They Picked Me?

I read the news of the Des Moines Register’s endorsement on Saturday evening of Willard “Mitt” Romney in grim amusement.  Apart from the fact that I question the value of endorsements in general, I have some specific problems with the Register’s endorsement of Governor Romney.  They cited “Sobriety, wisdom and judgment” as the basis for their reasoning, but I am now left to wonder whether the Register is a valid judge of those traits, partiicularly where conservatives and Tea Party patriots may be concerned.  I don’t know whether the Register is up to the chore, and reading through their endorsement, I believe many will take issue with their specific justifications, but I also believe some will share my amusement.  This is further evidence of the absurdity of the establishment media, and one more reason to ignore it. Let us examine it together.

Under the heading of “Sobriety,” the Register said:

While other candidates have pandered to extremes with attacks on the courts and sermons on Christian values, Romney has pointedly refrained from reckless rhetoric and moralizing. He may be accused of being too cautious, but choosing words carefully is a skill essential for anyone who could be sitting in the White House and reacting to world events.

In one respect, this may well be true unless you and I happen to think in so doing, he was pandering to the establishment class who values the notion of a dispassionate candidate.  The chattering establishment class sees a passionate advocate as a “firebrand” or some such thing, and they prefer a nuanced, flexible, flip-able, flop-able candidate as being better able to avoid pitfalls.  Meanwhile, ordinary Americans want to know what a candidate believes, and the only outward sign they might glimpse of this is through the passion and consistency a candidate shows to the world in spite of some criticisms for strong stances.

In considering his”Wisdom,” the Register opined:

Romney obviously is very smart. He graduated as valedictorian at Brigham Young University and finished in the top 5 percent in his MBA class at Harvard, where he also earned a law degree. Romney also exhibits the wisdom of a man who listened and learned from his father and his mother, from his church and from his own trials and errors in life. He does not lack self confidence, but he is not afraid to admit when he has been wrong.

Is he?  While I am certain Governor Romney isn’t a dolt, neither do I view him as a brilliant man.  He is clearly very disciplined, and knows how to stick to a plan.  I am happy that he had good parents, and that he is a man who has a strong moral underpinning, but does it seem odd to you that the same publication that only a paragraph earlier criticized the practice of “moralizing” now goes out of its way to tell you Mitt Romney is a moral man?  This sort of crudely constructed self-contradiction shouldn’t be permitted in polite society, never mind an editorial board’s meeting room.

Romney should have no problem admitting having been wrong on an issue, as there are few issues in which he hasn’t at some point embraced both sides.  With a record like his, admitting one’s errors ought to become habitual.

On the matter of his “Judgment,” the Register offered:

Romney disagrees with Democrats on most issues, but he offers smart and well-reasoned alternatives rather than simply proposing to swing a wrecking ball in Washington. He is a serious student of public policy who examines the data before making a decision. His detailed policy paper on the economy contains 87 pages of carefully crafted positions on taxes, energy, trade and regulatory policy, complete with 127 footnotes.

Well, Hallelujah!  (Perhaps I should find another word, if I’m to please the Register.)  Let us stipulate to the Register’s knowing that he is running as a Republican, after all, and it should be no surprise that he lately disagrees with Democrats, but what is most telling is that they here reward him for his bipartisan approach to reform. I know, they didn’t say “bipartisan,” but in the establishment media, “smart and well-reasoned” and “bipartisan” are interchangeable descriptions.  Which of Mitt’s opponents for the nomination does not examine data before making decisions?  His detailed policy paper on the economy is carefully crafted to promise everything and nothing at once, and there is no consistent underlying philosophy of economics with which I am familiar, but there is a consistency in another form: It consistently avoids serious hot-button issues.  They seem impressed by 127 footnotes.  If so, I’ve seen more in fewer pages, but I still don’t know how this tells us anything about his judgment.

The Register goes on to stress his record in business and on economics, but let’s be blunt, shall we?  The state of our economy is not merely the result of mistaken economic policies.  The state of our economy is an effect born of a much larger cause to which the Register never wishes to speak:  The moral decline of our nation has birthed the intentionally disastrous economic policies we are now facing, and it is that moral schism that threatens the continuation of the Republic.  A president who replaces Barack Obama will be forced to effect change greater than mere economics if he or she hopes to mend the nation.  We will need a president willing to go to bat on moral arguments, and Mitt, by their own admission, is terribly uncomfortable in so doing.

This is precisely the sort of endorsement I’d expect from an old media rag, and exactly the kind of thing conservatives and Tea Party patriots have come to expect from the establishment.  More than speaking to the limited virtues of his candidacy, it is code for telling the establishment that he’s the safe bet, and that this is the candidate least likely to offend anybody, including particularly the most offensive of characters.  You can take your advice from the Des Moines Register if you like, but you’ll excuse me if I form my own conclusions.  They’re apt to be a good bit more accurate.

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