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The GOP’s fruitless search in 2012 for a real Reagan Republican?

Where, I asked in January, “is the conservative candidate at this conservative moment?” “In the current contest, . . . no candidate has emerged to take on Reagan’s mantle.”  In their search for a charismatic and principled conservatives who could rally the party faithful, many Republican voters, dissatisfied with the frontrunner and eager to find an alternative, have embraced, at various points during the campaign, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum.

Unlike Bachmann, Cain or Gingrich, however, Santorum has never really embraced the libertarian economic policies which defined the Gipper’s domestic policies — and now form the basis for the Tea Party’s agenda.  Moreover, as Ace observes, echoing John Podhoretz, Santorum lacks Reagan’s sunny disposition:

Santorum’s problem, again and again, is that he doesn’t want to make apositive uplifting case for things. He might have given a speech encouraging a newfound, recovered respect for the trades. He might have given a speech about the positive virtue of sweat. And it’s importance in America.

Instead he just brands those who wish their kids to go to college “snobs.”

Taking issue not with Santorum’s tone, but with the content of his recent robocall (faulting Romney for supporting TARP while opposing the auto bailouts), Jay Nordlinger seems dumbfounded, “And this is our guy? Santorum is the conservatives’ guy?

Many conservatives supported the bank bailout and opposed the auto bailout. You can look up arguments within NR editorials. Conservatives all over the country, in all sorts of forums, made arguments for and against — for and against either bailout. Those arguments continue now, retrospectively.

But is there any thinking or respectable conservative who uses Rick Santorum’s language — the bank bailout was for Mitt Romney’s “Wall Street billionaire buddies” while Michigan workers got their faces slapped? (Santorum opposed the auto bailout, too. Was he slapping workers’ faces?) (more…)

The libertarian moment for the GOP?

Looking at liberal blogger Ezra Klein’s “laundry list of Republican Party flip-flops”, the Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll finds a pattern:

In every policy area mentioned above, the Republican party has become more libertarian. Some Republicans used to like Keynesian stimulus, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. Some Republicans used to like individual mandates, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. Some Republicans used to like cap and trade, now they don’t. Libertarians never did. You get the idea. There is a reason Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has been speaking so highly of Ron Paul.

This shift, Carroll contends, corresponds with polling data showing that “Americas are just becoming more libertarian“, with “Republican leaders” merely “responding to those changing beliefs.”  The growing distrust of government solutions (to social and economic problems) has become particularly pronounced since Obama took office.

In a piece on former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s speech this past weekend to the California Republican Party Convention, Reason magazine’s Tim Cavanaugh contends the the Golden State GOP has floundered largely because its leaders have failed to embrace libertarian ideals:

The party is marginal and becoming more so, but the leadership is deathly afraid of the one proven source of Republican energy and enthusiasm – because that source is considered too marginal. If the California Republicans continue distancing themselves from the libertarian movement, they will continue to suffer, and so will everybody else who has to live in a state where one party has absolute power and the other refuses to compete.

He’s onto something.  Talk to small businessmen and -women here in Southern California, even to Democratic City Council candidates in West Hollywood, and you’ll hear these entrepreneurs grumbling about the amount of bureaucratic hoops they have to jump through before they can open up a new enterprise.  People across the political spectrum fault the state’s overspending and its overgenerous benefits to public employee unions.

In short, people here would welcome a government which scales back its intrusion into the marketplace — and reduces its expenditures.

To that end, we in California might more readily embrace a more libertarian Republican Party.   As would the nation as a whole.

A libertarian shift within the GOP, like those recent votes in Congress, would show Republican leaders embracing the emerging American consensus on the size of government.

NB:  Tweaked the post after its initial publication to make my point clearer.

Making Mischief in Michigan?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:18 pm - February 28, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

With Michael Moore telling Rachel Maddow that some of his “Democratic friends will vote for [Rick] Santorum in something they are calling Operation Hilarity“, we have some evidence that the DailyKos is having some success in their efforts to make mischief in the Republican primary, by getting their supporters to vote for Rick Santorum.

Indeed, one poll shows Romney leading among “actual Republican voters, 43-38,” but Santorum “up 47-10 with Democratic voters”.  And now Rick Santorum’s campaign has been robo-calling Democrats, urging them to vote for the former Pennyslvania Senator in the Michigan Republican primary.

In an e-mail to reporters and appearance this morning on Fox and Friends, Romney Spokeswoman Andrea Saul and the candidate himself, respectively, took Santorum to task for the calls, with the latter calling them “a terrible, dirty trick.”  Romney even accused his opponent of “trying to ‘kidnap our primary process‘”.  Santorum supporter Ed Morrissey disagrees, saying it’s hardly a “dirty trick” and “certainly not ‘kidnapping’ a primary that’s already open to Democratic voters.

Jennifer Rubin, a blogress sympathetic to the former Massachusetts Governor, contends that

Romney’s offensive serves two purposes: cushion the blow if he loses in Michigan; and jab at Santorum for hiding his contrasts with Democrats and trying to round up liberal help to beat the guy he says isn’t conservative enough.

I would add a third purpose.  This race has shown a lot of back-and-forth, indicating that there are a lot of wavering Republican voters in the Wolverine state.  Romney might be attempting to reach out to those voters — and other undecided Republicans, less likely to support the Republican being helped by the Democrats.

Polls have been showing Romney leading among Republicans. (more…)

The Artist, or the enjoyment of story-telling.

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:00 pm - February 28, 2012.
Filed under: Bibliophilia / Good Books,Movies/Film & TV

In his Preface to the 1982 edition the C.S. Lewis Anthology, On Stories: And Other Essays on Literature, Walter Hooper contrasts the featured essayist with “literary critics” who

. . . were encouraging readers to find in literature almost everything, life’s monotony, social injustice, sympathy with the downtrodden poor, drudgery, cynicism, and distaste: everything except enjoyment.

Everything except enjoyment.  This idea came to mind as I watched excerpts from the Oscars — a few hours after the telecast — and delighted in the success of Hugo and The Artist, the latter winning the lion’s share of the big prizes, including not only Best Picture, but also best actor for Jean Dujardin and best director for Michel Hazanavicius.

The film may offer no great insight into human nature, save to show that we enjoy a happy ending, celebrating instead the joy of making movies — and of telling stories.  Unlike other critically acclaimed films of recent days, it did not stint on enjoyment.

Indeed, it seemed that, as he paid homage to silent film, Hazanavicius kept his focus on crafting an enjoyable film — and entertaining his anticipated audience.  You leave this film with a smile on your face.

Let us hope that the idea of a movies which telling such a simple, sweet story and delights an audience regains the traction it once enjoyed in Hollywood.