Obama Bails out Romney

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I think Jennifer Rubin gives Mitt Romney too much credit when she notes that his campaign has shifted to offense in the wake of Barack Obama's latest attack on individual achievement:

There are two ways to respond to an onslaught of negative, vicious attacks. One is to say they are negative and vicious and to try to disprove them. But like birthers, the ones making the attacking continue to claim there is an "open question." The other is to go on offense.

Romney seems to have seized the opportunity to pivot away from talking about when he resigned and his tax returns to this revelation about Obama's underlying philosophy. In a speech in Pennsylvania he hit his stride[.]

Barack Obama is your dream opponent if you want to make your election about broad philosophical issues. His entire first term has been about expanding the entitlement state, and during his previous campaign, he so blatantly attacked American individualism that even mainstream reporters were reminded of Ayn Rand.

Romney's pivot is no clever move, but a pragmatist's expedient grasp at an opportunity to get out of a jam. Romney could have easily attacked Obama's governing philosophy from Day One. Should Romney manage to lose to such an opponent -- whose latest utterance also seems to have been anticipated by Ayn Rand, this time in Atlas Shrugged (aka Obama's Playbook) -- it will be an quite an achievement. (Sadly, it has already been equalled by John McCain.)

If Romney wins, those of us who understand individualism and the proper role of government better than the man who signed ObamaCare into law before it became known as ObamaCare will have to take over from Obama the task of reminding the public that the entitlement state places freedom and prosperity in grave danger.

The fact that Romney wasn't on offense to begin with both speaks volumes about him and his underlying political philosophy, which is quite similar to Obama's. He is intellectually bankrupt, but his opponent has bailed him out -- for now.

-- CAV


Steve D said...

Hmm...if I didn't know better, I might thing Obama was perusing Ayn Rand's stories for rhetorical ideas.

Steve D said...

‘He is intellectually bankrupt’
The problem is that his opponent (Obama) is not intellectually bankrupt. He has a lot of bad ideas. The only possible saving grace seems to be that Obama is an incompetent; he can’t even decide if he is a socialist or fascist. He’s not even very good at translating his bad ideas into practice.
But you are right; Obama is the rational candidate’s dream opponent. It’s as if we are being allowed one final reprieve, a blatant toleration running for office on a horrible record; as if all the cards are being stack against him and Providence standing aside laughing at us, saying: “OK America, this is it.”
And the latest poll puts them in a dead heat? Even if defeated, the fact that Obama was ever elected in the first place will forever be a shameful stain on American honor. Why he could possibly get more than a single vote is beyond my comprehension – and no I don’t think even his wife should vote for him.
So what would happen, if a politician like Romney or someone else actually decided to consistently espouse the correct ideas? Do you think the country would yet respond or have we now passed that ‘point of no return?’
I get the sense that there is a grand debate occurring today, everywhere, in the media, in politics and at the water coolers and backyard barbecues, perhaps it’s the final public debate. But the whole ‘tea party thingy’ seems to be nothing more than a group of desperate people scraping to find the right direction. If you read the conservative and libertarian websites and blogs there seems to be sense that Romney is a stop gap – maybe he will stench the bleeding long enough for better ideas to prevail.
The chances are low. Are they close enough to zero to be indistinguishable from it? I don’t know.

Gus Van Horn said...

The chances of America pulling back from the precipice are low, but the alternative is unthinkable and probably unsurvivable for most.

The country isn't ready for the perfect candidate, but it's getting closer. The race is between how fast the culture changes and how quickly the economy, our better institutions, and what I think of as "freedom by inertia" are eroded.

Steve D said...

'The race is between how fast the culture changes...'

That is the question that I ask every day. Is the culture changing in the right direction (and at the right speed), or not?

And most importantly, how do you measure that?

Gus Van Horn said...

I don't think you can really measure it, but you can look through history for similar events and guess. For an example of dramatic cultural change, the abolitionists succeeded in ridding America of slavery over a span of mere decades.

bigjim said...

Atlas Shrugged Part 2 will be in theaters Oct 12, 2012.

Steve D said...

