Romney’s actions.

  11. Guest
    February 19th, 2012 @ 11:23 pm

    “Legislative shears”. Legislative sheers are the type of pantyhose Barney Frank wears.

  12. Guest
    February 19th, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

    In ’08, Romney WAS further to the right than McCain- or, at least he never had attempted to hand the Democrats a permanent electoral majority the way McAmnesty had. Nobody was in love with him; he just wasn’t McCain.
    In ’12, Santorum IS further to the right than Romney- or, at least he recognizes that Obamacare IS Romneycare (which even the drafters of Obamacare have acknowledged) and that both are equally wrong. He’s not perfect; just not Romney.
    There’s no lapse of principles in recognizing that one candidate is further to the right than another candidate, who was further to the right than a third guy entirely.
    If your interpretation is accurate, Reynolds is full of Althouse- which does occasionally happen.

  13. Bob Belvedere
    February 19th, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

    To answer Professor Reynolds’s question:  Many on the Right discovered over the past four years that Willard is a flip-flopping crapweasely wimp.

  14. Orrin
    February 20th, 2012 @ 12:01 am

    Mitt’s a more than acceptable default when the alternatives are either openly hostile to your position or semi-insane.

  15. DaveO
    February 20th, 2012 @ 12:15 am

    Sure there’s a lapse in principles. If the past trend was to support the most conservative candidate in the running up until the nominating convention, then this year has broken that trend. Many thinkers, talkers, and bloggers are supporting the Establishment Man, even after spending years decrying the GOP Establishment, Insiders, and the Ruling Elite.

    Here’s the choker of the day: Ann Coulter has gone Establishment. 

    I like Rush’s rule: criticize each candidate where it is honest criticism, endorse none of them, and never have to worry about either failing to vet a candidate, or walk back pre-nomination attacks on the same man one now has to carry the water for.

  16. Adjoran
    February 20th, 2012 @ 3:37 am

     Bush the Elder won on his second try, Nixon won on his second (what happened in his second term is totally irrelevant to his first election), and Dole was on his third (he also ran in 1980 as well as ’88).

    Our first-attempt candidates were Goldwater, Ford, and Bush the Younger.  1/3 vs 3/5 for second-chancers.  So the odds actually favor the second-chance candidates, don’t they?

  17. Adjoran
    February 20th, 2012 @ 3:42 am

    So you’re “just asking questions” – like the 9/11 Truthers, right?  Or do you have actual evidence for your ridiculous insinuation?

  18. EBL
    February 20th, 2012 @ 4:40 am

    Reynolds is but I guess he take seriously when Rick Santorum says he wants to drive libertarians out of the GOP (which I still have no idea why Rick Santorum would say something so stupid in a very close election).  

  19. SDN
    February 20th, 2012 @ 6:22 am

     Roxanne, you hit the nail on the head, as I told Insty in an e-mail, but you need to expand on Mittens’ behavior:

    Then people really started digging into the end results of
    Romneycare in MA, including the drop in providers, the exploding
    costs, the extra taxes. They realized that Romneycare couldn’t be
    made to work at ANY level.

    At that point, the only thing that could have saved Romney was to
    denounce Romenycare, vow to repeal Obamacare, and pronounce a mea
    maxima culpa for ever coming up with the monster.

    Romney didn’t do that. Not even close.

    Instead, he did the same thing Obama does: he doubled down. He
    defended Romneycare as sound policy, as something that could work,
    and then applied a 10th Amendment fig leaf. He said Obamacare could
    be made to work if it was tweaked a little. No need for outright
    repeal. “It’s not worth getting angry over.” Like Hell.

    At that point, the terms ORomney and ORomneycare entered the
    language, and people started looking at his other announcements. On
    cap-and-trade, on gun control, on everything. The first thing they
    found was that he had been on all sides of every issue, depending on
    what he was running for. And the second thing was that when he was
    actually in a position to fight…. he was “too proud to fight”… 
    when he wasn’t on the wrong side outright.

