… and not from the left. Read on.
… Joe Scarborough, a more centrist GOP voice, blasted away at Romney’s utter vapidness and expressed the frustration of many GOPers who just seem to be going along. Old school Reaganites from Peggy Noonan to Dan Coats also got into the act. Even the neoconservative intellectual leader Bill Kristol, who did much to justify the Iraq war boondoggle, tells us that Mitt Romney is failing, proving no more true to Kristol’s New American Century ideology than he is to anyone other; say what you may about him, Kristol, like his father, is consistent. The overall implication from these voices on the right is clear: Romney is an an empty suit, as frightening to real ideologues on the right like Kristol and Ingraham as he is to progressives on the left. Because no one, left or right, knows what he really believes.
Having spent years working with older movement conservatives and studying their project, these voices of frustration ring true in signaling the takeover of the postwar conservative coalition by a uncomfortable and unproductive alliance of tea party know-nothings and holdover trickle-down theorists, who (as with Romney’s odd foreign policy statements about Russia, etc.) seem only to be repeating disproven mantras from the 1980s.
The conservative movement, when there was one, never trusted Mitt’s father. George Romney was too moderate. He served a relatively progressive Republican Richard Nixon as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, a department most tea partiers probably would like to see abolished. The younger Gov. Romney is mistrusted by the new, less intellectual conservative hard core not just for his prior moderation as the chief executive of Massachusetts, but also for his waffling and flip-flopping in the process of his tea party posturing. The “problem with Mitt,” as Scarborough titled his piece, is best understood by looking at conservative reactions, not predictable liberal critiques.
Romney is not a successor to any legacy–his father’s, Ronald Reagan’s, or the movement solidified by great thinkers like William F. Buckley Jr. He is only interested in being a successor to Barack Obama. That is not the kind of mentality that the conservative movement was built on.