Who Was Romney Attacking with the “Embarrass” Comment?

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Mitt Romney a few days ago said he would not embarrass us as president. He said the same thing this morning in a Washington State rally.

Since I was present at the speech, let me share with you what I thought he meant. It was rather clear, for anyone who has any ears. He documents the number of embarrassing things Obama did while in office. Then he ends that string of comments with the statement, “I will not embarrass you in the White House.” Obviously, it has nothing to do with Santorum or Gingrinch or any other candidate but Obama.

Why the right has gotten their panties in a twist over this comment is beyond me. I guess they’re looking for anything to stir up interest in our primary.

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6 Responses to “Who Was Romney Attacking with the “Embarrass” Comment?”

  1. The Observer Says:

    This is an interesting statement by Governor Romney. I am not a Republican, primarily because I have grown into an independent thinker and do not support any “company” line by default. That said, another reason I am not a Republican (anymore) is because over recent years I feel that the party is misinterpreting the signals it thinks it is getting from its members and as such is ever more progressively trending “moderate.” I am certainly no seer, so I could easily be wrong, but I think we may be witnessing the death of the GOP as we have traditionally known it, much like how the Democrats’ membership and consequent impetus changed dramatically following the many social and civil upheavals of the 1960s.

    As an Arizonan, I can honestly say that while few people are as socialist/progressive as President Obama in mainstream American politics, in retrospect I am glad that he was elected and I will explain why. If Senator McCain, who as a moderate Republican is not all that much different from Obama’s moderate governance relative to his radically liberal credentials entering the contest, would have been elected we would have likely seen many other Big Government initiatives – albeit altogether different ones, to be sure – instituted with far less fan-fair and/or public resistance simply because he would have been viewed as mainstream, establishment, “safe,” white, having a normal-sounding name, etc. We owe the emergence of energized, involved, and (hopefully) informed limited government proponents – particularly young ones – to his being elected, even though some of them are involved for ignorant reasons, I hate to admit (there will be a “10%” in every collective, of course).

    I see the same thing developing with Governor Romney if he were to win the 2012 election. His record does not distinguish him all that much from the president. By now virtually everyone knows that Obamacare was largely modeled on his own Big Government overreach of natural rights with regard to the individual mandate and providing commodities to some at the expense of others. Regardless of his states’ rights argument, which is a gross misinterpretation of the overall role of the institution in society, no government at any level possesses a legitimate authority to compel free individuals to purchase anything simply for existing. Additionally, he hails politically from one of the worst states in the Union with specific regard to self-defense and firearms rights, which he must take some ownership for if even for his inactivity and/or ineffectiveness. Who knows, he may make a remarkable turnaround from his political past as Reagan did but this does not necessarily mean that he would be doing so with integrity.

    All I am ultimately getting at here is that I think we may see a lot more “moderate” Republicans – both the politicians themselves and the electors – being absorbed by the Democrats since there is a diminishing difference of message and values between the two in some circles, which could either give rise to a new party (such as the TEA Party if it can sustain itself), cause an overhaul of the GOP as what happened with the Democrats during and following the Civil Rights Movement, and/or send a lot of self-identified conservatives to the ranks of the independents permanently.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      The charge that “Romneycare” had much to do with Romney’s views on government, or that they are not conservative views, is patently absurd. He had a choice when Massachusetts clamored for single-payer health care: he could stand outside the process, even vetoing the bill when it came through, only to see the supermajority override it, or he could actively involve himself in the negotiations to get as many conservative principles in the health care bill as possible. With help from the Heritage Foundation and with ideas from conservatives across the country, he chose to inject himself into the process, and he was surprisingly effective at what he did get to influence.

      I’d recommend you write down what you think “conservative” means. Write it down, keep it someplace safe, and revisit it every few years. To me, a conservative is someone who is not a statist, that is, who believes the power the government has comes directly from the people, and that those powers are few and definite. A statist turns to individuals to solve societies problems, rather than relying on government to do so.

      With the definition above, Romney is clearly conservative, much moreso than any other candidate save Ron Paul. Even there, the difference between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney is pursuing a practical course of action that will achieve actual reforms, while Ron Paul favors message over victory. If you think Newt or Rick are the anti-statists, you are sorely, sorely mistaken! Both of them are counting on the power of the state to change society, rather than seeking office to limit the power of the state.

      If, instead, your definition of “conservative” depends on the winds of politic change, then you’ve got a worthless definition and you might as well turn on the evening news and vote for whomever they say is a good person. I can no more trust Ann Coulter than Rush Limbaugh or anyone else to be the guidepost by which I define my terms. Humans are far too fragile and far too easily deceived to deserve any sort of respect in that way.

      Look deep in your heart, and write down why you think Romney is a less-than-stellar nominee. Then, seriously investigate the claims, from all angles. Ask yourself, “If I were in his shoes, what would I do differently?” If you can’t think of a better way to do the things he has done, then you have nothing to blame him for. When you look at the big picture, free of sound-bites and misdirection, you’re going to see a totally different man than the guy who appears in conservative blogs.

      As for me, I did my own investigation and I found that among all the candidates, even going back to Reagan, Romney is superbly qualified. In fact, he’s even more qualified to be our standard bearer than Reagan, who did things far more statist than Romney ever dreamed of doing,

  2. The Observer Says:

    Fair point regarding Reagan and I do not disagree. I do, however, think that you took a little liberty with putting words into my mouth. I have not espoused Governor Romney as being any more or less conservative than Speaker Gingrich or Senator Santorum and, frankly, do not find either one of them especially appealing from that perspective.

    Beyond that, I have a highly developed sense of what conservatism is in this context though I tend to refer to it by another, older name: classical liberalism. My definition will likely differ from your own to some degree; I believe that government can only legitimately exist to do one thing and one thing only and that is to protect individual rights and freedom pursuant to the Natural Law. Anything more results in government functioning as I mentioned elsewhere, merely as a means for one group or person to make gains in power or wealth at the expense of another. This is where we are today, where government’s main day-to-day focus is on determining who gets what, a slow and steady evolution toward full kleptocracy. My definition certainly includes the concept of anti-statism but also touches on other aspects of the government/governed relationship that differs from characteristics of what modern conservatives are typically expected to be.

    To that end, I do not agree 100% with any candidate on all issues, to be sure. Neither do I agree with a practical electoral approach for sake of the win at the sacrifice of sticking to the guns of principle, even when it might mean defeat. This, probably, is where we diverge even if our personal values may be quite similar. I personally think there is a lot more to be said about someone who fought the good fight and lost than someone who compromised the good fight in order to win. “If you cannot beat them join them,” even if it means injecting some conservative elements into an overall inappropriate or illegitimate government effort, is simply not a good conservative approach by my definition – but we all must make our own decisions in this regard.

    This is, I suppose, my main problem with Governor Romney; he is, as you eluded, a compromiser and compromising, in my opinion, is largely what has led us to where we are today. The specific examples of this include his support as governor in 2007 for the Massachusetts abortion law despite his professed opposition to it, his general support for the so-called War on Drugs (not a classical liberal tenet), his proclaimed willingness to ban “assault” weapons (as if there are any other kind?), and his desire to keep massive entitlements ongoing despite the fact that they are in no way compatible with limited government or individual rights. But these are just the specific characterizations of the underlying perception that bothers me – namely, that Big Government will be embraced when it is politically convenient to do so. In this way, Big Government has always been the eventual result of compromise and I happen to believe that ethics, if worth having, are uncompromising – particularly the ethics related to the nearly unlimited power that government wields over the individual in everyday life.

    To be fair, I am generally attracted to the governor’s proclaimed approaches to the free market economy, energy, immigration, and his anti-union stance. But again, the demonstrated willingness to compromise ethics is troublesome for me. I am no longer interested in a candidate who will suppose that because s/he might lose the principled fight they must work to make the bitter pill slightly easier to swallow. Rather than working to eliminate unconstitutional entitlements that enable the legalized plunder of the individual, for example, the governor would rather reform them to make them more palatable so that someone else will inevitably have to deal with the them later – either the politician(s) that seek(s) to expand them (again), the politician(s) that finally seek(s) to remove them altogether, or the people that must deal with the fallout when the piper must ultimately be paid. By my definition that is not conservative leadership, neither is it how liberty is defended or how it was established in this country, which we are so fortunate to have inherit and should be willing to protect without compromise.

    I would certainly admire the Governor more if he had vetoed the healthcare bill and been overridden by the supermajority. Then I would not have a question of whether or not he will do what he can, commensurate with the powers and influence of the given office, when the going inevitably gets tough. Compromise, if nothing else, invariably leads to hypocritical stances and records which are nearly impossible to meritoriously defend or reconcile with subsequent policy discussions. I suppose that is why I like Dr. Paul more – beyond the fact that, as you pointed out, he is the most conservative candidate according to classical liberal thought – he tells the same story and says the same things no matter who he is speaking to and votes the same way consistently. That really tends to rankle his contemporaries on both sides of the political aisle which, in this day and age of modern aristocracy, is typically a good sign. Where I disagree with Dr. Paul, I at least have no question of where he stands and he still errs on the side of individual liberty rather than on the side of a willingness to play for the win that will ultimately further enable government overreach.

    I guess it boils down to this for me – if I am unwilling to bend on the issues that personally impact me regarding freedom such as gun control, taxation, property rights, and the like, then I simply cannot bend on whom I politically support simply because other people (e.g., the media) think that s/he is “unelectable.” You never know unless you try, as they say, and I certainly do not see significant change for the positive being wrought by “electable” candidates. To me, electable equates to more of the same but the governor still has a bit of time to make his case and I am nothing if not fair and objective in my critical analysis. As you mentioned, the best thing these two could likely do would be to proactively bridge the gap for the sake of the message and practicality.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I think your argument boils down to this: You refuse to compromise in many things. I understand that point, and I will try to persuade you to think differently.

      Jesus said, “Agree with thine adversary quickly whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.” (Matthew 5:25) I understands this to be, “Don’t fight with your enemy, because you may end up losing. And when you lose, you get thrown into prison.” I would add, “And sometimes you end up dead.”

      I call your mind back to ancient Biblical history. The Israelites emerged from the wilderness and saw the bountiful land they were to possess. The 12 spies returned with their report, and the people of Israel became defeatist in their attitude, and rebelled against God and refused to fight. So God told them they would wander in the wilderness for 40 years. And then a bunch of men stood forward to say they were going to fight after all. They were soundly defeated. I think this story shows how fickle victory is, and how must be ready and willing to accept whatever defeat gives us. Even if it means “compromising” for 40 years, it is better to be alive than dead. Those men who decided to fight even though God said they could not win hurt themselves and their families—and for what? Absolutely nothing.

      Now to (comparatively) modern history. Many times the English people had themselves a king who was despotic. In order to overthrow such a king, they needed military strength and financial support. In many cases, they could not possibly have stood up to the king themselves, with rare exceptions such as Cromwell. If people decided to try a rebellion anyway, they ended up dead. Sometimes they turned to their worst historical enemy, France, and petitioned one noble or another to come invade England and take the crown for themselves. Imagine that! English people begging the French to rule over them! What would drive them to do this? Compromise. Their choice wasn’t to live with a good king or a bad king. Their choice was death, living under the bad English king, or living under the French king.

      Oftentimes, we are faced with non-ideal choices. We get to choose between bad thing #1 and bad thing #2. No matter how much we wish we had a choice between good and bad, we were not dealt that hand. If we have virtue and morals and if we have ideals we try to live by, and if we honestly assess what our choices are, then we must choose the better part, even if it is something bad.

      If our choice is between supporting one of many candidates, and if none of them represent our views, then we are faced with a choice: Do we support no candidate or one of the bad candidates listed above, or do we propose our own candidate? If we do choose to support a bad candidate, which one? Do we choose one we like the most, even though it’s obvious he is unelectable? Or do we limit our choices to candidates who can actually win, and support the one closest to our ideals until it becomes clear they cannot win?

      If we choose to support a losing candidate, then we are choosing to wander for their term. Sure, it might be to our advantage in the long term, but perhaps it would have been better to support the non-ideal candidate who won, if not simply because we would have some degree of influence in the choice they make as an official? Perhaps we or people from our group will get some positions of power, where we can do right, even though we are a small part of his coalition.

      Right now, the choices we have are all pretty good. Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich, and even Paul seem to be largely aligned on many of the issues we care about most. I think we are being spoiled, though. We have been given a choice between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Are we going to scream that we want strawberry ice cream, and spoil our chances of getting any ice cream at all? What happens to the kid who keeps on demanding what he cannot get? He gets nothing at all.

      Politics is where grown-ups realize that their ideas are not the same as the ideas of the people around them. It is the area where they have to think really hard whether it is more important to get some of what they want, or nothing at all. It is the area where people check their own egos and ideas at the door, and do their best to convince others why they are right at the same time.

  3. The Observer Says:

    And yet the Bible is full of life principles that are uncompromising, such as the Ten Commandments (particularly the First) and the prescribed pathway to salvation through Christ. Should Peter have denied Christ for the fourth time so that he might have been saved from a martyr’s tortured fate, so he might have lived? Could Christ Himself be considered not a “grown-up” because He refused to capitulate to the Pharisees?

    I am disappointed that this discussion, which had such constructive promise, has devolved to the point where you seemingly felt an insinuated insult was necessary. I had hoped that this would be a wonderful opportunity for the free exchange of ideas and information – even in disagreement – without such nonsense but clearly I was wrong.

    For whatever reason, what I considered to be objective criticism of a man’s record of performance as a public official has apparently been taken personally, though I am not quite sure why. Apparently the merits of one’s argument or perspective are not sufficient in direct debate here, which is too bad as insulting someone simply because they disagree is not typically the most effective means of persuasion or enlightenment. I will avoid giving offense in the future by seeking environments for such discussions elsewhere.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I think it comes to this: When you have the power to make a choice, choose the right, always. When we live our personal lives, we can live by the Ten Commandments and the higher commandments to love our enemies and such that Jesus taught.

      When it comes to politics, the best we can do is influence in some small degree the public opinion towards righteousness. The worst thing we can do is withdraw entirely or tilt at windmills.

      When I choose to support the candidate that has a good chance of winning but doesn’t reflect all of my personal views, I am doing what I can to influence things towards what I believe to be the correct path. If I did any less, I don’t think I would be doing the best I can do with my power.

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