There is a lot of talk these days about who can or cannot beat Barack Obama in the general election. Moderates say some candidate can’t win because he or she is too conservative. Conservatives argue that only a true conservative can win, that a moderate will be as successful as Dole in ’96 or McCain in ’08. Both sides are wrong. A look at American presidential history shows that the American people have voted for moderate Republicans (Nixon and Bush just two examples), conservative Republicans (Reagan and the 2nd Bush who ran as a conservative), and also for liberals in more than one occasion. They have even voted for a Marxist!
Ideology by itself does not predict whether a candidate is or is not electable. There is much more to it than just that. A successful candidate must be able to present himself as the solution to the problems facing the country.
Republicans, independents, and even some democrats agree that our country is spending too much money and accumulating too much debt. Those independents that supported Obama in ’08 are having buyer’s remorse and feeling that they placed an inexperienced man to lead our nation in very difficult times. They basically think he is way over his head. And they are right. Ideology is not the only thing that has made this President a complete disaster. His lack of experience has been painful to watch.
It is unlikely that the American people are going to trust the presidency, for the second election cycle in a row, to a completely inexperienced candidate. Obama, as the incumbent, would have the advantage if he has to face someone with the same thin resume as the one he brought to the White House. That, and not ideology, is the reason why candidates like Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman never had a chance of defeating Barack Obama.
Rick Perry, in theory, is a much better candidate. A ten year governor that can boast a series of accomplishments. Obama should have been petrified about having to face this guy. However, since announcing his candidacy, Perry has been so awful, especially in the debates, that most conservatives are worried that he would go to a debate with Obama and have a brain-freeze moment, or have a Gerald Ford moment and say something completely stupid, something that would throw the election to Obama. And this is an election we just can’t afford to lose.
Likewise, Rick Santorum has not generated the kind of performances that would give anyone confidence that he can go toe to toe against Obama.
There are only two candidates in this race that have a record of accomplishments, a record of fixing complex problems and turning things around, and a record that they can take to the American people as a clear contrast to the current incompetent occupier of the White House. Those two candidates are Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
Many conservatives are recognizing this and are going toward Gingrich as the only conservative alternative. In my opinion this is a huge mistake. Newt has a history of unethical behavior that cannot be ignored. He cheated on two out of his three wives, and if he is willing to lie to his own wife, who am I to think he is going to tell me the truth? This is going to be an issue during the campaign, with Obama portraying himself as the family man who can take care of his own family and can be trusted to take care of ours. If we as Republicans cannot win a debate on character, trust and family values, against a democrat, we are in big trouble.
The only recent example of a presidential candidate winning the presidency, in spite of having personal baggage like Newt has, was Bill Clinton. In that case, in both ’92 and ’96 the media protected Clinton and kept most of the allegations off TV. Newt will have no such luck. As soon as Newt gets the nomination everything there is to be known about his affairs will be exposed by an Obama-loving media. We will learn every detail. Conservatives might be willing to forgive and forget but the media is not. Newt’s indiscretions are all they will talk about from the day he wins the nomination until election night. And we will be expected to defend Newt’s actions and his character.
Those who want to believe that Newt can win in spite of his personal scandals want us to believe something that has never been in American history. Other presidents have had affairs, but such affairs were not well known when they ran for president. Nominating Newt is a recipe for a disaster. Character matters to the American people.
That leaves us with Mitt Romney. But isn’t he a flip-flopper? How can we trust anything he says? While Romney has changed his mind about some issues, his flip-flopping is greatly exaggerated.
Let’s take the abortion issue. The concern is that Romney is a closet social liberal that doesn’t care about the life issue and is just calling himself pro-life to get elected. During the senate race against Ted Kennedy he clearly tried to appease the electorate of Massachusetts by telling them he would not do anything to change the laws protecting a woman’s right to choose. But then, when a piece of legislation came to him to fund embryonic stem cell research, he couldn’t sign it. Life begins at conception and he could not sign a bill that would result in the destruction of human life. Let’s pause here for a moment and note that Romney’s wife suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Proponents of embryonic stem cell research have been selling the idea that their research can potentially cure many conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis. I am sure this was something that was brought up to Romney when he was considering the legislation. There are people who want you to believe that he threw his wife under the bus, ignored a potential cure for her, just to veto a bill that would allow him the opportunity to call himself pro-life so he could run for President. Really? There is no chance that he actually meant it, that he actually does believe that life begins at conception?
The reality is that he was faced with a legislation that conflicted with his values, that forced him to question those values, and in the end he demonstrated a sincere belief that life begins at conception.
If Mitt Romney was the kind of person willing to say or do anything to get elected, if he was the pathological liar that some conservatives are making him out to be, that would point towards a man who has some deep character flaws. If that is the case you would expect to see those character flaws not just in his political life, but in his private life too.
The Bible teaches us: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
When we said that Bill Clinton had no character or integrity to occupy the White House, we had evidence to back that up. He lied to his wife, lied to multiple women, and had multiple affairs. He was involved in unethical business deals (anyone remember Whitewater?). The dishonorable way in which Clinton behaved in the White House did not come as a surprise; it was in character with the kind of man that he was. The fruits of his flawed character were evident for anyone to see.
