Friday, November 5, 2010

Romney Agonistes

It seems that Mitt Romney's ties to the 'establishment' aren't to the liking of the Tea Party:

Romney’s decision to interject himself in a Utah primary also has hurt him among Tea Party movement activists. Although Romney has lived in Utah and is viewed as widely popular there, Republicans at a state convention booed his endorsement of Senator Robert Bennett over a Tea Party movement candidate, Mike Lee, who went on to win the nomination and the seat.

“I think he’s done,’’ David Kirkham, a Tea Party movement leader in Utah who was at the state convention, said of Romney. He predicted Tea Party movement followers across the country would reject Romney as too strongly linked to the party establishment.

But some analysts say the extent of the Tea Party movement’s influence on the GOP presidential primaries is unclear after the mixed results of the midterm elections Tuesday. The movement’s high-profile losses, especially Sharron Angle’s failure to knock off Senate majority leader Harry Reid in Nevada and as well as defeats in Colorado and Delaware Senate races, have strengthened contentions among party regulars that electing a candidate strongly affiliated with the Tea Party could hurt GOP chances of capturing the White House.

He's been touted (by himself, of course, above all) as a Republican Great White Hope, an undisputed business and government expert technocrat and conservative contrasting with the Kenyan constitution-shredding America-hating despoiler of small business who's never met a payroll. Fair numbers of Republicans responded to that. That the Tea Party finds him insufficiently pure says a lot about the Republicans at this point. Romney, given his past display of consistency and courage of conviction before the perceived demands of electoral politics, will doubtless provide entertainment along the lines of, say, his joining the NRA in 2008 out of a lifelong love affair with the manly art of varmint plunking. It won't be enough.

I'm to the left of the bulk of the Democratic Party's officeholders, and am ideologically closer to those demanding purity than those willing to compromise. But I've seen countless examples of divisive insistence on the perfect at the expense of the good vitiate the left. The line, obviously, can be disputed; I'd move it a fair amount leftward. But the Tea Party--not only right wing, but intolerant, strident, reality-challenged, its positions impossible to govern well from--and 'establishment' figures such as Romney are on a collision course of a sort I've seen before. If I'm right, then it's vital that the Tea Partiers be challenged every time they make a crazy, ignorant statement, advocate a policy not remotely capable of implementation, demand obedience and capitulation from those the least bit closer to the center.


Ruth said...

The teabaggage is also not friendly to the Mormon religion, seen by evangelicals as a 'cult'. But expecting the same bunch that's demanding the gov't get its hands off their social security to put together a believable effort actually to govern is overly optimistic, imho.

ProfWombat said...

Governance isn't their point, seems to me. Righteousness, and the exclusion of others' righteousness, is. They'd either be a disaster in power, or do what Reagan and GHW Bush did with taxes. That winning, in their case, might actually be losing in the long run is perhaps an opportunity...