Saturday, February 2, 2008

Defending Romney

Jon Chait (once again) on the Mitt-Man (subscription required).

Last year, The Boston Globe obtained his campaign strategy document laying out what it called "Primal Code for Brand Romney." "Primal" is a perfect description for Romney's view of the GOP base. He approaches conservatism not as a respectable ideology but as a series of (in Lionel Trilling's famous phrase) irritable mental gestures. The strategy memo suggests he drive home the message "Hillary = France." Romney has promised to "double Guantanamo" and demanded that Mike Huckabee apologize for criticizing President Bush's foreign policy. This is like a Hollywood parody of a right-wing Republican--think "Bob Roberts," or Tom Cruise's character in Lions for Lambs--but more clever.

If Romney's public sentiments were more intelligent than this, I'd fear he actually believed it. Giuliani's conservatism, to offer up one contrast, is intelligent enough for me to think he genuinely buys into it but still dumb enough for me to fear for the future of our country if he manages to win the election. The mindless tribalism of Romney's pandering is paradoxically reassuring. The form his pandering takes is a measure of the contempt in which he holds the electorate in general and Bush-era Republicans in particular. I share his sentiments completely.
Beyond the cynicism that tends to run through Chait's columns ('I respect him because he doesn't respect his base') I'd agree with this. Romney is not a genuine right-wing idealogue, he just pretends to be one so they will hopefully vote for him.

While I don't find this particularly honorable, it's better than John McCain commitment too nationalism and militarism, not to mention the lunacies of Paul and Huckabee. In comparison, Romney's pandering aristocratic Republicanism looks down-right respectable.

No comments: