Paul of Power Line: “I’m thinking that a majority of conservatives as a whole are going to bite the bullet and go with Romney”—but if they don’t, a bitter, angry Romney promises to take the GOP down with him

“For some time, Rudy Giuliani has justifably been considered the Republican frontrunner, though not a terribly convincing one,” writes Paul of the Power Line blog in a despairing missive titled A New Republican Frontrunner?

As Giuliani continues to slip slowly in the polls, I’m beginning to think that Mitt Romney can now claim this (perhaps dubious) distinction.

That’s because Romney is looking more and more like the choice of mainstream conservatives. The best evidence is the National Review endorsement. As John noted, while endorsements generally aren’t worth much, this one has value. More importantly, National Review’s analysis may well exemplify (rather than influence) the thinking of a critical mass of conservatives. In the past month or two, a number of my most conservative friends have come around to supporting Romney for basically the same reasons National Review cited. Today, we learn that the estimable Michael Novak has, as well.

Romney would have sealed the deal with mainstream conservatives much earlier, but for the moderate to liberal positions he took on key social issues as a Massachusetts politician. When those positions came to light, many conservatives backed off, waiting for an alternative. Some evangelicals eventually found that alternative in Mike Huckabee. I’m thinking that a majority of conservatives as a whole are going to bite the bullet and go with Romney (personally, I’m still undecided) … etc.

Note Paul’s tenor of dark despair. Yet even shrieking-Romney-partisans like Jimmy Bopp issue the same ambivalent, compromising, hold-your-nose-and-vote-Romney line of argument:

Bopp’s argument according to Cillizza: “You might like Huckabee best but he can’t win. So, vote for the guy—Romney—you like second best”

We concur with Paul. There is movement—halting, half-stepping, grudging and reluctant movement—toward the equivocal figure of Romney. But this movement registers mostly among party elites and the center-right commentariat, many of whom have been bought and paid for, and many of whom will soon be bought and paid for.

Here is the critical question: Will Republicans—real Republicans, Republicans with lives, families, and jobs—surrender the dignity of principle and drink the kool-aid offered by the GOP elites? There is precedent for hope. Those on the ground have broken with their elites and bolted before when confronted by Romney:

out-of-touch Evangelical “leaders” stunned by Huckabee upset at the value voters summit—prepared to sigh, shrug, and coronate Romney as their Lord, G_d, and King—oh, the irony!

So: We shall see.

Whatever comes, we do not expect that Romney will accept the will of the party as expressed in its primary contests with grace and equanimity—and neither does Glen Johnson of the Associated Press who issues his warning in the form of a story titled Analysis: Romney Won’t Go Quietly

BOSTON (AP) – Mitt Romney has worked relentlessly to win the Republican presidential nomination for the past three years, and if he’s going down, it won’t be without a fight.

Branded by some as an elite Northeasterner, he plunged deep into the heart of Texas – with handshakes and hugs from the first President Bush and wife Barbara – to address questions about his Mormon faith.

After rival Mike Huckabee suggested Romney’s religion says Jesus and the devil are brothers, Romney went on national television to try a rhetorical haymaker: “Attacking someone’s religion is really going too far.”

And the candidate whose matinee looks and ramrod posture exude a civilized charm showed he isn’t afraid to get down and dirty: He said if the former Arkansas governor wants to carry the front-runner mantle Romney bore for so long in Iowa and New Hampshire, he’d better be ready for the scrutiny that comes with it.

Romney was happy to help that scrutiny along by airing the first negative ad of the GOP campaign in Iowa, a spot this week highlighting Huckabee’s record on illegal immigration. The former Massachusetts governor would not rule out focusing on prison commutations Huckabee issued while in office.

“I frankly think that the more people come to know about Mike Huckabee, the more they realize they don’t know about Mike Huckabee,” Romney said Thursday in Muscatine, Iowa. “I’m going to make it very clear in every way I can to contrast my views on key issues with those of Governor Huckabee. He’s the front-runner and so I want to describe how we’re different on those issues that people care about.”

All this looks very familiar to Shannon O’Brien, the last person to go one-on-one with Romney in an election.

O’Brien was the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Massachusetts. Romney faced her after elbowing aside the acting governor of his own party, Republican Jane Swift, to grab the GOP nomination.

“I think that he learned his lesson running against Ted Kennedy,” O’Brien said. “He ran negative ads against me before I was even the nominee.”

She recalled the 1994 battle in which Romney, then a political upstart, posed the strongest re-election challenge of Kennedy’s career before the senator unloaded with TV ads and surrogates who questioned Romney’s business record and fitness to serve.

O’Brien says now, “Mitt Romney has demonstrated, given the radical flip-flops he has taken from the time he ran for governor to this presidential race now, he will do what it takes to win” … etc.

Whatever it takes.

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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  1. 1 Paul of Power Line: “I’m thinking that a majority of conservatives …

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