Romney’s Good Enough

So it looks like it’s Romney. Now what?

Now we do our best to help him defeat Obama, for various reasons.

One oft-overlooked reason is that there’s a very good chance of the Republicans taking over the Senate, and that’s quite important. The voters who’ll vote for Republican senators sometimes won’t show up at the polls unless they plan to vote for President as well. If you can get them out to vote for Romney, you can thereby prevent leftists from controlling either house of Congress. Not a bad deal.

But the obvious reason to vote for Romney is this: Romney is preferable to Obama.

 

You may want to dispute that, but you shouldn’t. I know certain other candidates have been pegging Romney as “Obama lite.” Such exaggeration is fair game in the primaries – although even there it’s a bit dishonest, and dishonesty is a sin – but the primaries are basically over, now.

Romney was never the candidate we would hope for. But he is better than Obama. Perhaps a lot better, perhaps not; but certainly a little better. Case in point: even Romney would not have pulled this HHS mandate crap. Whereas Obama did pull this HHS mandate crap. Who’da thunk we’d need to be fighting for religious liberty in the U.S.A. without some post-apocalyptic Hunger Games scenario happening first? Yet here we are.

And then there is the PPACA (“ObamaCare”). If this act should happen to not be tossed out by the Supreme Court – which would be outrageous, but you never know – it will have firmly established by precedent the government’s power both to enact the HHS mandate and to do pretty much anything else. Folks, if that precedent is set, the future slide towards totalitarian nanny-statism is guaranteed, and in the end the HHS mandate will be one of our lesser concerns.

Yes, I realize that Romney enacted a similar health plan at the state level in Massachusetts, where it is constitutional, and it worked out badly. But Obama championed it at the national level, where it is not constitutional, after it had already been shown to be a bad idea at the state level. I think that makes a difference. Not as much difference as I’d like – I’d have preferred that Romney had the wisdom or the instincts to have known better than to try it at the state level – but the chastened and law-respecting Romney is still preferable to the seemingly un-chastenable Obama who considers constitutionally limited government to be an antiquated notion.

And then there is the pro-life issue. Does the Mexico City Policy ring a bell? Romney would have been on the right side of that one. And what about the fact that with two more pro-lifers on the court we could plausibly have achieved a reversal of Roe (putting aside moral issues, Roe was never even a sound piece of legal reasoning, for those who care about such things) sometime in the next few years?

But now, with the relatively youthful Sotomayor and Kagan firmly ensconced, it’ll be more like 20-30 years before the next opportunity is likely to arise. Which means, conservatively, that there are several million more murdered children in our future. Why? Because a lot of Catholics decided that voting for That Articulate Young Man With The Politically Correct Complexion suited their self-image better than voting for irritable war hero Crotchety McGrumps.

Well, what’s done is done. But let’s focus on the here-and-now and minimize the damage. Catholics, it’s time to vote for that Mormon guy. Conservatives, it’s time to vote for that blue-stater. Average-looking people, it’s time to vote for the Ken Doll. Folks with darker complexions, it’s time to vote for just about the whitest-looking white man in the race. Working stiffs, it’s time to vote for Richie Rich. We’re all grown-ups, here: Let’s suck it up and overcome our pettiness for the greater good.

So Romney’s a flip-flopper? Well y’know, sometimes it’s about the lesser evil. To offer an extreme example: Given the choice between a serial killer who’s full-bore gung-ho about serial killing, and one who’s a little conflicted and less-than-entirely dedicated to his work, give me the waffler. Obama’s a full-bore gung-ho post-American leftist class warrior with a penchant for undermining the Constitution. Romney, even if he’s a bit left of where you wish he was, still isn’t all that.

So Romney’s annoyingly well-to-do? Well, poor folk can’t  drop work to send their whole workforce searching for a friend’s missing daughter. And since when do non-millionaires run for president anyhow? (And have a snowball’s chance, I mean. The Naked Cowboy doesn’t count.)

So Romney’s a member of that funky religion with a past track-record of doctrinally supporting bigamy and racism and various faux-historical groaners, and the penchant for borrowing Christian theological terms but meaning wildly different things by them? Yes, I know. Even that very nice-sounding choir doesn’t quite make up for it, does it? But look, it’s hardly as if Catholics on Capitol Hill are in the habit of setting a good example of  sound doctrine and  holy lives, is it? Or integrity. Or even coherent thought, some of them. So you take what you can get, and you specialize: Give me Jesus for my good example, the Magisterium for my sound doctrine, and for defeating a really bad incumbent president, give me a well- funded and telegenic presidential candidate.

So Romney’s kinda plastic-looking? Well, as Mr. McGuire told The Graduate: “I want to say just one word to you…just one word.”

It is truly the (election) season of our discontent: We wish we could play Mr. Potato-Head with the soon-to-be nominee. We wish we could take out Romney’s negatives and replace them with various things: Gingrich’s debating skills and fearlessness, Herman Cain’s infectious happy-warrior attitude, Santorum’s pro-life credentials, and the more reasonable four-fifths of Ron Paul’s small-government principles. (Aside: Don’t you wish you could just fit Ron Paul with a  restraining bolt? Leave him more or less the same but without the penchant for walking off ideological cliffs or befriending kooks? But I digress.)

This Mr. Potato-Head thing would be great for the GOP slate of candidates. We could mix-and-match pieces and parts until all that was left of the original was Romney’s hair, smile, bankbook, and lack of a divorce. I’d be down with that, if it were medically possible.

But it isn’t. I’m sorry, gentlemen, but the GOP nominee isn’t Steve Austin. We can’t rebuild him. We don’t have the technology. We wish we could assemble our own Bionic Frankencandidate who suited our every liking except for the neck-bolts and the 70’s television sound-effects, but it isn’t going to happen.

Don’t let the imaginary best get in the way of a realizable good. Okay, a realizable not-that-bad. Okay, a realizable improvement on Obama.

Eyes on the prize, people. Eyes on the prize.

Cord Hamrick

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Cord Hamrick is a husband and father of three, raised an evangelical Christian in Southern Baptist churches. After years of lurking, questioning, and eventually opining in the Catholic blogosphere, he was received into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil, 2010. Cord is a sometime church musician, former praise-and-worship bandleader, frequent songwriter and arranger, occasional guitar teacher, and -- because one really must somehow pay the bills -- a developer of web-based software applications. He lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and three kids.

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