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Owning Your Leader

November 26th, 2012
A whole lot of Republicans are now falling all over Romney with recriminations about how he threw the election. Here's a news flash, kiddos: you chose him. And not only did you choose him, you knew who he was when you chose him. You knew that he was an out-of-touch plutocrat. You knew he was a major-league flip-flopper. You knew he was an awkward, goofy gaffe machine. You knew that his ideas and policies were vague, inconsistent, and unworkable. What I'd like to hear is a Republican who is saying, “Man, we really screwed up. We should have gone with Huntsman.” Maybe someone out there is saying it, but I haven't heard it spoken very loudly. The thing is, Republicans tend to do this—run away from their choices after they fail. Remember the George W. Bush administration? Most Republicans don't seem to have. A pet peeve of mine is all the Republicans who are now claiming that they not only disagreed with Bush when it came to his deficit-busting spending and other bad choices, but they claim that they spoke out against him while he was in office. I have heard so many Republicans make that claim, you would think that 2001-2008 was a time thick with right-wing complaints against Bush. Funny, I don't remember any of their voices saying that back then. Maybe they were whispering. Whenever a Republican makes that claim, they should be required to provide sources. They never do. And I bet it's because, if you looked up those sources, you'd find them as small caveats or minor quibbles within a greater text of praise and support for Bush. As in, “Well, I love the president's budget and I heartily approve all his policies, but we will, at some point, have to deal with the budgetary impact.” Which, of course, is not “opposing” or “speaking out against.” Of course, we'll never see those sources referenced. These are people who screwed up big time; the whole point of the exercise is to lie. A related point is when Republicans appear on talk shows and try to sound reasonable. “You don't know it,” they say, “but not all Republicans are like that. Many of us are [insert reasonable stand on a specific policy here].” Many of these are people who are staunchly conservative on most issues but have one where they are moderate, and so try to paint themselves—and the party as a whole—as reasonable and mainstream. A good example is Bill O'Reilly, who makes a point about how he is for gun control, as if that makes him a moderate or something. A few of these people actually are moderates—but they are such a minority that they never have an impact within their party. And that's the real test: if you can not or will not advance your moderate views within the Republican Party so they have any chance of moving the dial even a tiny bit, then your moderate leanings are meaningless. What matters are the policies which get presented, advocated, and passed—not the policies that a few wish for but never do anything about. You can't take credit for things that never materialize. Now, this may not be the fault of the true moderates, as they are marginalized by the extremists in their own party. Which brings us back to how Romney won the nomination. Virtually everything the Republican Party puts forth these days must pass extremist muster—which is why only a bunch of clowns were potentially successful candidates this year. I remember seeing a Hispanic Republican on a talk show recently, who claimed that she was offended by a lot of stuff that Romney said, and didn't like him—but supported him wholeheartedly because he was the GOP candidate. However, you can't do that: the only way he'll stop being offensive is if you criticize him for it when it matters, not afterwards. Criticizing him now helps neither you nor him at all. It's pointless, self-serving criticism, like saying, “I didn't say it at the time, but I knew you should have taken the left turn at Main Street, we would have gotten here much faster. I was right and you were wrong.” Nor did I feel that this person could claim much credit for being so reasonable. It comes down to this: if you march in the Clown Parade, then you belong to it. If you come over to the sidelines and tell me, “Man, I wish they'd stop wearing so much makeup and piling into Volkswagens all the time,” I am not going to be impressed if you then step right back into the Clown Parade and fully support their actions. If you back someone without making your reservations known when it matters, then you own their whole deal, whether you like it or not. Sure, Republicans can be disappointed with Romney. But they can't act like they didn't make him what he was—which means they have to be disappointed with themselves as well.

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