Thursday, February 07, 2008

McCain and Romney

McCain hatred on the right. It's that bad. Romney's exit was the last straw for some:

You think McCain will fight a war? You’re so stupid. McCain’s goal is to give Democrats everything they want while leaving Republicans to take the blame. McCain will reach across the aisle and lose the war. McCain will reach across the aisle to appoint leftist judges. McCain will reach across the aisle to raise taxes. McCain will reach across the aisle to impose HillaryCare. McCain will reach across the aisle at any time necessary to screw Conservatives.

I WILL NOT VOTE FOR JOHN McCAIN. McCain cannot win anyway, but to be sure, I have joined the growing cadre of suicide voters: I will vote for the Clintons over McCain.

Some of you pathetic, spineless CINOs are bowing to fear and caving to threats and supporting McCain. SHAME ON YOUR SORRY ASSES.

Let Bill and Hillary destroy the country and let Democrats take the rap for it. WHEN AMERICANS ARE SICK AND TIRED OF DEMOCRAT FASCISM, ONLY THEN WILL REPUBLICANS HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN.

If McCain wins, he will gurantee a Democrat majority for DECADES if not a CENTURY to come.


Romney's withdrawal speech. Nothing makes me feel more like a liberal than listening to someone try to talk like a conservative built from a kit. This looks pretty hollow to me.

If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror. ... I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.

And if the situation had been reversed after Super Tuesday? If he was ahead, but not commandingly, in the delegate count and Huckabee and McCain were close enough to hobble him through the summer and perhaps prevail in a brokered convention? It would have been up to the other two to see America's best interest lay in a quick GOP unity -- but not his job, brother, in that case? Waterloo was won on the playing fiends of Eaton; was the Jihad War won in the voting booths of California?

Romney takes a little swipe at France -- probably more for the crowd's sake than his own (I like to think he's more worldly-wise than to think France ever was "the leader of the world" except for a couple of scattered half-decades in the 1800s). He quotes Peres on America being unique in world history in winning its modern wars without claiming territory from its foes. I'm proud of that, too, but I also realize global realities shape that. It's far more economical to get the rights to some bases, get some key economic concessions, and leave the locals in charge than it is to take over wholesale. Iraq is a lesson in both halves of that.

Unless you're the Soviet Union and can rule with an iron fist and wall out all world media, wars of conquest aren't going to work for you anymore. I'm glad we've been savvy enough to recognize that.

But I don't think that's particularly "conservative."

Next up, "the attack on the American culture." Culture makes a difference. I agree. America's culture is optimistic, opportunistic, driven by faith and values. Yes, it is. The line about "those who don’t have faith, typically believe in something greater than themselves" is an odd one, but as one of those addressed, I'll take any gesture at inclusion nowadays. If I have to admit there's something greater than me to be included, whatever.

Still the passage walks a narrow bridge. The optimism and opportunism aren't really "in our DNA." They're the result of continually refreshing the population with immigrants who come here with those values foremost. The values recede with each generation, as the family finds either success or failure to be its lot here. The dependents and defeatists Romney bemoans among us are sprung from the same stock as the rest of us. So ... more immigration = more American values?

The typical conservative critique of liberal social policies:

The threat to our culture comes from within. The 1960’s welfare programs created a culture of poverty. Some think we won that battle when we reformed welfare, but the liberals haven’t given up. At every turn, they try to substitute government largesse for individual responsibility. They fight to strip work requirements from welfare, to put more people on Medicaid, and to remove more and more people from having to pay any income tax whatsoever. Dependency is death to initiative, risk-taking and opportunity. Dependency is a culture-killing drug—we have got to fight it like the poison it is!

As the son of a social worker, I've seen that at close range. The relentless desire to help in the short term, in the individual case, without regard for consequences and social structures. When the stink and suffering is right in front of you, it's difficult not to want to do that. To not do it because of a -- legitimate -- awareness of social consequences still leaves you with a diminished humanity, and seems quite contrary to the examples of the world's religious teachers. You become more like the nature documentary videographer who calmly films the footage of baby turtles being eaten by sea birds rather than picking the damned things up and carrying them to safety in the surf.

Then back to faith. The "relentless" "attack on faith and religion." Then, somehow, pornography has a large share of blame for the abyssmal state of the black family. I've had a few detours through porn emporiums in my time; if anything, the clientele was disproportionately white and married.

As a divorced father, I also can't seem to find it in me to blame me for the failure of America's youth. "A nation built on the principles of the founding fathers cannot long stand when its children are raised without fathers in the home." I agree kids need constant exposure to strong and visible fathers or father-figures. It's odd, though, that Romney ties this to the Founders. I can't imagine the family structure of blacks in America was much more stable and secure when slavery was universal in America than it is today.

