Our Views: GOP woes

Posted: November 20, 2012

As an antidote to the post-election blues, columnist Mona Charen took to the high seas last week with like-minded colleagues in the conservative movement on a cruise sponsored by National Review. As Miss Charen noted, their resolution — tendered, we presume, between buffet trips and bingo games — was not to convene “a circular firing squad.”

Too late, Miss Charen, as the rhetorical blunderbusses were already out in force in the wake of comments made by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney during a post-mortem chat with supporters. Still smarting from his electoral loss — and, perhaps, months of demonization at the hands of the win-at-any-cost Obama crowd — Mr. Romney, again rather “inartfully” (remember his “47 percent” remarks?), suggested that the president’s team had won not because it offered big ideas, but rather because it came bearing “gifts” to every special-interest group under the sun.

OK, that was probably better left unsaid, but then the same might be said of the in-house reaction to these sentiments. By and large, the conservative pund-ocracy went wild. Here, for example, is what The New York Post’s John Podhoretz had to say:

“Thanks to a phone call . . . in which he mused on the reasons for his defeat, the man whom many thought nine days earlier would be president is being treated with scorn and contempt by Republicans and conservatives who supported him. And deservedly so.”

Mr. Podhoretz went on to say that Mr. Romney was not “inclusive” (liberal buzzword) enough in his message, that his vision of a “dynamic” America was catered too much to the entrepreneurial class. And we say, how many times did Mr. Romney hold out the promise of good jobs for allAmericans?

Rather than take Mr. Romney feverishly to task, New York Times token conservative Ross Douthat directed his rhetorical fire at gloating liberals smug in the certainty that their self-styled “progress” is forever. In doing so, Mr. Douthat offered this keen observation: Whereas conservatives and Mr. Romney failed to acknowledge the “reality” of Middle America’s economic struggles, liberals are “indifferent to the deeper social roots” of these troubles.

In other words, this nation’s social safety net of long standing — “local associations civic, familial, religious” — is not working anymore and, as a result, struggling Americans have been consigned to the not-so-tender mercies of government as a stopgap.

This, Mr. Douthat maintains, is hardly a sign of “progress,” but of “decline.” And thus is nothing to celebrate. Food for genuine thought, don’t you think?