Sunday, September 07, 2008

Mitt Romney's Last Speech

This is old news now, but lets look at Mitt Romney's poorly written speech at the Republican National Convention. Although he makes some good points, the biggest problem is that his speech sounds like it was written in 1986, or 1994 at the latest. He does not understand that conservatives have embraced big government since 1995.

Is government spending - excluding inflation - liberal or conservative if it doubles since 1980? -- It's liberal!

Since 1980 there have been three Republican presidents and one Democrat, and government spending grew the least under the Democrat. I'm sorry, but the facts are that government spending is conservative.

Is a Supreme Court liberal or conservative that awards Guantanamo terrorists with constitution rights? It's liberal!

The Supreme Court is split. It has four conservatives (Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito), four liberals (Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer) and Kennedy, who according to Wikipedia is a swing vote:

Appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, he acts as the Court's swing vote on social issues in some cases and has consequently held special prominence in some politically-charged 5–4 decisions.

Sometimes the court is liberal, sometimes it is not.

Examine Romney's paragraph on foreign trade:

Our economy is under attack. China is acting like Adam Smith on steroids, buying oil from the world's worst, and selling nuclear technology. Russia and the oil states are siphoning more than 500 billion dollars a year from us in what could become the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history. This is no time for timid, liberal empty gestures.

Our economy is under attack? What does that mean? And what the hell does he mean by calling China's selling nuclear technology to our enemies "Adam Smith on steroids"? Does that make any sense? And if Russia sells us oil, that is not a "transfer of economic wealth," it's called trade. Russia gives us oil, we give Russia money.

And look at how strained and weird his opening metaphor is:

For decades, the Washington sun has been rising in the east - Washington has been looking to the eastern elites, to the editorial pages of the Times and the Post, and to the broadcasters from the coast.

If America really wants change, it's time to look for the sun in the west, cause it's about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska!

I understand what he is saying, but if one actually looks for the sun to rise in the west, that would be a sign of insanity. His image does not really help what he is saying.

But here is where Romney's words stray farthest from reality:

The right course is the one championed by Ronald Reagan 30 years ago, and by John McCain today. It is to rein in government spending and to lower taxes, for taking a weed-whacker to excessive regulation and mandates, for putting a stop to tort windfalls, and to stand up to the Tyrannosaurus appetite of government unions!

If conservatives think McCain is anything like Reagan, they are deluding themselves. Reagan actually read Hayek and Friedman. You can argue that his understanding was not deep and that his presidency was flawed, but at least he came from the old days, when Republicans took free market ideas sort of seriously. They actually talked about liberty at cocktail parties back in the 1960's. (And even with Reagan's exposure to the right ideas, when he actually governed as president, government spending doubled during his administration and he appeased our enemies in the disastrous Iran-Contra scheme.)

McCain doesn't know Mises from Moses. As Craig Biddle writes:

On the domestic front, McCain promises to “take on” the drug companies, as if those who produce and market the medicines that improve and save human lives must be fought; he promises to ration energy by means of a cap-and-trade scheme, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to dictate how much energy a company may purchase or use; he promises to “battle” big oil, as if those who produce and deliver the lifeblood of civilization need to be defeated; he promises to “reform” Wall Street, as if those who finance the businesses that produce the goods and services on which our lives depend are thereby degenerate; he seeks to uphold the ban on drilling in ANWR, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to prevent Americans from reshaping nature to suit their needs; and so on.

If McCain is conservative, then conservatism is now fascism. This is not "taking a weed-whacker to excessive regulation and mandates."

Maybe Romney had to support McCain, therefore he wrote a speech out of touch with reality. He should not have tried to defend McCain in old school terms. Times have changed. The Republican Party has changed. Conservatives like Romney are still trying to pretend the "old religion" of smaller government has anything to do with the reality of Washington, D.C. today. Talking about small government and freedom are something Republicans still do because they are terrified to let go of dead ideals.

Romney has said this week that he is done with politics. It's a good thing, because he does not have what it takes. In his last hurrah he resembled nothing so much as someone standing in the darkness at 5am, facing west to see the sun rise.

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