‘the abolitionists succeeded in ridding America of slavery over a span of mere decades.’
It seems to me that the prevalent philosophy of the time, which was embedded in the Declaration of Independence, as well the trends towards abolition which were occurring all over the world were on the side of the abolitionists. In other words, their greater achievement was how fast they achieved the deed, rather than the fact that they accomplished it in the first place.
Today, the prevalent trend seems a muddle to me. Of course, it may be difficult for someone living through specific developments to perceive their meaning (i.e. foresight vs. hindsight). There could be a sudden lurch in the right direction that I cannot foresee (or the opposite) but overall I do not get the sense that things are moving in the right direction.
Romney is the case in point. He’s no Reagan, who was in turn no Goldwater, who was in turn was no real advocate of capitalism. Obama is another case in point; one of the most incompetent socialists in history.
One of the most observable features of the later Roman Empire before they crashed was their failure to produce great men, for good or ill. Contrast this with their rise, when the most able of generals slaughtered each other in battle after battle.

Gus Van Horn said...

I agree that it's hard to see a definite overall trend now, but in a sense, it's irrelevant: Things will plainly get worse unless the culture improves.

Unless one concludes that society has reached the point of no return -- I haven't -- then one should work to turn things around in whatever way he can.

Steve D said...

‘Unless one concludes that society has reached the point of no return…’
It depends upon what you mean by a point of no return because in one sense it doesn’t exist. I think you mean at the point where only a violent revolution or massive civil disobedience would restore freedom. I believe you could make an argument that we are already there. It’s hard to really know, though.
But things could turn around fast. I think you are right about that – the tea party for example gives me some hope. It proves that not everyone is willing to sit back and wait for the evitable. That’s not a typo but evitable is a word you don’t see used very often today. Perhaps it should be. Just because there are deep psychological reasons for historical cycles doesn’t mean they have to occur.
On the other hand we won’t vote our way out of this mess. To clarify, if we ever get to the point where we are about to, we would already be out of it. Then it will be far too late for the statists.
My frustration is that I deal with a lot of very smart people who simply do not want to or are incapable of using common sense in their world view but have no problem at all using it wrt science.

Gus Van Horn said...

I can understand your frustration, but you have to remember that the vast majority of people do not think much about (much less challenge) the broadest cultural assumptions, and often wall off the parts of their lives where they DO think. Those people may, through inertia (e.g., by casting ballots) help make things worse, but they don't count in terms of cultural change. This is why the focus of cultural activism is primarily at universities, where there is a concentration of active thinkers and younger people, who have not become set in their ways, and may yet be open to unconventional ideas.

Steve D said...

‘This is why the focus of cultural activism is primarily at universities,’
No doubt that’s the prime spot, although we don’t always have a good choice about with whom or where we make our arguments. Sometimes they find us like when really nutty statements are made which beg a response etc.
So this would suggest that to understand in what direction and how fast change is occurring, we should focus on the universities. So for example; are there more student Objectivists in the universities today, more faculty with the correct ideas?
'often wall off the parts of their lives where they DO think.'
They do this by walling off sections of their mind and they are so very good at it, too! Sometimes it takes my breath away when the smartest of people make the dumbest of arguments. I once heard a top science professor actually make the statement that he feared a trade deficit more than a budget deficit and a few minutes later go on to ascribe magical properties to money. Whoa…almost like a politician.
I asked him which he worried more about as an individual; his absolutely horrendous trade deficit with the local grocery store or taking on too much credit card debt. That logic didn’t seem to faze him a bit. He continued on as if nothing had been said, without even bothering to rebut my argument. He had a bad case of magical thinking, through and through.
Personally, I did a whole lot of my thinking, magical or otherwise before I went to university and that was certainly the point in my life where I was most open to new ideas. By the time I got to college I had already read most of the philosophers, knew quite a lot of history, science culture, etc.
Perhaps high schools might also be good targets for activism.

Gus Van Horn said...

There are definitely more Objectivist college students and faculty now than there were about a quarter century ago when I was in college. I also think that it's much harder for faculty opponents of Rand to simply pretend that she doesn't exist or to get away with misrepresenting her positions now than it was then.