The GOP Is Useless
by Paul Gottfried
Last spring GOP columnists were already urging their fellow party-members to nominate a centrist for the presidential race. Kim Strassel (April 5, 2011) and Peggy Noonan (April 29, 2011) in Wall Street Journal and Michael Barone and Jonah Goldberg in their syndicated columns all warned against reaching too far right for a presidential candidate. Noonan identified this practice with a “mood of antic cultural pique” and a tendency “to annoy the mainstream media” that came out of the Tea Party insurgency last year. She pointed to McCain, Dole, the two Bush presidents, and Romney as suitable candidates for a party that needs “the center where most of the voters are.” On May 18 Goldberg announced that “already the conversation on the right is moving toward the all-important question of electability – which candidate can peel off the handful of independents needed to win an election that will be a referendum on Obama and his record.” He knows his fellow “conservative voters” “barring a truly fringe nominee” can be counted on to “vote against Obama, no matter what.”
Goldberg, Noonan and other Republican journalists were and are shoving their party toward the center even before the primaries get underway. Fortunately for them, the targets of their advice may already be where they want. Republican voters have usually favored presidential candidates who hug the “center.” Unlike the Democrats, who in 2008 happily reached leftward to nominate and win with “the candidate of hope,” Republicans try hard to avoid controversy.
They are happy with lackluster moderates like Jerry Ford, Robert Dole, and George H.W. Bush and perhaps they will soon be nominating that ultimate waffler Mitt Romney, who as governor of Massachusetts moved from the social and economic left to the center right, when he decided to seek the presidency in 2007. Once Romney sews up his party’s nomination, he’ll be expected to move a bit to the left, in order to pick up independents and perhaps a few stray black, Jewish and Hispanic voters from the Democrats. Stephen Baldwin, who is gathering information for a book The Manufactured Candidate, has argued that Romney holds no “coherent worldview” except for shameless flipping on issues to advance his career. Black Republican columnist Deroy Murdock complained as early as February 2007 that Romney is so “fine a thespian” that” no one knows where the performer ends and the character begins.”