    The other thing is that in 2008, Romney was running against McCain,
    who’s probably the only “Republican” besides John Huntsman or the
    Maine twins who could make Romney actually look conservative. Much
    like today, where most conservatives are simply voting for the most
    conservative candidate left. And Romney’s track record while in
    power, combined with the proven spinelessness of the Republican
    leadership of the House and Senate, gives most of us real doubts
    about what he’ll do, and how much the Congress will be willing to

  20. ThePaganTemple
    February 20th, 2012 @ 7:40 am

     You nailed it.

  21. ThePaganTemple
    February 20th, 2012 @ 7:44 am

     Mitt has a history of using federal law and money to further his own ends, beginning when he acquired hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds for the Olympics, which he then took credit for saving.

    And then there’s green energy, another bandwagon he jumped on, both politically and through Bain financially, by investing in green energy companies.

    So why should it be so hard to believe that he might profit from Obamacare? It’s his modus operandi. Far from a conspiracy theory, its something that warrants looking into.

  22. ThePaganTemple
    February 20th, 2012 @ 7:46 am

     Flip-flopping crapweasely PIMP is more like it, selling the people whatever disease ridden government slut he thinks he can fuck us all with.

  23. Pathfinder's wife
    February 20th, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    Yeah, that’s pretty stupid.

  24. ThePaganTemple
    February 20th, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    Ford was VP when he ran for President, you can’t just ignore that. That would be like ignoring Nixon had been Eisenhower’s VP when he ran in 1960.  Ford was the establishment candidate, and so was Nixon in 1960, though not necessarily in 68. Interestingly enough, they might have preferred George Romney then, but he imploded. We are of the hopes that his son will repeat his legacy.

    Goldwater was the result of “the people” taking over the party, and he never had the support of the establishment. Plus, he was running against an incumbent who benefited from the allure of “Camelot” due to the “martyrdom” of Kennedy.

    Had the conservatives taken over the party four years later, it might have been an entirely different result. That they were unable to consolidate their holdings and build on them in 68 led to the rise of Wallace. Had a conservative populist won the GOP primary, Wallace would not have won five states or for that matter any, and the greatly disliked Humphrey might have fallen to the Republicans that year by a larger margin than what Nixon managed to squeak by at thanks solely to Wallace.

    We’ve had tons of Republican moderates to show us how to lose elections. The only moderates who’ve ever won were war hero Eisenhower and Reagan VP Bush, who went on to lose reelection mainly because he was a moderate, and Bush Jr., who was wrongly assumed by most to be conservative. Incumbent Ford lost, Dole lost, McCain lost. Yet these fucking moderates still control the party. That’s the problem.

    It’s not that they don’t know any better, its that they don’t give a shit, as long as they retain their positions of power in the party and keep the money, perks, earmarks and contracts coming in.

  25. Pathfinder's wife
    February 20th, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

    Beware the “too purdy man”!

  26. Wombat_socho
    February 20th, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

     I think it’s more a case of his sheer viciousness in going after whoever the leading “not-Romney” is with his super-PACs while acting all innocent. That’s turned a lot of people off.

  27. Pathfinder's wife
    February 20th, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    Of course, on further thought it must be said: the libertarians are being very stupid as well if they don’t think social issues aren’t tied into the economy, and some libertarians’ positions on said issues haven’t been a big contribution to the problem.

    Thoughtful libertarians need to consider that some of their ideological fellow travelers support ideas that will ultimately lead to economic ruin and less liberty (and are rightly criticized).  Extremes of anything, even good things, become bad.

  28. DaveO
    February 20th, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

    Romney’s attack ads lend credence to the message from Bain Capital: Romney is a destroyer, and will do only what is best for Romney.

    Currently, Romney’s destroying his potential allies. Wonder if Lindsey Graham will be his Veep nominee?

  29. Winston Churchill
    February 21st, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

     Claiming Glenn Reynolds is stupid is the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.