The Corner

The Journalistic Tough Guy

In case one or two of you were wondering: No, you do not need to read Michael Tomasky’s article in Newsweek (or whatever they’re calling it these days). All the article tells you is Tomasky’s subjective impressions of various Romney moves, all of which are negative. Does Romney respond to attacks forcefully? That shows he’s overcompensating. Does he criticize the attacks and demand an apology? Wimpy. And so on. None of this is of any interest unless 1) you find Tomasky’s psyche a source of fascination or 2) you think his sensibilities are likely to be shared by a decisive group of voters. (1) will apply to very few people, and he provides no reason for accepting (2).

Tomasky does offer Romney an out from all the double binds he’s created though: If Romney would attack conservatives, Tomasky would be willing to say he has guts. Tomasky notes that Newsweek called George H. W. Bush a wimp in 1987, too, and argues that the label was unfair. If Romney becomes president and raises taxes, I’m sure Newsweek will say something nice about him too long after he has lost reelection.

Meanwhile, all this endless arguing about who’s tough and who’s not on Tomasky’s part begins to look like a mask for deeper issues.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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