The Corner

Conservatives vs. Capitalism

The last two presidential election cycles have revealed a stinking hypocrisy in conservatives: They profess their love of capitalism and entrepreneurship, but when offered a real capitalist and entrepreneur, they go, “Eek, a mouse!” And they tear him down in proud social-democrat fashion. In the off season, they sound like Friedrich Hayek. When the game is on, they sound like Huey Long, Bella Abzug, or Bob Shrum.

Last time around, Mike Huckabee said Romney “looks like the guy who laid you off.” Conservatives reacted like this was the greatest mot since Voltaire or something. To me, Romney looked like someone who could create a business and hire the sadly unentrepreneurial like me.

Others said, “He looks like a car salesman,” or, worse, “a used-car salesman.” Ho ho ho! Commerce, gross, icky, yuck. Better Romney looked like an anthropology professor.

As I say in Impromptus today, I was watching a clip of Romney tangling with an “Occupy” protester last week. Romney was defending corporate profits. I was astounded. I don’t think I had ever seen a candidate do this. When the subject comes up, you’re supposed to denounce corporate profits or say, “Hey, nice weather we’re having, huh?”

Phil Gramm once explained to Bill Buckley why he never talked about free trade on the stump — he, a professor of economics and a free-marketeer: It wasn’t worth the trouble. “Free trade benefits almost everybody,” said Gramm. “But they don’t know who they are. Free trade hurts a few, and they all know who they are.”

Over and over, Romney defends and explains capitalism. And he’s supposed to be the RINO and squish in the race? That’s what I read in the conservative blogosphere, every day. What do you have to do to be a “real conservative”? Speak bad English and belch?

In the Saturday debate, Santorum knocked Romney for being just a “manager,” just a “CEO,” not fit to be president and commander-in-chief. This was odd for a couple of reasons: First, Romney did have a term as governor of Massachusetts (meaning he has executive political experience, unlike Santorum). And second: Since when do conservative Republicans denigrate private-sector experience?

About 800 times, Newt Gingrich told us to read a particular newspaper, to see what a capitalist meanie Romney was. What was the newspaper? The New York Times, of course. There’s a great slogan for our conservative visionary: “Read the New York Times!”

Now Romney has said, “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I want to say, ‘You know, I’m going to get someone else to provide that service to me.’” Simple, elementary competition. Capitalism 101. And conservatives go, “Eek, a mouse!”

I could go on: the $10,000 bet, the pink slips, conservatives wetting their pants, over and over. They have no appetite to defend capitalism, to persuade people, to encourage them not to fall for the old socialist and populist crap. I fled the Democratic party many years ago. And one of the reasons was, I couldn’t stand the class resentment, the envy, the hostility to wealth, the cries of “Richie Rich!” And I hear them from conservatives, at least when Romney is running.

Go ahead, have your “bloodbath” in South Carolina. Make Romney the little guy in the top hat and tails, from the Monopoly game. Have your Santorum, your Perry, your Newt. They may carry something like four states in the fall, but at least they’ve never sullied their hands with — eek! — business.

Perhaps after the election, while Obama is deepening the country’s poverty, Romney and others like him can find a party friendly to capitalism. We conservative Republicans turn out to be cradle-to-gravers, like everyone else.

UPDATE: I have amended this baby slightly since its original posting (but have not de-heated it). (Subsequent posts will be cooler, maybe even like Jamaican breezes in springtime.)

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