Re: Romney Being Romney

by Mona Charen

Michael, I agree about the Ryan speech — sends a thrill down the leg, right? And surely a bit more of that kind of thing from Romney wouldn’t go amiss.

But, I think I detect a contradiction in what you’re arguing. You say, on the one hand, that:

We are rapidly approaching a cultural tipping point, at which the dependency class — catered to in the name of “compassion” — will become larger than the taxpaying class, and will vote accordingly. In this environment, appeals to old-fashioned notions of personal probity and familial responsibility are futile as society (abetted by the media) celebrates the loss of “stigma” and the moral nobility of accepting a handout. 

And then, on the other hand, you decry Romney’s comments about keeping some aspects of health reform, as “disheartening every conservative who was thinking of holding his nose and voting” for Romney. Which is it? You can’t make an old-fashioned appeal to “personal probity” because the country is too far gone in dependency and corruption, but any perceived deviation from conservative orthodoxy is also verboten? 

Actually, I don’t think appeals to personal probity are a big point of the Romney campaign. I also don’t think such appeals would necessarily be rejected by people of good will even if they believe in gay marriage, unlimited abortion, and eliminating the stigma on taking government assistance. (I exclude all of the speakers at the Democratic convention from this generous assumption.)

Also, any conservative who reached for the smelling salts because Romney’s proposed health reform (on which he has been on record for many months) would include protecting people with pre-existing conditions is overwrought. Many a free market solution has been proposed for this very real problem (including decoupling insurance deductibility from employment). 

Romney is arguably the most articulate presidential nominee we’ve had since Reagan. My hope is that he will do a better job at explaining a few big things to voters: 1) How we got into this mess (no, Mr. Clinton, it wasn’t “deregulation” under Republicans), 2) how Obamacare, Dodd/Frank, and the Consumer Protection Bureau are inhibiting job creation and risk taking, 3) how the debt endangers everything we are and care about, and 4) how tax reform can boost growth.

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