In light of yesterday’s setback for Romney, I’ve decided to rechristen this “deconstructing” series as Romney Agonistes. Anyway. . .
Up in our “Picks” section is a link to those madcaps at The Onion, who offer a spoof of Obamamania called “Romneymania Sweeps America!” This may be their best spoof since their bit about Grover Norquist’s tryst with the corporate income tax a while ago (“I Engaged in a Week-Long Drug-Fueled Orgy With Corporate Income Taxes”).
Many young Americans acknowledged they had felt disillusioned by politics until hearing Romney’s explanation of how his coordination of corporate funding for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics renders him uniquely qualified to be president, an assertion they said immediately revived their faith in American democracy.
“Simply put, when Mitt Romney speaks, he inspires people to be better,” said political scientist Deborah Klein of Brown University, adding that given his effusive charisma, people are likely to follow the Republican candidate anywhere. “Anytime he meets factory workers on the campaign trail or stands at the podium in a debate, his reputation as a highly relatable man of the people is indisputable.”
This really is a nice and semi-subtle sendup of the over-the-top Obamamania. But here’s the thing. Even discounting all of Romney’s defects, conservatives just don’t swoon for candidates and think them messiah-like figures the way liberals do. Reagan was popular, to be sure, but was never the object of worship anything like we saw with Obama four years ago. At the root of this is a substantive difference between left and right.
Second, as suggested here the other day, our low expectations of Romney could be to our benefit (if he holds on and wins not just the nomination but the election—two very big “ifs” right now). Conservatives will be on a hair-trigger from day one, and will sound the alarm early and loudly if he goes wobbly. He won’t have the same leeway that Reagan or George W. Bush had to wobble. He’ll need to worry about a primary challenge in 2016 from day one.
Third, one difference a President Romney will have over Reagan is that Reagan had a hostile Congress, and at least 15 liberal Republicans in the Senate. Romney might well find a Congress slightly to the right of him. Moreover, an atmosphere of low expectations from conservatives may lead conservatives to concentrate more on finding leadership from Congress, which would be a very healthy thing, as a great new book argues (hint, hint). (David Freddoso argued a similar point in The Examiner the other day, saying conservatives should put more effort into getting the Senate elections to come out right.)