Post-elec­tion cruise to re­flect on de­feat

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Mona Charen

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, public­spir­ited, 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 Repub­li­can­lean­ing 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. Mona Charen is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.