The Corner

Podhoretz on Romney


I strongly recommend this New York Post op-ed by John Podhoretz taking issue with Mitt Romney’s comments on the American electorate. Writes Podhoretz: “Aside from being bad sportsmanship — Romney basically said Obama won by cheating — he was displaying the same obtuseness about the wants and needs of ordinary people that did more to torpedo his campaign than any goodies Obama might have had to dole out.”

Here’s Podhoretz’s spot-on summary of what Romney’s real problem was:

[Romney’s] vision of a better America than Obama’s was one that rewarded success rather than penalized it and gave running room to entrepreneurs to realize the American dream.

But such a vision isn’t actually inclusive. It speaks to those whose energies will likely make them successes no matter what they do — and says little to people who don’t think of life in such dynamic terms.

Many people crave security and stability rather than risk-taking, and that doesn’t make them any less American. They are the workers rather than the job creators, and all societies need both.

Romney is right that the Obama vision is too centered on government. But his is too centered on the promotion of business and wealth creation at the expense of everything else.

This tallies with something Robert Shrum (quoting a Republican friend) observed about five weeks before the election: that Romney’s problem is not that people don’t like him, but that they think he doesn’t like them. Or, as I would rephrase it, that he doesn’t “get” them. The famous “47 percent” video appeared to show a man who divided America into people who were go-getters and people who were lazy slobs — but most political observers know it’s more complicated than that, and more to the point, most voters know this too.

Podhoretz concludes:

[Romney’s] comments on Tuesday suggested that, despite two months desperately trying to convince Americans he had misspoken, the 47-percent remark was an honest reflection of his view of the electorate.

Romney is a good, intelligent, extraordinarily generous man who put on a great fight. But he didn’t understand the country or the people he sought to lead, and that is why he lost.

I would add only this: Romney is to be praised for saying what he really thinks, even if some of us disagree with it. It would be wrong to dismiss his remarks as mere “Sore Loserman” sour grapes. Criticizing the electorate may not be a winning political strategy, but we ought always to remember that majorities are not always right.

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