I’ve just watched Mitt Romney’s CPAC speech. He is a very good, dynamic speaker, obviously smart and capable, and he struck all the acceptable conservative notes. He is definitely a prospect and a very likely alternative to the totally unacceptable Giuliani. The first thing he did was bring up his wife to the dais to say hello … that’s his first and only wife of 38 years (in contrast to Giuliani’s crass and nakedly ambitious third wife of five years), who, moreover, looks fantastic and has a great personality. In 2000 I based my expectation of a Bush victory partly on the fact that Tipper Gore looked like an aging hippie and Laura Bush looked like a First Lady. Mrs. Romney looks like a First Lady.

Speaking to the conservative audience, Romney identified himself as a conservative, making it sound as if he has been one all his life. Now we all know that this is not true. We know that in 1994 Romney ran for the U.S. Senate as a liberal, saying, “I believe in the same things as Sen. Kennedy, but I can do a better job of achieving them.” But, for reasons I will explain, Romney’s self-evidently false presentation of himself as a life-long conservative of conviction did not seem insincere to me and did not offend me. A smart political observer said to me recently that Romney is an opportunist, but he is an opportunist you can count on. He may bring a girl to the dance for political reasons, but he will stay with the girl he brought. And that’s the way he struck me in his speech. He was marrying himself to conservative principles and the conservative movement in a way that I think can be reasonably counted on in the event he becomes president.

On specific issues, he opposes the Kennedy-McCain amnesty bill and said in strong tones that he opposes amnesty, though he fell short of any absolute pledge that he would never support any amnesty or anything that has the effects of amnesty. He emphasized that as governor of Massachusetts he had opposed drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens and had authorized state employees to enforce federal immigration law. He said he would seek the repeal of McCain-Feingold. He said, “Marriage must come before children because all children deserve a mother and a father.” (How different from George W. Bush in 2000 lauding “single moms” because they “have the toughest job in America.”) He said America must remain the number one military power in the world and that this requires that America remain the number one economic power in the world.

By the way, maybe Romney’s weird religious background is a plus. Mormons are known for their morality and the strength of their families. Bush was the “family values” candidate in 2000, yet in reality he has a very liberal family and very liberal wife and they produced two sleazy daughters. As for Giuliani’s family, no one has even seen his children since his swearing in as Mayor on January 1, 1994.

Romney makes up all the deficits of Giuliani, and, while Giuliani has some definite strengths, I don’t see any key advantages that Giuliani has over him.

This is not an endorsement of Romney for the GOP nomination. I am not even a Republican. But I am relieved and happy to realize that we are not, as had appeared to be the case, stuck with the miserable choice in 2008 between Hillary Clinton (or the less unacceptable Barack Obama, who I personally think is favored over Hillary for the nomination) on one side, and the talented but totally unacceptable Rudy Giuliani on the other. There had seemed to be no plausible Republican candidate with good moral character and a firm stand against amnesty who could stop the Democrats in ’08 and be expected to govern in a reasonably conservative fashion. But, lifting the gloom, Romney now appears to be that man.

- end of initial entry -

Gintas J. writes:

I could vote for such a decent man. We’ll have to see how it all shakes out during the campaign grilling he will get. If he stands his ground, he is serious. But there has simply got to be some natural suspicion of someone who managed to get himself elected governor of Marxachusetts as a Republican!

LA replies:

Well, Coulter (who eviscerated Giuliani as way too liberal) cleverly reversed the usual conservative take on Romney and said she was very impressed by a conservative who could persuade liberal Massachusetts voters to support him.

David L. writes:

I too “fell” as you have for the debonair, suave Man Tan Romney. But I awoke from that slumber and realized the error of my ways. I was considering voting for him, but will not do so now.

For one simple reason: George Bush and Jeb Bush in particular have thrown their support—and advisors—behind Romney! How can anyone support a Republican who is supported by our traitor-in-chief and his idiot brother, both of whom coddle illegal aliens (the brother married a Mexican, in point of fact)?

You are more than welcome to support Mr. Man Tan. He’s a helluva good looking guy. But after nearly 6.5 years of another RINO globalist, I’d think you would be a bit more careful.

