- Dog left in car blasts horn for 15 minutes
- DCCC chair hopes Alex Sink will run again in November
- U.S., allies threaten ‘further action’ against Russia
- Obama to order businesses to hike overtime pay for salary workers
- Last laugh: Marine vet fires off jokes from the grave with own obituary
- Deportations come mostly from border, DHS chief says
- NATO sends surveillance planes to watch Ukraine
- Climate change not a top concern of Americans, poll shows
- GM faces federal investigation for slow recall that led to 13 deaths
- Iran president reaches out to Oman on friendship tour
FIELDS: Immoderate perils in moderation
Republicans convinced only genuine conservative can beat Obama
“Moderate Republican” wasn’t always an oxymoron, but now it is. Politics is about opposites in search of compromise, and moderates only make fat targets in a crossfire, shot by friend and foe. If the best ideas are drawn from strong debate, even at the extreme, moderates usually disappear in the mush of the middle.
Harsh, take-no-prisoners rhetoric might frighten the children and horses (women are no longer easily scared) but that’s the sharpness and liveliness that keeps good ideas coming and gives “conservative” and “liberal” real meaning. Even exaggerated, the rhetoric focuses expectations of where a candidate wants to take the country.
Mitt Romney, who clearly looked like a moderate as governor of Massachusetts, doesn’t want to be one now. He makes fair points defending himself as a conservative governor elected to lead a liberal state - perhaps the most liberal of all the states - and insists that what he accomplished in Boston is not what he wants to accomplish in Washington. Massachusetts constituents demanded government-mandated health care, and when his legislature, which was 85 percent Democratic, passed the legislation, he signed it. He had no leverage with a veto that could withstand an overwhelming Democratic majority. He says now that a similar national mandate is a bad idea. He promises, if elected, to get rid of Obamacare. That doesn’t sound like mush, but it’s also fair to recall the folk aphorism that “what you do speaks so loud we can’t hear what you say.”
He wants to return maximum authority to the states to innovate health care solutions that work best when designed by the people who pay for them. States’ rights and states’ prerogatives sound pretty conservative.
Rick Santorum’s rhetoric moves the social issues so far to the margins that he had to recruit his wife to reassure us that he’s making noise louder than it sounds, much like Mark Twain’s remark that some music is better than it sounds. “I think women have nothing to fear when it comes to contraceptives,” Karen Santorum told CNN, because “he will do nothing on that issue.” She says her husband wouldn’t allow his religious belief to dictate policy, that he is really most concerned that Barack Obama is trying to force people to go against their conscience. Her defense would be more persuasive if John F. Kennedy’s ringing defense of separation of church and state, which we thought had erased the traditional wariness of a Roman Catholic president, hadn’t made her husband want to throw up. She paints an endearing picture of a supportive husband, cheerfully changing diapers, fixing supper and cleaning the kitchen when she was away on a book tour, but we’re not electing a husband-in-chief.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have emerged as the faces of the Republican Party, and those faces reflect the split between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. The split is real but not insurmountable. Mr. Romney took big steps toward the nomination with a decisive victory in Illinois, where for the first time, close to a majority of Republicans voted for the man with an emphasis on economic, not social, policy. The message they sent is that Job 1 is to replace Mr. Obama; their concerns are about continued high unemployment, the price of gasoline and a national debt that threatens to forfeit their children’s future.
“Don’t make [the election] about who can best manage Washington, or be the CEO of the economy,” Mr. Santorum told Illinois voters. Well he might say that, because many Republicans see him as Mr. Romney describes him: “an economic lightweight.” The two men are not far apart in their appreciation of the peril in the Obama view of the world. There’s a deep and wide gulf between them on the economy. That’s where Mr. Obama has failed, and that’s where new leadership has to take us.
Mr. Romney’s repeated description of himself - as the candidate who knows business, who has experience in the private sector, who learned firsthand how high taxes destroy entrepreneurial job creation and how balanced budgets determine whether businesses thrive or fail - has become cliche. But that, it seems to me, is what we must remember. The president’s regulators, he observes, would have shut down the Wright brothers for “dust pollution” and banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb for overheating the atmosphere.
Geoffrey Kabaservice, in his new book “Rule and Ruin,” sounds the lament that moderates have disappeared from the Grand Old Party. He regrets that Mitt is not more like his father, George, who self-destructed as an early Republican candidate for president in 1968. But the campaign of 2012 is about conservative principles directing economic freedom. There’s nothing moderate about that.
Suzanne Fields is a syndicated columnist.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
Get Breaking Alerts
- Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?
- Deportations come mostly from border, DHS chief says
- Female TSA officers say pat-down duty leads to workplace discrimination
- HURT: John Kerry The ridiculous face of a ridiculous U.S. diplomacy
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Special ops forces wearing thin from high demand
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- David Jolly wins in Florida, GOP keeps swing district seat
- Joe Biden reveals Obama freeze-out over gay gaffe
- Explosion rocks Manhattan apartment building, structure collapses
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama delivering on 'flexibility' vow to Moscow
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama should've seen Ukraine coming
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Political correctness is enemy of free speech
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Stop wasting money on United Nations
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Certain issues belong to voters