Thursday, January 31, 2008

Romney is Nice, But No President

Last night, at the final Republican debate before the Super Tuesday primaries, John McCain and Mitt Romney sparred over whether Gov. Romney advocated timetables for withdrawal from Iraq after the Republican Congressional defeat of 2006. Drunk with victory at the polls, the Democrats were speaking incessantly about bringing the troops home and establishing "timetables" for doing so. In that context, both ABC and CBS asked Mitt Romney for his views on withdrawing troops from Iraq. McCain rebuked his opponent for not giving the simple and decisive answer, "No!" Romney countered quite emphatically, and with visible irritation, indignation and even frustration as the charge kept returning, that he was speaking of various other timetables such as in fact we have.

The statements in question were these. From ABC News, "Romney Embraces Private Iraq 'Timetables'," whose Robin Roberts asked "if he believes there should be a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq"

Well, there's no question that the president and Prime Minister al Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about, but those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone. You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police and the leadership of the Iraqi government.

On CBS's "Early Show," Romney said:

Well, I wouldn't publish [a timetable] for my adversaries to see. [Instead he advocates] a series of milestones, timetables as well, to measure how well they're doing. But that's not something you publish for the enemy to understand, because of course they could just lay in the weeds until the time that you're gone. So these are the kinds of things you do privately, not necessarily publicly.

ABC then made this interesting observation: "While Romney's Tuesday call for 'milestones' is nothing new, he has mostly shied away in the past from employing the more politically charged terminology of 'timetables.'" They also included a statement from a Romney official explaining what the candidate meant. In other words, the controversy was immediate, not something John McCain has invented.

As head of the executive branch of government, the President's chief responsibility is to defend the lives and liberties of the people against enemies both foreign and domestic. The two chief threats to the lives of people in this country are Radical Islam (primarily al Qaeda) and abortion. All the remaining candidates are square on the abortion question. But this remark just over one year ago under the pressure of fashinable thinking and voter anxiety shows that Mitt Romney does not possess the mettle and judgment to be commander in chief of the armed forces which is fully one half of the job.

I have tried to see the merits of this fellow. He did a good job last night of defending his record as Governor of Massachusetts. He was almost Reaganesque in his warmth. My guard was coming down. But in his altercations with the smiling and self-possessed McCain, he showed none of Reagan's executive fierceness. At no point did his words, tone, or manner suggest, "Don't mess with me."

Of the four men, there was only one President among them, and that was John McCain. The questions for Republicans is: who do you want confronting the deadly international evil that threatens us in Iraq, Iran, North Korea and in sleeper cells here at home and who do you want making the next two appointments to the Supreme Court: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain. The stakes are too high for a "sit this one out" strategy.


Richie said...

I agree with almost all of your thoughts here.

A quick question, though. With a supposedly pro-life president, a supposedly pro-life congress, and a 5-4 advantage on the Supreme Court, what exactly was done to curtail abortion?

The court question is a little dicey (which way would Kennedy or O'Connor go), but the GOP held Congress and the Presidency, and they did nothing. I consider abortion to be the most shameful (ongoing) episode in American history, but it's a little disingenuous to act like the pro-life views of the next President are going to make a difference in overturning Roe v. Wade. I just don't see either party doing much to end (or increase) abortion. It's much safer to keep the status quo, and be "pro-life" or "pro-choice" and not do anything about it.

I've arrived at the same conclusion as you about McCain, although I think there is something to be said concerning the cathartic potential of an Obama presidency.

Obama, Clinton, McCain, Romney, or Britney Spears, there will still be babies being murdered in 2012. Abortion is legal because Americans want abortion to be legal.

I'm too young to be this cynical, I think....

Afayemarie said...

It might not be the most prudent move to declare a candidate inferior based on a candidate's single night slip-up. In addition to a terrorist issue, a dominant issue of concern with Americans is the economy. John Amnesty McCain hasn't gotten his story straight on this, .

Also, if McCain is the candidate with the "fire in the belly" concerning these issues, why does he currently have less than a 50% show up for Senate votes? McCain has missed more than 52 percent of the 401 votes in 2007 alone! ( ,
) This is a shamefully low turn out for a "don't mess with me", clear and decisive candidate who cares about policy issues. Instead of a "Don't mess with me" presidential figure, if McCain continues his prior habits, he seems like he'd be more of a "don't-mess-with-the-issues-and-legislation-voting" president.

David C. Innes said...

In the end, I don't think it matters. The Democrats are all charged up and excited about their dream candidates. At best, the Republicans are indifferent about theirs. This has 1996 written all over it. Our next president with be Hill or Obama.