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Mona Charen
Mona Charen
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Best Foot Forward?


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, public-spirited, 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 Republican-leaning 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.

To find out more about Mona Charen and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



4 Comments | Post Comment
The fairness meme, while utter bullcrap, is a powerful one. I recall a study where they paired up thirsty people and offered them a drink. When it became clear that the other person was going to get more water than they would, people would opt for no one to get any water. Fairness is deeply embedded in our brains and Obama exploited that very well.
With all the gaffs Romney made, one wonders if he was ever trying to win in the first place. Let the democrats push us off the edge of the cliff. But people still somehow think Obama is not responsible for our growing debt, so the ploy may backfire. The current political scene reminds me of the Khans domination of Europe in the Middle East centuries ago. The Khans were brutal, and tactical geniuses. They manipulated their enemies into fighting with each other and not preparing for their attack. Then they struck and devastated their enemies. What I'm trying to say is that democrats are destructive and don't care about the means or the end, they just want power. And they are running circles around their competition to get it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:30 AM
I see you delete critical opinions at this website. Excellent. Go censorship! So American!!
Comment: #2
Posted by: schmielt
Thu Nov 15, 2012 12:20 PM
I too have noticed some of my harsher comments get deleted. If its the website that does it, thats their right. But the question is why are they doing it? Is the government making them? Are their advertisers doing so? We are going to see more and more restrictions on the internet in the next few years.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:08 PM
This is a comment found elsewhere on this web site. I have seen worse. What gets deleted? I'd hate to read it. "That you deliberately mislead or intentionally fail to inform your audience and attempt to mislead them is, I believe, your certainty that the people who read you trust you. You rely and abuse that trust and their ignorance knowing full well few, if any will check behind you or your partner in crime, Walter. Shame on you. Your lies and deceptions exploit their trust and allows their ignorance to continue and expose themselves as foolish and ignorant when they quote you and what they are quoting is a lie. You and your kind are fearful of telling the real truth and your verbal skills and manipulation of words can and do defeat truth on a regular basis. How proud you must be of yourself." People are also called "liars" and told they have no morals simply because of their views on economics. Talk about isolate and demonize.
Comment: #4
Posted by: P. Long
Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:31 PM
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