White nuclear families, too, were highly fragmented in those years by frequent early deaths of parents and indentures and legal apprenticeships. Among my ancestors, whose families were stable and relatively prosperous citizens of Pennsylvania and Maryland, it was customary for a boy to be sent out when young to live with an uncle or other relative or neighbor and "learn farming" during his formative years. That's not the same as a broken and drug-infested family, of course, but it shows there was more than one way to get the thing done.

Yet for Romney this circles back not to the difficult realities of drug addiction and persistent poverty (which persisted among many families even before the government cemented it in place under the guise of trying to help), or to the historical structure of American families, but to legalized gay marriage. It's inspired! I don't think even a liberal could be creative enough to blame an existing problem on something that hadn't happened yet.

Back to Europe, which is "facing a demographic disaster." Which, he says, is "the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality." More points for the creativity. In one passage, lack of religion is repsonsible for sexual promiscuity and strewing unwanted children across the landscape. In another, the same cause is responsible for a lack of children altogether.

The other half of Europe's demographic mess -- and it is a problem -- is immigration. But again, Romney chose not to go there.

It always seems to me, too, that the native population decline in many of the ancient nations of Europe might have something to do with historical demographics: Namely, the deaths of hundreds of millions of Europeans in warfare and failed social systems in the last century. That might have something to do with there not being so many of them there now. But an excess of nationalistic zeal and willingness to fight doesn't figure into Romney's diagnosis of Europe's sickness.

Some reason that culture is merely an accessory to America’s vitality; we know that it is the source of our strength. And we are not dissuaded by the snickers and knowing glances when we stand up for family values, and morality, and culture. We will always be honored to stand on principle and to stand for principle.

And I'm genuinely appreciative of that. I'd far rather live in a country where a significant number of people do that -- even when the terms are vague or undefined -- than in one where no one does. I join them in that defense and defy the snickerers, whom I would remind that even Voltaire and Jefferson appreciated the need for religion in a nation. I'm somewhat concerned, however, about the tendency to take a very narrow and one-dimensional reading of words like "virtue." If you go down that path, you look more and more like our current deadly enemies (and in some cases, oil-producing allies) in the Middle East.

Romney's back on track sounding the warning about global economics. But every candidate is saying this. He's right about energy independence, too. "America must never be held hostage by the likes of Putin, Chavez, and Ahmendinejad." But again I don't think anyone in either party is saying, "why not?" to that. It also interests me to know that Putin, Chavez, and Ahmendinejad maintain their hold on power in large part by playing on their people's paranoia and misunderstanding about Americans. I'd like to see some more creative and plausible plans for addressing that.

He's right about entitlements. "Depress the private sector and you depress the well-being of Americans." Right.

Did you see that today, government workers make more money than people who work in the private sector. Can you imagine what happens to an economy where the best opportunities are for bureaucrats?

Excellent line.

And finally, let’s consider the greatest challenge facing America — and facing the entire civilized world: the threat of violent, radical Jihad. In one wing of the world of Islam, there is a conviction that all governments should be destroyed and replaced by a religious caliphate. These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy — to them, democracy is blasphemous for it says that citizens, not God shape the law. They find the idea of human equality to be offensive. They hate everything we believe about freedom just as we hate everything they believe about radical Jihad.

There was a time when I probably would have agreed with most of that. And there was a time when the facts seemed to bear that out. And much of it remains true. But it underestimates the suppleness of the enemy. "These Jihadists will battle any form of democracy" -- but they've proven themselves adept as well at exploiting it to their ends. "They find the idea of human equality to be offensive" -- but they often take up that term and use it in their rhetoric; they merely define the true equality as God's rule, in their faith. Words are traitorious things. They won't fight just for you.

Rise to meet new threats, yes. But "purchase the most modern armament" and "re-shape our fighting forces for the asymmetric demands we now face" are not necessarily the same thing. In fact, they might work against each other in many cases. Getting back those 80 ships scrapped under Clinton (I don't think the Navy was pleading to keep them all) probably would do us less good at this point than selling the scrap and using the proceeds to buy some Arabic language lessons.

And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat.

He could at least have acknowledged that they don't go around promising to "declare defeat." That that is his interpretation of their statements. Better to have gone at them instead by reminding the audience that their idea of getting out of Iraq a.s.a.p. is more short-term policy with extremely dangerous consequences.

Then comes the withdrawal. And patriotic boilerplate.

Exeunt Romney and handsome family, stage right