Resisting the spinach

As I have observed previously, the three of us contributing to this site seem to me to reflect the division among conservative Republican voters trying to find the strongest candidate to take on Barack Obama. We are in search of the rightwardmost viable candidate. We are united by our desire to overcome Obama. But how to do it?

The answer is not obvious, at least to me, even after reading my long-time colleague John Hinderaker’s full-throated endorsement of Romney. Steve Hayward isn’t supporting Newt Gingrich — perhaps he is only resisting Mitt — but he has toyed with the idea in a historically minded way. And me, I’m undecided. I am struck by the weakness of the GOP field in general and by the offsetting strengths and weaknesses of the frontrunners in particular.

John has come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney is the guy. I have my doubts, but he might be, and I will support him to the best of my ability against Obama if he is the Republican nominee. As John argues, Romney’s business expertise might be of serious use in rescuing us from our economic and fiscal crises. That’s a powerful argument in Romney’s favor.

Among my doubts, however, is that Romney is a conservative, even if he is somewhere to the right of John McCain, or of Obama. Paul Rahe characterizes him as a managerial progressive, and he may well be on the mark.

John declares that Romney has a solid record of conservative accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts. John doesn’t cite any particular aspects of Romney’s gubernatorial record, so I’m not sure what part of Romney’s record he’s referring to. John omits any mention of Romneycare or of Romney’s continued defense of it. Romneycare is certainly the most notable accomplishment of Romney’s one term in political office. In my opinion, however, it’s not conservative, it’s not good public policy, and at this point it’s not even good politics.

John urges conservatives to fall in line behind Governor Romney. I’m reminded of the famous New Yorker cartoon with the mother instructing her stubborn daughter that the food in front of her is broccoli. “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it,” the stubborn young lady responds. I don’t say all of it’s spinach, and I don’t say the hell with it, but I say enough of it is spinach to give me pause.


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