A follow-up on yesterday’s post about Romney, written in response to a friend who said he considered Romney and Huntsman the most liberal candidates still running.
I don’t think the position of the candidate on the conservative scale is what matters the most. I think it’s important to know where a candidate’s heart is, basically, but trying to determine relative conservatism is mostly guesswork. Even if we had a reliable calculus for measuring such a thing, I don’t think picking the candidate who has the most of it is going to give you the best candidate.
I think the ability to get the job done is a bigger concern, and a good candidate will be one who has that ability and who is on the conservative side of the issues. And nobody on the stage has a resume that can match Mitt when it comes to the ability to get the job done. Not even close. He and Huntsman are the only ones standing who have executive experience, and he has more experience in the business world than any of them. The history of candidates who only have legislative experience being elected president is not long — our current president being the exception that supports the rule — and most presidents in my lifetime have been governors (or vice presidents).
I recognize that many folks just want the vision guy who talks the most conservative platitudes and makes them feel good, and Mitt is not that guy. When elected, the constraints of the office are going to grind off any range on the conservatism spectrum the available candidates have, and what will be left is their ability to do the job. To bring together the interested parties and find a plan that can be implemented and make it happen. As much as I like the other candidates (and I do like all the non-symbolic candidates), they haven’t shown the ability to do that well. Newt did good work with the Contract for America, but recall that the only commitment made on the Contract was that all of the elements of it be brought before the Congress for an up or down vote in the first 100 days. That happened. And it was useful in electing Republicans to the Congress. But few of the bills actually passed. They were feel-good pieces that made no fundamental change in how government did its business.
I don’t expect my reasoning to prevail. But I do want to be on record asking people to stop seeking the perfect candidate — there never will be one, and there never has been. Letting the (imaginary) perfect be the enemy of the (real) good is unwise.