You are correct that he has a likewise stunning looking wife who I’m sure is a nice lady. However, what happens once he’s elected? Will he go back to his liberal ways? Will he shut down the Invasion (we ARE being invaded, you know)? Will he stop the offshoring of U.S. companies? Will he tell Congress to slap major tariffs on Red Chinese goods? Will he be a populist, supporting “the little guy”? Will he get us out of Iraq?

The problem is, one cannot know the answers to these important questions. Flip floppers make it even harder to gage a candidate. Me? I’ll take my chances with the three outsiders, Tancredo, Hunter and Paul. If they all drop out and if it’s Romney vs Hillary, I really don’t know for certain what I’ll do. My vote won’t count, anyway—I live in Hillary’s next most supportive state other than NY, and we have a winner take all situation. That’s another thing that needs changing that will unfortunately never be changed—getting rid of the electoral college and winner-take-all. A simple majority vote.

LA replies:

This is not about my personal vote for president. I haven’t voted for a Republican for president since 1992. But still, either the Republican candidate or the Democratic candidate will be elected president in 2008, and to discover that we are not doomed to having the cross-dresser, public adulterer, wife-smearer, illegal alien supporter Giuliani as the GOP nominee lifts the spirits.

Also, the fact that Bush is tilting toward Romney (assuming it’s true) doesn’t tell us anything definite about Romney. I don’t think that the fact that someone you don’t like supports a candidate is sufficient reason, by itself, to oppose that candidate.

Reader C. replies:

I agree with your reply. And let me add that the same sentiment prompts me to wonder why the right wing media tries to mock and put down Obama. Imagine if in the ‘08 campaign we don’t have to have EITHER the wife-smearer OR the dragon lady? ‘Twould be heaven to be alive in those days!

David L. writes back:

I had no idea that Giuliani was or had been a cross dresser, even in fun. That makes me dislike the man even more. In my humble opinion, Giuliani and McCain should be in the Democratic Party. They aren’t Republicans and they aren’t conservative in any way. McCain is an abysmal failure. His state is where the Invasion by Mexico has been and continues to be most prominent. He’s done nothing to stop it in the decades he’s bee in office. That alone should disqualify him from seeking higher office.

People love Giuliani apparently because he’s a likable guy, the only current candidate with any charisma. That’s a blow to other candidates who don’t have that charisma, because they are lackluster and unexciting. Let the liberals in the GOP as well as some idiot conservatives vote for and support Giuliani. I could care less.

It all comes down to whether Romney can “reach out” in a serious way to conservatives and convince them to vote for him. He needs to come out strongly against the Invasion from Mexico and he needs to talk about what he’ll do about it if elected. He needs to talk tough against Red China. He needs to come out strongly for gun ownership and the right to defend one’s property, family, etc. He will not get enough conservative votes if he just pays “lip service” to these and other crucial issues. If he tries to talk around these issues and not take them head on, he’ll lose.

The lesser of two evils will (as it has every year since 1988) win out and some conservatives will undoubtedly come back to the fold. Others, like me, probably will not. It’s the Constitution Party for some of us, write-ins for others or stay at home. Whoever is elected, we’ll get what we deserve.

LA replies:

Not only is Giuliani a cross-dresser, he’s a repeat cross-dresser.
David L. replies:
“Also, David, the fact that Bush it tilting toward Romney (assuming it’s true) doesn’t tell us anything definite about Romney. I don’t think that the fact that someone you don’t like supports a candidate is sufficient reason, by itself, to oppose that candidate.”

I totally disagree. If you found out that David Duke was supporting Romney, wouldn’t that concern you? It would me.

Pardon the generalized statement, but what conservatives and Americans in general you loathe Bush and wish he were out of office yesterday don’t want to do is elect another RINO—a person who pretends to be something he won’t be when elected. We simply can’t afford to be wrong again—hence the hesitation to get behind Romney.

In fact, I’ve heard from some conservatives that if Giuliani or Romney are nominated, that they’ll vote for Hillary. Probably a small number, but that’s how strongly they feel about the “lesser of two evils” argument we get every 4 years ad nauseum.

LA replies:


“If you found out that David Duke was supporting Romney, wouldn’t that concern you?”

Not necessarily. Suppose you found out in 1984 that David Duke was supporting Reagan? Would that have made you not support Reagan?

Second, this discussion is somewhat misstating my situation in relation to this issue and what I am saying to others. I have not voted for a GOP candidate for president since 1992. So the topic here is not whether I would vote for Romney (though it’s not impossible that I would), or about whether other traditionalist conservatives should vote for Romney. It’s about whether among those likely to become president there is an acceptable prospect who can prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president. My blog entry was about the cheering realization that we are not doomed to either Hillary or Rudy, but that there is a much more decent person out there who obviously has political talents and has also publicly married himself to conservative positions.

Third, what if Romney pledges firmly not to support amnesty in any form? Would that alter your view?

David L. replies:

If he took such a pledge on a Bible? Yes. But I doubt he’ll take a pledge of any kind to halt the invasion and to instruct DHS really to do its job and go after MacDonald’s and other big U.S. and multi-national corporations who have millions of illegal aliens in their employ.

I think too a lot of us are wary of any politician coming out of Socialist Mass. He didn’t get elected there campaigning as a conservative, hence more concern over his trying to be as Bush is to one group as he is to another—an empty suit.

A good looking empty suit, to be sure!


But what if he is an empty suit who genuinely commits himself to good positions and stays with them?

Paul Henri writes:

You said, “he is an opportunist you can count on. He may bring a girl to the dance for political reasons, but he will stay with the girl he brought. And that’s the way he struck me in his speech.”

I suggest giving evidence to support this proposition. If your weakened condition prevents you from supplying evidence, you can say merely, “I am intrigued by Romney, but we must investigate this new traditionalist.” I think you pretty much did this, but I still suggest a clear statement of your skepticism in the future.

I am inclined toward Tancredo even though he is not a communicator. But he is committed to the most vital issue facing America: whether to allow plentiful Mexican and Islamic illegal and legal immigration. The others I have yet to study.

LA replies:

The gravamen of Paul’s complaint is that I have not expressed enough scepticism about Romney, and that I am treating my intuitions about Romney as though they were facts. I admit, as I’ve already said (“that’s the way he struck me in his speech”), that these are intuitions not facts. But they are intuitions of positive possibilities that did not exist before. Before this, there were no good possibilities. For the last two years we’ve been inundated with the miserable inevitability that either cross-dressing Guiliani or mad McCain would be the GOP nominee. Now we’re free of that. Now there is a talented, wholesome, plausible candidate speaking with all apparent sincerity about his commitment to conservative principles.

There are other factors, or, if you like, reasonable speculations, supporting a hopeful view of this.

First, as odd as this sounds, is the fact that Romney is already known not to have had a long record or reputation as a conservative. Therefore his commitment of himself to conservatism is a very striking and unusual thing. He is pretty much obligated to stay true to these positions or he would be completely discredited. In other words, since he does not have a track record of conservatism to lean on, the main thing he has to lean on is his word in the matter. This makes his word more reliable than it would otherwise be. Compare that to McCain who for the last 15 years every time he has opened his mouth has piously boasted that he’s a “proud” conservative because he’s pro-life (and he does have a pro-life record), even as he takes one liberal position after another. McCain has thus used his actual conservative record as a cover constantly to go to the left. Romney, by contrast, does not have such a conservative record to use as cover to go left, therefore he will actually have to govern as a conservative.

However, I acknowledge that the above is a guess, a reasonable speculation, not a fact.

Second, in his speech today, Romney truly sounded like someone who believes in conservatism. Now maybe that’s an act. But if it’s an act, it’s a very good one. If he can put on such a good act for this speech, that suggests he can put it on for the rest of his candidacy and for his presidency as well. That’s what I realized while listening to him, that what someone had said to me a few weeks ago—that Romney is an opportunist, but a “sincere” opportunist who could be counted on—was correct. This made the whole situation appear in a new light.

