The EFM Feature

It’s called “The Returned Prodigal or the Ally: Why Romney Should Beat Rudy,” and it is right on:

In any church, the person who does the most work and is most dedicated to the cause is the convert or the prodigal member who has come back to faith. Have a meeting and he will come . . . ask for help and he is there. In short order, the convert is soon a leader . . . often blowing past more stable older brothers who have become a bit tired in their dedication to the cause.
It sometimes causes resentment in the older brothers, but the prodigal who returns often makes the best new leader. Nobody has to tell them the value of Father’s house . . . and nobody has to worry that they will be seduced by the other side. They have eaten pig food and don’t want to go back!
Good churches also attract friends and allies that are not members, could never be members, but who help it talk to the outside world.
These allies can never join or lead the church, but keep it from becoming cult-like and too insulated.
I believe in the power of the convert . . . and am always looking for allies. What applies to a church or club also is true in politics . . . and in this race we are blessed with one candidate who is a very attractive social conservative prodigal son and a liberal ally both of whom want the Republican nomination.
We are also stuck with an older brother whose main reason for running seems to be that he has run before and feels due.
Far from worrying about our prodigal Romney who has come home to social conservative values . . . I worry about him least on these issues.
Why? Romney has over time come to traditional points of view on culture of life and family issues. This is not surprising given his religious and social background. Romney is a man of profound faith (though it is not my own) and of deep and abiding traditional values in his personal life. As he has grown older, it is no surprise that a maturing statesman would bring his personal life into closer consistency with his political life.
Romney has the zeal of a new convert tempered by the pragmatic wisdom of one who knows the strengths and weaknesses of his old views.
Even on pragmatic grounds, the convert can be trusted more than the older member. He cannot afford to switch again without looking like a disaster and will work hard to keep his new allies.
The prodigal Romney has come back to his conservative roots having tried to eat the pig food of Harvard and the secular left. I am not going to be an older brother who sniffs when he is invited to the party. . . and if he is given the fatted calf of the nomination . . .well every analogy breaks down at some point!
His main foe for the nomination does not even pretend to agree with traditional religious folk. He is an ally in many ways . . . and a noble pagan. . . the guy who might have kept the prodigal safe when far from Father’s house, but not a member of the team.
Rudy is a great, though flawed man. He has a personal life that is beyond a mess . . . and that most Americans do not know about yet. When queried whether they will support a person with three (count-them) divorces, a big majority say “no.” Most Americans don’t know his views on gay marriage, abortion, or gun control, and these issues are as big as Iraq to Republican primary voters. If he gets the nomination, we can expect a prolonged investigation into finances that have in the past looked confusing at best.
I like Rudy . . . and admire him on many levels. I would love to see him as an attorney general chasing the Mob or Terrorists. He is a liberal of the old school . . . willing to work with conservatives for the good of the nation. We need more liberals like him, but he is a liberal and the Republican party is the conservative party in America.
Rudy is a friend of the conservative movement . . . and an ally, but he should not lead that movement. The Romans were finished when they picked Germans to lead them . . . and the Republicans do not need a friendly foe to head their cause.
Romney, the social conservative convert, has the friends, traditional back ground, and pragmatic political will needed to stick to his new found positions. He is also a highly skilled communicator without Rudy’s temper . . . and has been a successful governor of a blue state.
Conservatives may dream of the perfect candidate. I often ponder some person with the mind of Burke, the communication skills of Reagan, and the back bone of George W. Bush . . . but this man or woman does not exist so far as I know.
There is seldom room in a primary season for more than three viable candidates. Like it or not, the choice is Rudy, Romney, or the Retread. McCain is too tired to win . . . the Bob Dole of this race. It seems better at this point to trust the Prodigal Convert over the noble Ally.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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