The Right Opinion

Best Foot Forward?

By Mona Charen · Nov. 16, 2012

Our large cruise ship sailed within view of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a gathering of conservatives sponsored by National Review magazine considered the wreckage of the 2012 election. Most of the writers and commentators on board agreed with Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition that the last thing conservatives need to do now is to form a “circular firing squad.” But lessons must be learned.

Was Mitt Romney, as some suggested, “our best foot forward” – a highly intelligent, photogenic, generous, public-spirited, articulate man of great integrity whose loss can only be chalked up to the poor judgment of 2012's voters? Or was he, as Midge Decter described him, “the sort of person you'd love to have as your next door neighbor,” but who couldn't inspire political passion?

Certainly Romney lacked the common touch. Exit polls showed that voters gave him high marks for “leadership” and for having a vision for the future. Yet on the question “cares about the problems of people like me,” he was crushed by 81 to 18. Even Republican-leaning voters were influenced. The secretly recorded “47 percent” video will likely go down in history as the most consequential tape since Watergate – sealing as it did Romney's image (already unscrupulously distorted by the Obama team) as a cold elitist.

The Romney campaign, moreover, seemed dazed and deflated by the 47 percent episode, unable to recover and offer damage control. Romney might have responded, for example, with a speech emphasizing that in Obama's economy, dependence on Food Stamps and disability insurance had reached all-time highs, while good jobs with benefits were disappearing. Or he might have showcased actual Americans who got off welfare due to the business promotion of Bain Capital. Surely among the thousands of employees of Office Depot and Staples, some could be found who fit that profile.

Democrats, many in attendance on the NR cruise, noted bitterly, suffer no penalty for being wealthy. Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama himself, among many others, aren't penalized politically for being rich because they favor broadly redistributionist policies. There are two ironies here. First, the very rich, which includes all the previously named, along with Warren Buffett, who did so much to propagate the falsehood that “the rich” pay fewer taxes than their secretaries, can easily afford an increase in tax rates. But the definition of those who must, to satisfy Mr. Obama's sense of “fairness,” surrender more of their incomes, includes everyone earning more than $200,000. For them, a tax increase can be personally painful, especially if they have children in college.

The deeper irony, however, was touched on by National Review's Jay Nordlinger, namely that the redistributionist policies so beloved of Democrats actually make the middle class poorer. The rich don't need better jobs, schools that actually teach and Social Security and Medicare that do not go bankrupt. The Kennedys of this world don't send their kids to the neighborhood school or look for work at the oil and gas company in town. The reforms so essential to the well-being of the broad middle-class in America were championed by Romney and Ryan. Obama stood firmly against reform and for a status quo that already has diminished the welfare of the poor and middle class and threatens to further immiserate the nation.

“Was Romney a throwback to another era?” one panelist asked. Too reticent and dignified for the emotionally exhibitionistic world we inhabit? It's possible, and no political party that fails to change with the times will survive. But Romney's reluctance to offer arguments instead of personal credentials (“I'm a business guy.”) was probably more important.

Conservatives and Republicans do not object to tax increases because they favor the rich, but because they believe strongly that the government already spends way too much. The election has settled the issue, for now, in Obama's favor. Republicans who still hold national power in the House might want to consider one idea that will help their image and expose Obama's deception in a single blow – agree to raise taxes only on the truly rich, those earning more than 5 million annually. That's a tax that will be shouldered almost entirely by Obama donors and supporters – those insulated from the real economy.



Gregory in Yakima said:

Mona Charon throws a few dead fish to the seals with this column. It's funny to imagine disgraced Ralph Reed urging against a "circular firing squad". There he is on board with the other multimillionaires, his bank accounts full of donated cash from true believers. His buddy Jack Abramhoff can tell a few stories about Ralph humping corporate accounts. Stay away from the rails Ralph, the real conservatives with real values may decide to make you fish bait.

The overall picture of very wealthy Republicans consoling one another on a luxury cruise is hilarious. Mona doesn't have a clue. Let's take up donations from those who earn fifty thousand a year to help out those folks who make five times as much. Oh wait, those who earn fifty thousand a year have or hope to have their kids in college too.