Third, for all this to be a lie, Romney would have to be huge liar. But the reality is that there’s a limit to how much a presidential candidate can lie. Some of the people who are leery of Romney refer to the fact that they don’t want to be fooled again as they were by Bush. But this is an incorrect representation of what happened with Bush. Bush in 2000 was pretty honest about his politics. He made “compassionate” conservatism, i.e., big-government conservatism, the central theme of his candidacy; i.e., he was telling us he was not a conservative and was not concerned with smaller government, and this turned out to be true. Along the same lines, he made unmarried mothers the most important people in America, in need of all kinds of support; obviously he was not very committed to traditional values and was committed to the state. He expressed the most extravagant support for the Hispanization of the United States; and this turned out to be true. So the things that conservatives have been most angry with him about, immigration and size of government, are things they don’t have a right to be angry about, because he told them truthfully where he was coming from, and they just didn’t want to hear it. (Yes, on some issues Bush lied, such as his commitment to nominating Supreme Court judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas and to oppose campaign finance reform.) Romney, by contrast, has not spoken of compassionate conservatism, he has spoken of the need to strengthen the economy. Romney has not (at least in today’s speech) sung the song of the open borders; he has said he’s against Kennedy-McCain and against amnesty. Of course, all pols, even Bush, say they are against amnesty, so clearly it’s too soon to endorse Romney on this front, but the signs are at least hopeful.

Finally, Romney may have taken different positions at different points in his career, but I’m not aware that he has a reputation of telling voters he is going to do one thing, and then doing the opposite once he is in office. (If anyone knows that he has done so, let us know.) In other words, he may be philosophically maleable over time, but he seems personally and politically honest and will keep his commitments. But again we do not know this about him and so a proper amount of skepticism is in order.

I hope I have now demonstrated to Paul that I am being sufficiently skeptical about Romney. But again, what I said in the original blog entry was not a definitive statement, but the opening up of a hopeful possibility that was not there before.

LA writes:

Also, I repeat that in 2000 and in 2004 I declined to vote for Bush, though the alternative in each case was a terrible Democrat. If nominee Romney does not take a meaningful stand on the national question, then I probably will decline to vote for him, even though the alternative will be Hillary or Obama. At the same time, having Romney as the alternative to Hillary is a heck of a lot better than having Giuliani or McCain as the alternative to Hillary.

Also, a dislosure, which I’ve made before. In a couple of important respects, I was fooled by Bush. While I did not vote for him, and certainly did not think he was intelligent (I thought he had just barely enough intelligence to do the job), I believed he was a man of good character and good judgment. I could not have been more wrong. Regarding his character, as president he has done some of the most despicable, contemptuous, small-minded things any president has done; two things that stand out are his standing next to the president of Mexico and calling the Minutemen vigilantes, and his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Regarding his judgment, his imperious commitment of America to a utopian global ideology, and in general his grandiose, bossy statements disconnected from reality, were not things I expected in 2000.

Maureen C. writes:

Have you read the Book of Mormon? Anyone who can believe the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s creative writing take-off on the Old Testament, does not have the necessary IQ to be president. Also, the Mormons are better organized and more secretive about their intentions than the Vatican. Also, the Mormons in Utah have been protecting the polygamists there for years, by causing state prosecuting officials to look the other way. No, if this United States, with all its brilliant people, cannot come up with a better presidential candidate than Romney, Hillary or Obama, we’re doomed.

LA replies:

I read a good deal of the Book of Mormon oa year or two ago, as much as I could stand. I’m astounded that any mentally normal person can believe that this fifth-rate parody and rip-off of the Bible is a genuine revelation, can believe that the charlatan Joseph Smith discovered it in Elmira, NY written on a metal scroll, and all the rest of it. So that’s one side of it. The other side is that Mitt Romney is evidently a rational, intelligent, competent, emotionally normal human being. So, how do we resolve this contradiction? I don’t know. My present position is that somehow Mormons are about an ethos and a way of life rather than about theological beliefs, and therefore the creedal aspects of Mormonism don’t affect them very much. Further, how has Mormonism intruded itself in any untoward way into Romney’s conduct as an office holder, into his intellect, his personality, his manners, his marriage? In all these respects he seems like a regular American Christian. I don’t see anything alien or weird about him. So I don’t know what significance his Mormonism has.