When we called John Kerry a flip-flopper who had no integrity, we had more than just a sound bite to back that up. The man exaggerated what happened to him in Vietnam, then threw his medals away and trashed his fellow soldiers to gain favor with the anti-war left, and then embraced back his medals to further his presidential ambitions. It wasn’t just his words. His actions were those of man with no principles, willing to do and to betray anyone, to achieve his purposes. The fruits of his dishonor came back to hunt him in the form of the swift-boat ads.
So let’s look at Mitt Romney’s life and works, his fruits, and see what kind of man he is.
– He has been married to the same woman for over 40 years. Not a single allegation of the man even looking inappropriately at another woman over the years.
– He was one of the most successful investment businessmen in America. To this day not a single former business partner has come forward to accuse Romney of any unethical dealings.
– He donated his father’s inheritance to charity. He donated his salary as Olympics’ president to charity. He donated his salary as Governor of Massachusetts to charity. He is the only politician running for president who can claim that he not only has not gained from any form of inside trading, but has actually not gained a single cent from being involved in public office.
– He was Bishop and stake president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One does not achieve this position in the church by having power and prestige. People more influential than Romney have not been called to be Bishops. The members of the church must have seen on him a man of faith and conviction in order to ask him to serve on those important roles.
– He was brought to take over the corrupt 2002 Olympic Games. He cleaned up the games, cleaned up the corruption, and turned the games from debt and financial disaster into a success and a profit. (The real point about the Olympic Games is that Romney, who did not have previous experience in running any kind of sporting event, was asked to take over the games because of his reputation as an honest businessman and turnaround specialist).
– As governor of Massachusetts, not only did he balance their budget, decreased spending, but he did not get involved in any crony capitalism deals. He did not pass any legislation to favor or enrich his political donors. Can any other of the politicians running claim that?
– He kept every major promise he made to the people of Massachusetts.
Are these the actions of a man who lacks a set of values and who is willing to do anything, betray anyone, in order to get elected? Or are they the actions of someone who has lived a life of conviction?
Is it possible that this man has lived most of his life with the utmost integrity, and now for the past few years has been telling lie after lie to get a few votes? The life of Romney is in direct contradiction with the image that is being portrayed of him by the media. Contradictions cannot exist and must be reconciled. Someone cannot be and not be at the same time. He can’t be a man of integrity and a liar at the same time. He has to be either one or the other. Either he is:
a. A man without a core of principles who is willing to say anything and betray anyone. In that case there has to be some skeleton in his closet waiting to be discovered. A mistress he has kept secret all these years. A business partner who he betrayed on his way to the top. A dirty business deal that could have landed him into legal trouble if anyone found out. Anything. Sure a man who lies so much on TV (I’ve seen the you-tube videos too) must lie even more in his private life where no one is recording his words.
b. A man of integrity and character who has had an honest change of mind about certain issues, and whose political enemies have exaggerated those changes in an attempt to smear his strongest attribute; his character.
It is easy to see the truth. When you consider that Romney was vetted in 1994 by the most vicious political machine in the nation (that of Ted Kennedy), and they were unable to find anything dirty on him, then you realize that (a) is not possible. It is easy to know the truth. Sometime it is difficult to accept it.
However, the truth is clear. Mitt Romney is a man of principles and integrity. A man with the needed character to trust him with the Presidency of the United States of America.
Some will ask: Is he conservative enough? Well, he significantly decreased spending in the state of Massachusetts, bringing their financial/spending crisis under control (remember the days when spending used to be the most important issue uniting Tea Party activists around the country?). At least on fiscal matters the record points toward a fiscally conservative candidate.
On social issues, he vetoed legislation that would destroy human life. There are many politicians who call themselves pro-life and who have been weak on the embryonic stem cell research issue. It is their conservative credentials that should be questioned, not Romney’s. He also was a vocal opponent of the Massachusetts’ Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage, and he did his best to try to stop it. And as stated previously he was a Bishop in the church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the most socially conservative churches in the country. It seems he is enough of a social conservative.
In foreign policy he has been advocating traditional republican positions of standing up to Iran. As governor he refused to provide police protection to the Iranian leader when he came to give a talk at Harvard. A vast difference between the ways liberals like to treat tyrants.
But what about Romneycare? Do I wish he would not have passed Romneycare? Of course. I think it was a mistake. Do I also wish that Sarah Palin hadn’t passed a windfall profit tax for oil companies in Alaska? Sure. Obama would love to implement a similar tax at a national level. And if he did so, we would accuse him of moving our nation closer to socialism. Do I hold it against Palin the socialist view that the people of Alaska own the profits of private oil companies? Of course not. Nobody is perfect.
To Romney’s credit, his plan was developed by the Heritage Foundation. If he was just following some hidden progressive instinct of his, would he really have called the most important conservative think-tank in the nation to help him craft his health-care reform?
Romney is not a perfect conservative, but he is far more conservative than he is being portrayed by his adversaries. The reality is that he is to the left of Reagan, but to the right of George W. Bush (Bush never decreased spending the way Romney has, and he never proposed a Medicare entitlement reform that moves younger workers to private insurance the way Romney has). As Reagan would say: Not bad. Not bad at all.
I have my own Bill Buckley rule, and it is quite simple: To vote for the most conservative candidate that has the minimum executive experience, integrity and character needed to win. In this presidential election cycle there is only one candidate who meets those criteria, and that candidate is Mitt Romney.
I intend to support him with confidence that he will be the 45th president of the United States. And I am sure that he is the right man to send the Occupier-in-Chief back to the Alinsky-infested streets of Chicago.
Dr. Michael Santos
Author and Physician