Mona Charon is a symbol of all that is wrong with teaching people to read but not to think. She has used the many privileges she was born into to misunderstand everything. Her narrow egocentric view of politics is laughable. She could be the dim witted foil in a sitcom...never understanding why people laugh at her remarks.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 9:17 AM

CA Conservatiive in Red Dot, Blue State replied:

Greg, In other publications I read where you point to the Post as somewhere conservatives respond to you derisively on a personal level without benifit of logical arguement. How would you describe your rant against Ms. Charon. Tsk, Tsk Gregory, it seems you are all that you despise in others. What would your mother have said?

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 4:57 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri replied:

CA, little Greggy was hatched under a rock and never knew his mother.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Ct-Tom in NC said:

I kind of like the tax on the super rich, but it still amounts to taking money from the private economy (NYSE, Tiffany's, local drug dealers, etc.) and handing it to the govt. where it will be utterly wasted.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Gregory in Yakima said:

Ct Tom...The nature of government is too pool resources for the general benefit of all. The difficulty comes from people who perceive their own narrow interests are a higher priority than the nation as a whole. It's a micro/macro sort of thing.

You may recall the Whiskey Rebellion. Sam Adams organized the Boston Tea Party to protest unfair taxes levied from afar and to benefit those same powers. But when farmers refused to pay taxes on their whiskey Sam Adams urged they be hung by their necks as an example.

How much is fair to pay will never be settled as an argument, but you can be assured those with money to influence will never be unrepresented.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 10:18 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

That is a very interesting statement there, Greg. Where does it say the government is required to pool money for the good of all? A company is in business for one thing only. To make a profit for its self or its shareholders who have invested in the company. There is no requirement to do anything more than pay its employees what they are willing to work for. Anything else the company does for its employees is because they think it is fair and a way to keep good employees. It is not the government's responsibility to take care of anyone. Typical stupid liberal philosophy, take from those who have and give to those who don't. God forbid, they should have to earn their own living. So let's tax business's out of business and then everybody can live in poverty.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 3:59 PM

CA Conservatiive in Red Dot, Blue State replied:

Greg, Yes we conservatives believe that individuals are the basic building block of society not the other way around. You cannot erode individual freedoms without harming society as a whole. When you confuse government with "society" and rely on the government to decide what is best for individuals in context of what is best for society you have the rule of men rather than the rule of law. Conservatives believe as Thomas Paine "Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one."

But I assume you have no interest in the wisdom of those "old, dead, white, slave owners."

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 5:09 PM

Ct-Tom in NC replied:

Pool resources for all? What government are you talking about? You cannot mean the US government. See the Constitution please. And, I am pretty sure that Sam Adams would not be on your side in these discussions; John certainly would not.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Treg Hudson in Mason, Texas said:

Mona, I normally appreciate your perspective and agree with the majority of this article. However, Ralph Reed is the perfect example of what is wrong with the Republican party. This election was very similar to 1996, when Reed backed another milquetoast candidate, Bob Dole. I remember vividly at the time Rush Limbaugh said Dole should thank Ralph Reed because he single-handedly gave him the nomination. I was a delegate at the state convention in Texas where Keys and Buchanan "brought the house down" with their speeches. They inspired us. Keys and Buchanan were of course dubbed "unelectable" by Reed and the Christian Coalition. Dole didn't even show up... to the convention or the presidential race. Will the Republicans ever learn? The demographics are changing, true, but a lot of conservatives sat this one out. I don't agree with that approach but I do understand it. We are tired of constantly going from one side of the highway to the other, always in the bar ditch, because of "leaders" like Reed. I kind of agree with Gregory's comments about Reed. Forget the "circular firing squad" and do like the ancient sailors did with Johah - throw him overboard.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Cal in So Cal said:

As most folks who were born before 1990 know, or should know, that the old theme "us against them" is a mantra that has been used successfully by Libs for most elections. It continues today, only more so, because of the huge grants of entitlements (tax money) given by the Libs to those who don't work. It works because there are now many who don't work. As someone recently said: Governent is now Santa Claus! Merry Christmas! Or, the PC now is - Happy Hollidays! It is not nice to bite the hand that feeds you - and gives you lots of other goodies - free.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM