It’s the tale of a former governor of what is possibly the most liberal state in the union. Let’s call him R. Early in life R was a big supporter of the most liberal president in history. Before R ran for president his only political position had been this governorship. Both times he ran against opposition in the primary his opponents chided for having only been the governor of a liberal state. But before R had been governor he had been the president of one of the largest private organizations in the country, having a stake in the one of the largest industries in the world. What did he do during this time? R made some deals that cost people a lot of money…and to this day he is hated for those choices…but his actions guaranteed people in the industry income for generations to come whereas only worrying about the immediate needs would have cost the future the wealth that was to come.*
As governor R did some things that conservatives didn’t like. He signed a bill that restricted unlimited gun rights. He singed a liberal bill about healthcare and abortion but later said he would not have signed it and was later firmly pro-life. R was a strong defender of the environment…He was also extremely tough on crime, but R’s pseudo-conservative foes really didn’t acknowledge this point.
As chief executive R tried to always be a fiscal conservative…but he had a problem. Liberals and a few RINOs controlled both houses of the legislature. And they wanted to some really liberal things. But he had things that he knew needed to be done. He knew he could fight the liberals tooth and nail on all their entitlement projects, or he could cut deals, he could soften the blows the liberals planned to the economy where he could and get conservative necessities in exchange for liberal pet projects. When he couldn’t cross certain lines he would just veto what he had to. Newt Gingrich as always called his plans foolish, suggested preposterous ideas that would never work and only end in failure…and when he couldn’t get what he wanted Newt, backstabber he is, just insulted our conservative.
The first time R ran for the presidency he lost to the establishment candidate. A weak willed RINO who questioned our conservative governor’s conservative credentials on every point. This allowed his critics, the second time he ran to claim that his economic ideas were either foolish or weren’t truly conservative…ignoring the fact that his opposition has supported big government programs for their entire lives.
But you know what happened. Conservatives forgave R his deals with liberals because they saw he was doing the best he could with the legislature he had. They not only forgave him…they all but anointed him a saint.
….oh wait…who did you think I was talking about? Romney? No, I was talking about Ronald Reagan.
Because the fact of the matter is there are some similarities. I’m not claiming that Romney is “The Great Communicator,” that he is not. Nor do I think he is as good a Reagan in a lot of ways…who is. But what I want to talk about here is the way we conservatives are holding a double standard.
Reagan allowed massive increases not just in spending but in deficit spending on entitlement programs because it was the only way he could get what he needed for his primary goal: the destruction of the Soviet Union. He even raised taxes a little after his initial tax cut. And there are a thousand other little deals he cut with the Democrat Congress that would usually be called anathema to Republicans if it weren’t for the fact that we understood there was a point and reason for doing those things. We saw the forest from the trees. We saw where his hands were tied and granted that given the situation he did the best he could and forgive him the liberal deals he cut because they served a greater good. And when liberals bitch about his deficit spending we rightly point out it was their Democratic House which did all the spending.
Now if you applied the same logic to Romney you look at it and say: Yes he created a mandate for health insurance in Massachusetts, but that was certainly better than putting everyone under government run healthcare and destroying the private sector in Massachusetts as the liberal legislature wanted to originally do. It was certainly more conservative, it was certainly more free market oriented. Had he gone to the mat and stood only for the free market he would have lost and you would have socialized medicine in Massachusetts that would make you yearn for the Canadian system. Was it perfect? No. Was it more free market than what the left wanted? Yes. What are the worst aspects of “Romneycare”? The parts that Romney either vetoed and was overridden by the Massachusetts legislature or the parts that the liberals put in after Romney left. (If we’re going to hold people responsible for legislation passed after their term in office, then Reagan is responsible for Obamacare, FDR and LBJ are responsible for welfare reform, and Lincoln is responsible for Jim Crow laws…wait that doesn’t sound right…yet somehow that’s the argument against Romney). Ann Coulter pointed this out.
Or perhaps you want to hit Romney for his indexing the minimum wage in the commonwealth to the inflation rate. Yes, let’s ignore that the liberals wanted it to outpace the inflation rate (i.e. create an economic apocalypse). Yes he should have fought against the highly liberal legislature who would usually override his vetoes (for instance he vetoed 250 bills one year, all of them were overridden ) or he could suggest something he could sell that wouldn’t completely destroy the economy. Yeah I can see how going to the mat would be the better call there. And recently he said his “thoughts” on the minimum wage “haven’t changed”…hmmm, he didn’t say he was going to raise it, only that his thoughts haven’t changed…to me that’s political speak for “I’m not going to say something that is going to get me in ever more trouble, but I’m not going to lie.” His thoughts could be that he would like to cut, he’s never said, we only know that his actions opposed letting it go higher than the inflation rate. How terrible.
Everything Romney did in Massachusetts was designed to be more businesses like, more conservative, more capitalistic than what the liberal legislature wanted…but still pragmatic enough to get passed because he knew if he fought the good fight then the liberals would just override his veto and get what they wanted.
We have always forgiven Reagan his liberal trespasses because we knew it was the best he could do. It is the most hypocritical double standard to say that Reagan’s best when cutting deals with liberals was fine…but Romney’s is not.
You can either accept that Reagan is a conservative and thus Romney is too. Or you can condemn Romney, which means you must condemn Reagan as well…and if you condemn Reagan then get the hell out of this party.
*[He unpopularly cut a deal with the studios that said actors would not get paid royalties on movies they did not have royalty guarantees on, but guaranteed that all actors would get residuals on all movies, TVs shows or other forms of cinema that were ever made after that deal.]