Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Rift on the Right

If I had posted my Why Newt? piece this morning as intended, I would have added a link to this precise analysis of what drives the current rift on the right:


As anyone with a passing familiarity with Republican politics over the past four or five decades knows, conservative magazines and think tanks have been making detailed entitlement reform proposals for most of those years, and Republicans running for offices high and low have been running on platforms of reducing the size and cost of government for just as long. And then nothing happens.
That’s why Congress’ battles over the debt ceiling and related issues provide such a potent example. Basically all Republican Senators profess to be in favor of smaller government, and yet so few are willing to go to the barricades to make it a reality....
The related point here – and one that says much about why RedState has put so much energy into intra-party primary battles rather than the production of white papers – is thatpersonnel is policy. The ideas are already there; what is lacking is the necessary corps of people with the will to fight for them....
It’s true that if you plow through Romney’s gazillion-point plans you will find things worth fighting for. The problem is convincing anybody that Mitt Romney, of all people, would actually go to the mattresses to get them done....
Gingrich, as I have noted before, is an odd fit with the anti-Establishment movement he now finds himself leading, not only because he is so long inside the Beltway and so steeped in its ways (albeit with a nearly endless list of enemies there) but because he’s not fundamentally a small-government guy. But the anti-Establishment, Outsider, Tea Party movement appears to be rapidly consolidating behind him as a vessel to stop Romney for reasons that are hardly irrational: Newt is a fighter and an iconoclast by temperament and a powerful spokesman for conservative ideas, but he’s also a guy with an actual record. As Newt loves to note, the 1996 welfare reform is the closest we’ve come to actual government-shrinking entitlement reform in living memory. Newt spearheaded a national reform that took millions of Americans off the welfare rolls, cutting caseloads in half by 2000Romney created an entitlement to add about 400,000 people to the taxpayer-subsidized pool in Massachusetts alone....
The point of my essay was not to denounce anyone, but to explain the history and depth of the current popular distrust on the Right of leaders who seem unwilling to lead. The battle to restrain runaway government spending is so much smoke and mirrors unless the people who profess to support it in word are dedicated to it in deed. No wealth of position papers, endorsements and Power Point presentations can demonstrate that.
The whole thing is worth a read.  For me, of late, I had wondered at why I was heading to RedState more than National Review.  There was a time, prior to children, that I never missed a single post on The Corner.  But we have been outlining policy options since Goldwater.  Now it is time To Do.  The base understands that.  The establishment doesn't.    

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