Reader C. replies:

I agree. Mormons themselves, many of whom are highly intelligent and moral, seem to transcend the ridiculous theology.

From the New York Times’ story, “Romney and Giuliani Make Pitch to Conservatives”:

Mr. Giuliani arrived to a rousing reception, but the room grew silent and restless as Mr. Giuliani wandered through a speech that lasted 40 minutes. By contrast, Mr. Romney arrived to a much more subdued reception but left to rousing applause.

“The governor knocked this speech out of the park,” said Paloma A. Zepeda, a marketing consultant and conservative blogger who said she came into the room with “serious doubts” about Mr. Romney, and left saying she was leaning toward supporting him. By contrast, she said, Mr. Giuliani “took a risk by coming to C.P.A.C., and he managed to not allay a single conservative fear about a Giuliani candidacy.”

Steven H. writes:

I agree with your assessment on Romney and understand your concerns about Giuliani since I share most of them. Unfortunately I believe that there is no chance of Romney winning the general election – none. Many elections are decided by a group of ill informed people who are unable to give a coherent explanation for the rationale behind their vote.

When Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s (Reid is a Mormon) sons were recently arrested for illegal possession of heroin and firearms, the people in the Philly area, which leans Left, started spewing venom about Mormons and their holier than thou view of themselves, what a bunch of religious kooks they are, etc. These are your so-called undecided’s—celebrity worshippers, sports freaks and the like. Your so-called average Americans. The Left along with the help of the media would have very little trouble demonizing this man.

I once was going to cast my Primary ballot for Romney. I can’t see myself doing this now since I see this as a vote for either Hillary or Obama. Our country may not survive such a presidency.

LA replies:

I gather that Steven is saying that since Hillary or Obama would wreck the country, and since Romney as a Mormon cannot beat them, Steven is going to support Giuliani.
Steven replies:

It looks that way. Romney is on tape touting his pro abortion stance as little as a year and a half ago and furthermore he brags about his mother’s pro abortion stance.

I actually think our best shot at getting good SCOTUS justices is through Rudy. McCain can’t be trusted on this account and even if Romney were to win, if he put up a Scalia type nominee the Lefties would be screaming bloody murder and with their spin on religious fanaticism in the media they could easily sway the ill informed sound bite oriented nit witted American voter. Romney may just change his view and nominee under such political pressure. These upcoming SCOTUS nominees will be a political war unto themselves.

They would be far less successful with this tactic against Rudy. Rudy could make his case better for these judges and keep the much needed backing of the base voters IMO.

LA replies:

Well, I disagree with Steven completely on this. This sounds like the standard line we hear so much from certain Republicans that the only way to win against the left is to move to the left ourselves. Every time it has been tried, that policy has been a disaster for conservatism.

Also, Steven contradicts himself. On one hand, he points out that Romney is not a conservative because he recently supported abortion. On the other hand, he fears that Romney would be attacked by the left as a right-wing religious extremist and so be paralyzed as president.

LA writes:

Further defenses of Giuliani have been posted here.

Maureen C. writes:

You write: “Further, how has Mormonism intruded itself in any untoward way into Romney’s conduct as an office holder, into his intellect, his personality, his manners, his marriage? In all these respects he seems like a regular American Christian. I don’t see anything alien or weird about him. So I don’t know what significance his Mormonism has.”

You point out that because Romney appears to be normal, that there may exist such a thing as “moderate” Mormonism; therefore, we need not be suspicious of Mormonism. We can relax because Mormons like Romney appear to have completely assimilated into the greater U.S. society.

Nevertheless, the Mormon cult abrogates the New Testament in favor of Smith’s “revelations.” One of those “improvements” was polygamy. In the late 19th century, the Mormon leadership in Utah renounced Smith’s tenet of polygamy only at the point of a Federal gun—the gun that today’s anti-monogamy and anti-Christian liberals would never use.

