I write this column post debate, as the news comes in concerning each candidate’s performance. I would like in this column to lay out the choices in the Republican Primary candidates from a commonsense conservative perspective
Just to clear the air, let’s start with Ron Paul. While many of us support Ron Paul’s domestic agenda, particularly his attacks on the Fed and the behind the scenes management of the economy, his foreign policy is a disaster! Unfortunately for the country and for Ron Paul himself, his stance on foreign policy is so extreme that it disqualifies him from further consideration. But he is without a doubt, the most dangerous man on the stage. Not only are his foreign policy ideas dangerous, he has it within his grasp to re-elect Obama by running as an independent. And even in the primary, every vote he gets siphons off conservative votes in the primary from other, more mainstream conservatives.
Next let’s take up the presumptive front runner, and establishment candidate, Mitt Romney. Mitt has been the candidate that Republicans would normally elect. So many times, Republicans select as their nominee whose next rather than who’s best. Since Mitt ran in the last Presidential election, some argue it is his “turn”. Not a strong argument! You may have noticed after the campaign of 2008 many of the candidates that ran in that primary exited it with a certain disdain for Mitt Romney. Here is why. Mitt Romney in the last primary fight,and to a large degree again in this one has proven himself willing to take out his opponents at any price. If you read our earlier post on Newt Gingrich’s “scandal” you will wonder how it could be the same thing Romney talks about. Well, the simple truth is that Romney is not telling the truth, but putting just enough of it in to walk that line between outright lying and “misrepresenting”. It has made him a hated man in political circles. He also has a certain contempt for the other candidates. Watch for it in that little smile of contempt, that talking down he does to his opponents… Not pretty!
The biggest positive for Romney is his support from within the Republican power structure. If you look at Romney’s plan, he is the candidate who is going to do the least to correct our problems. And that is just fine with the power structure! As I have reminded readers before, the Republican power structure in D.C. is not all that interested in shrinking the size of government. The bigger the government, the more money and power they have. They want a candidate who can talk that talk, but who will merely nibble around the edges without actually cutting anything. And they see Mitt as a man they can “do business” with. Further reassuring to the power structure, Mitt is not one of those “ideologues” who is really committed to the conservative cause. He has only lately (and conveniently) discovered his conservative values. That they find re-assuring.
Thirdly, and most controversial, is Newt Gingrich. Newt served as a congressman from Georgia for 20 years, with the last four served as Speaker of the House. Newt was the one man in congress preaching that through conservative values, Republican could win a majority for the first time in decades. And he made it happen! But Gingrich has two very large problems, one personal and one professional. Personally, he has problems holding his marriages together, although his last marriage has lasted 15 years and he claims at 68 to be over those kinds of temptations. Professionally, he has a problem with focus. His is the world of a great idea a minute, and not so much the discipline of working a few good ideas to fruition. But look at the record he amasses even while Bill Clinton was on office. One could hardly claim that he would not be effective! Gingrich is disliked by the power structure in D.C. he is seen as too conservative, and too independent. They want a leader who knows how to play ball, not a rebel with a cause. As you watch Newt over time you begin to realize he has an incredible depth of knowledge about government and how it works. It is really hard to see anyone else on that stage that can compete!
Fourthly and finally, we have Rick Santorum. Rick spent 12 years in Washington as both a congressman and a senator from Pennsylvania. Santorum has a very solid record as a social conservative and a mostly conservative record on other matters. At 53, he is the youngest candidate in the race. While one cannot help but admire Rick’s socially conservative principles, he seems to sometimes insist only he can truly hold those positions. And he sometimes comes off as just a little like a smartalec and a know it all! But overall he is certainly more conservative than Mitt Romney.
So who does one vote for? It’s not a hard call this commonsense conservative. When I think of what Newt Gingrich accomplished with a very popular President Clinton fighting him every step of the way, I am sure that Gingrich can do the job. Is he erratic and difficult? Yes. But many of our most talented leaders (George Patton?) were not exactly the best guy at a dinner party. But they inspire change and make big things happen. And God knows we need a lot of big things to happen! But I could live with Senator Santorum. I just fear that we voted for the young guy full of hope last time. I think this year; we are looking for folks with a little grey in their hair, a modicum of experience under their belt. What we should not be looking for is another John McCain and select the most liberal candidate in the race. We know how that turned out last time…