-By Warner Todd Huston
Romney is not conservative. Anyone that says he’s conservative is only trying to convince themselves and is willfully ignoring not only Romney’s entire executive record when he was governor of Massachusetts, but ignoring all the tell-tale signs that his current conservative-tinged campaign rhetoric is just a show to get the nomination. Romney doesn’t mean a word of what he says. But we still hold the power to force him to stay on a more or less conservative path if he wins the White House.
How can I say Romney is basically lying to us?
Well, his executive record aside — which is clearly center left, not conservative — let’s not take my word for it all. Let’s take the word of his advisers.
On CNN on March 21, for instance, senior Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom was asked about Romney’s strategy in the general should he get that far. Fehrnstrom was asked if there is a concern that the other GOP candidates have made made Romney “tack so far to the right that it would hurt him with moderate voters in the general election.”
“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the Fall campaign everything changes,” Fehrnstrom replied. “It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch, you can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”
That’s right. Fehrnstrom is directly saying that all Romney’s conservative rhetoric today will be quickly jettisoned and he’ll be back to his moderate, center left ideals when he’s comfortably set up as the GOP nominee. This should surprise no one. There have been a lot of other things that shows Romney isn’t a conservative. His staunch support for Romenycare and his constant lies about how he never advocated it for a national model is another example.
Romney claims to stand on Constitutional principles with Romneycare claiming that it is a 10th Amendment issue. Technically, Romney is right that the 10th allows the states to experiment in ideas like Romneycare, but that fact isn’t at issue. What is at issue is that Romney thought these horrid ideas might be good ideas in the first place! The fact that he went for these ideas to begin with shows he is no conservative.
OK, Romney’s not anywhere near a conservative. But he certainly is scads more conservative than the most Marx-inspired president in American history and we have to work to defeat this man and put Romney in his place if Romney proves to be the “Mr. Inevitable” he was portrayed as being last year.
So, how do we conservatives stomach him?
One thing we should note is that Romney is pushed by the electoral tides. If he thinks it will benefit him, he’ll go conservative. We just need to keep the pressure on to make sure he understands it behooves him to go with conservative ideas. He may be unmoored to conservative ideals, but he’ll likely stick with them if he’s pushed that way.
This point brings up the way that a shiftless Mitt Romney could be good for both the country and the conservative cause but it isn’t because he cares at all about conservative issues. We can’t expect Romney to champion conservative ideas himself, either. But think about this. What does an unmoored boat do but drift with the tide? This is where, if played correctly, Romney could actually work for conservatives.
In fact, a President Romney could be good for Congress no matter which side of the political divide is in control. And control is the word, too.
For far too long Congress has been slowly giving away its Constitutional powers to legislate. Through sloth and for selfish re-election needs Congressmen have been allowing the courts to take an unconstitutional role in determining our legislation as well as standing aside as one president after another grabs power that he wasn’t supposed to have unto the executive branch — the latter of which both left and right have complained about for decades but done nothing to stop.
Up until today we’ve had presidents with strong ideological principles that serve as the guide by which they’ve made policy. Clinton had a liberalism tempered by some economic centrism, George W. Bush his “compassionate conservatism.” Reagan came to Washington with specific ideals on what he wanted to achieve and Obama has too, though in the entirely opposite direction as Ron’s.
But Mitt Romney is a marshmallow. He’s been on every side of every issue throughout his decades as a politician. These days, of course, he’s edged toward conservatism and this gives conservatives an “in” if you will.
I am not suggesting that Romney will stay with these principles. A recent Romney apology by Michael Gerson weakly claimed that because Romney has switched to conservative ideals this time around he’d look too foolish to switch again. But that is simply poppycock. Once a flip flopper always a flip flopper. He’ll easily justify the next flip flop and it will only be Gerson left looking foolish.
So, here is the good news. The fact that Romney is easily led by the political winds gives Speaker Boehner as well as Congressional conservatives the opportunity to become an unmoored president’s pilot. If Boehner and conservatives make their issues winners, this will lead President Romney by the nose down the right path.
The best thing is it gives Congress the opportunity to again take back some of its powers and begin to right the ship of state (if I can get nautical again for a moment).
But it will take a concerted effort to push these conservative issues. None of this working with the left business will do. Romney, will likely start bending his newfound conservative ideas the first time the intelligentsia at The New York Times squawk at his policy ideas. He’ll likely rediscover his linguine spine the second some Democrat calls his conservative policy ideas “racist.” He’ll suddenly want to “work with” every left-winger that comes down the pike.
But because he has no real principles he’ll be apt to pushes from conservatives, as well. If we mount a strong campaign of conservative ideas, budget cuts and all, we can keep a President Romney on the straight and narrow. But it will require a very active Congress not a Congress content to let everyone else take the lead so that at election time they can point fingers everywhere else.
Conservative ideas are winners with the voters. We’ve seen many issues come our way in the last few decades. Abortion is becoming less popular every year. Pro-Second Amendment issues are such winners that the Democrats hardly even talk about their gun banning ideas any more. People are down on unions, agree that government is too large, and think that taxes are too high. These winning issues can only get stronger if Congress pushes them hard. And a weak President Romney will give conservatives the opportunity they need to push his presidency in the right direction.
But I’ll leave you with this reiteration: the left will have the very same opportunity to push a weak-willed President Romney. So, we can’t just sit back and enjoy a win if Romney should happen to win both the GOP primary and the 2012 general election. The second Romney enters the White House our work must begin in earnest. Don’t wait for this flip flopper to take the lead. Push him, conservatives, push him. If you don’t you’ll be on the outside looking in as Romney is bent, twisted, and mutilated by the political left.
If Mitt Romney wins our nomination and then goes on to win the presidency we all must work to make his presidency a conservative one quite despite his own inclinations.