If we concede that the Mormon cult is an acceptable and “normal” modification of Christianity, what leg do we stand on when we say that Muslims also cannot show themselves to be “moderate”? In other words, why can’t Muslims, like the Mormons, ignore their Founder’s “corrections” to the New Testament. Why can’t Muslims renounce the establishment of Sharia law and polygamy?

It appears that you are making an unprincipled exception of the Mormon cult.

Religions never renounce their basic Scriptures. Someone always digs them up, dusts them off, and leads the faithful back to observing the letter of the law, as Ayatollah Khomeini did in Iran. The Mormons have established a mini-kingdom within the U.S. in Salt Lake City.

LA replies:

Obviously we need to inform ourselves more about Mormonism. But Maureen is making a parallel without content. If she believes that Mormonism is as dangerous to our society as Islam is, if she believes that Mormonism should be banned, or that Mormons should not be allowed to hold political office, then she needs to make an argument to that effect. If she is saying that a Romney presidency would advance this threatening Mormon agenda, then she needs to make that argument. But at this point I do not see Romney “carrying” his Mormonism or bringing it into the public square in any way, so it is hard for me to see that it is threatening.
Howard Sutherland writes:

Another reason to be cautious about Romney: previous Mormon politicians, especially re immigration and illegal aliens. “Dream Act” Hatch, Chris Cannon, Mike Leavitt: open borders enthusiasm and embrace of illegals is the default position.

Spencer Warren writes:

I liked Romney’s father, who was shafted by the press after his “brainwashing” comment re Vietnam. I remember Gov Romney’s despair at the ‘68 convention following Nixon’s nomination. So I am prepared to be open to Mitt. [LA replies: I don’t see the connection between Romney’s despair over being beaten by Nixon and any reason to support Mitt.]

Like you, I could not support Giuliani—probably. However, let me say that with Margaret Thatcher he is the most successful elected leader of our lifetime. I place Reagan just below because after his first year he did little domestically other than hold down spending. G and T pushed through many profound reforms, Reagan did not domestically and really did not try after 1981. Giuliani also is smarter than any other candidate and is the strongest as a leader. I think he will win every debate he enters. He is a two-fisted New Yorker and I like that. But I fully share your reasons for opposing him.

I think Tom Tancredo is the best man in the race. I saw his CPAC speech. He continues to show he is a man of character. He started by attacking Bush pere and fils, saying he is not a hyphenated conservative like those who speak of “kinder and gentler” and “compassionate conservatism.” Unfortunately, he spoke like a good congressman, not a party leader. His speech needs a lot of work. So he did not make a strong impact.

Brownback gave a poor speech; he of course voted with Kennedy and Mccain on the immigration bill.

David L. writes:

Have you seen/heard the following, shot poorly from a cellcam?

Towards the end, the blathering Romney proves he’s not much different than Bush and other Globalists—the difference being, he believes in giving illegal aliens a National ID Card that proves who they are and [that] will allow them to stay in the U.S. (illegally) and work (illegally). He doesn’t mention “who” will enforce the law requiring them to “go home” first before coming back into the U.S. and he doesn’t explain “how.” He keeps referring to his “great team,” some of whom he admits are smarter than he is. What he doesn’t say is the fact that some Americans not on his “team” are a lot smarter than he thinks we are! He also unequivocably states that he “will NOT round up 12 million or however many millions of illegals that are in the U.S..” He further emphasizes how much he “loves immigration”! Basically, then, he has stated he is not much different than Bush on the Invasion.

Needless to say, any previous positive feelings towards Romney the candidate went out the window after viewing this video. If other conservatives are so desperate that they want to vote for another RINO governor or former governor for president, they are more than happy to do so. Personally, I’d rather have our acknowledged enemies in the White House.

LA replies:

In other words, Romney is against legalizing them, but, because the only alternative he can imagine to letting them stay is rounding them all up, he wants them to stay here under a special dispensation, in which they are formally seen as illegal, but in actuality they are normalized. Great.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 02, 2007 04:35 PM | Send

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