Don’t light your hair on fire, Mitt
By Marc A. Thiessen,
Why won’t Mitt Romney let me like him? Every time I start to make peace with the idea of a Romney nomination, he goes and says something like this: “You know, it’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments. We’ve seen throughout the campaign if you’re willing to say really outrageous things… you’re going to jump up in the polls. I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support.”
So this is what Mitt Romney thinks of conservatives? That we’re excitable masses who want him to “say really outrageous things” and “light his hair on fire”? With all respect, that is precisely how the left views the conservative movement — a bunch of mindless radicals driven not by ideas but by “incendiary” rhetoric. Apparently the GOP frontrunner shares their assessment of his conservative base.
What conservatives want is not for Mitt Romney to light his hair on fire. We want a nominee who will lead us into battle against President Obama this fall under a banner of bold ideas. We want another Ronald Reagan. But the sad reality is there is no new Reagan coming to the rescue. This election will not be a choice between Obama and another Reagan. It will be a choice between a second Obama term and a second Bush term … as in Bush 41.
Electing a transformational conservative president may not be in the cards this November — but stopping a transformational liberal president still is. Consider the consequences if Obama gets a second term: Obamacare will not be repealed. The unprecedented levels of spending in Obama’s first four years will become the new floor, as America sets new records for fiscal profligacy and debt. Job creators will face massive tax increases, and more Americans will come off the tax rolls — resulting in fewer citizens with a stake in keeping taxes low and more with a stake in protecting benefits. Government dependency, already at record levels, will continue to grow. Four lost years in dealing with the entitlement crisis will become eight — digging us into a hole from which we may not be able to emerge. Obama, unworried about the impact of gas and electricity prices on his reelection, will finally wage the regulatory war on fossil fuels the left demands. He will unleash the Environmental Protection Agency to impose crushing new burdens on U.S. business. His administration’s assault on religious freedom will go on and expand to new areas. The Defense Department will be gutted, with cuts so deep that America will no longer be a superpower. Obama could have the opportunity to appoint more liberal Supreme Court justices, ending the Roberts court in all but name for a generation.
Oh, and the oceans will continue to rise.
A second Obama term would impose potentially irrevocable damage on our country. So the question Republicans need to ask is not whether Romney is our ideal conservative candidate, but can he defeat Obama? In South Carolina, it didn’t seem he could. But then Romney took the gloves off. He faced down serious challenges from Gingrich in Florida and then Santorum in Michigan. With those victories it appeared that a candidate was finally emerging who is capable of taking the fight to Obama in the fall. Romney has a chance to solidify that impression with a strong showing on Super Tuesday — especially in the all-important swing state of Ohio.
If Romney secures the nomination, he will be far from the perfect standard bearer. But, to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld, you go to war with the candidates you’ve got. Conservatives are never going to love Mitt Romney — and we don’t have to. But we can form an alliance of convenience with him. To win the support of the base, Romney doesn’t need to light his hair on fire. He just needs to stop insulting conservatives — and show us he has what it takes to make Obama a one-term president.
Come January 2013, I am ready to stop hating the Obama administration … and start hating the Romney administration.
More on this debate from PostOpinions: E.J. Dionne Jr.: The GOP, missing the primary issue George F. Will: The Republicans’ backup plan Michael Gerson: How Mitt Romney can make the most of his weakness