The EFM Feature

The question David posed in his last post — “Why Do People Think Perry is More Conservative than Mitt?” — means something precisely because David himself is about as consistently and thoroughly conservative as anyone I’ve ever met.  He’s also a principled and clear-sighted thinker.  If a person as conservative and eagle-eyed as David French can love Mitt Romney, then other conservatives will too when they get past the misperceptions.

As David points out, both Romney and Perry have gone through less-conservative phases in the past (Perry actually campaigned for Al Gore, for goodness’ sake).  That’s all right.  I’d rather see a movement from less conservative to more, than from more to less.  While Perry may seem more conservative on social security, Romney is more conservative on immigration.  Both have drawn conservative fire for their health care decisions.  But in terms of where they stand now, it’s not at all clear that Romney is less conservative than Rick Perry.  So why the perception?

1.  When conservative writers frame Romney as the establishment candidate and Perry as the hard-core conservative one, they’re doing so in collusion with the liberal mainstream media.  Yet they might want to think twice about agreeing with the MSM on this point.  When the MSM says that Perry is the more conservative candidate, they really mean that he’s more extreme, more scary, and more probably nuts.  They mean that Perry is less refined and sophisticated, and more alien to them, more inclined to ten-gallon hats and packing heat, to folksy phrases and the hatred of women and science.  In the imagination of the mainstream press, if you are more sophisticated then you must be more moderate, and if you are a rough-hewn Texan then you probably engage in militia exercises with people named Bubba and Billy-Bob.

This is insulting to Perry, Romney and the intelligence of the American voter.  Perry’s kind of cultural otherness, compared to the beltway literati, does not make him any more likely than Romney to promote sound conservative policies.  And Romney is the living demonstration that thoroughgoing conservatism is indeed found among men with seasoned and powerful intellects.  But it’s easier to assume that the impressive Bostonian (among other places he’s lived) is a moderate — and the swaggering Texan is the real rock-ribbed conservative — than it is to acknowledge that one can be truly conservative and highly intelligent at the same time.

2.  The attitudes of mainstream media liberals have brought about a curious sort of echo amongst Tea Party conservatives, who tend to see those the MSM mocks as “their” people worthy of defending at all costs.  When the mainstream media scorns and belittles people like Perry — southerners or rurals, with a swagger and a drawl, old-fashioned views on evolution and creation, an overt and often overtly political Christian faith — then many social conservatives really hear the mainstream media scorning and belittling their friends and family, their fellow church members, their teachers and preachers.  I’m afraid sometimes that conservatives, especially Tea Party conservatives who have endured so much slander and abuse, defend a candidate as “theirs” all the stronger the more he’s mocked and ridiculed by the media.

Just because the Left hates him does not mean we have to love him.  Just because he causes the veins in their heads to explode, does not mean that he’s the guy.

Supporting Rick Perry is one way for middle America to lift a big, white, hairy middle finger in the faces of the cultural elites.  If they say that the Rick Perrys of the world are racist, backward, ignorant troglodytes, then we’ll defend him come hell or high water and we’ll even subject the haters to a Rick Perry presidency.  One gets the impression that Mitt Romney could attend a dinner with New York liberals and have the grace and decency and savvy to get along with them.  Romney is redolent of the Northeast; can anything conservative come from Boston?  But that’s not what a substantial portion of the American electorate wants right now.  They want a two-fisted political brawler who offends and sneers at and stomps upon the liberal opposition.  They want someone who will take out their anger vicariously upon the establishment.  Sending Perry to Washington would be like sending a battleship straight into the culture war’s most contested waters.  He takes all the punishment, and he returns fire with gusto, but that doesn’t mean he’d be a better President.

Perry is like Palin and Bachmann and Angle and Haley insofar as he’s a magnet for the hatred and scorn of the high priests of the Left — and thus the affection of some on the Right.  What makes him different is that he could actually win the Oval Office.  Fun though it is to witness the apoplexy of conservatism’s cultured despisers, however, this does not make Perry more conservative than Romney and it certainly does not make him more capable of defeating Barack Obama.

We need to be laser-focused on two questions right now.  Who can win the election?  And who will make the best President?  To my mind, Romney is the obvious answer to both questions.  In fact, I think we’re extraordinarily fortunate to have a candidate with his unique set of skills and experiences at precisely the time when we need to accomplish the most dramatic turnaround this country has seen in generations.

Comments and Discussion

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23 Responses to Perry’s a Battleship, But Would He Be a Better President than Romney?

  1. Stephen says:

    If Perry is a Battleship, then Mitt is a ballistic submarine. While battleship could take out a harbor if no one has advanced technology to stop it; a ballistic submarine can reshape a whole country. Mitt is always cool, his thoughts and discussions are deep; and even though you might not know exactly where he is, you know he can take anything they throw at him, since they will miss most all the time. Finally is attacks are biased on precision hits, not wild swings.

  2. Susan says:

    I would guess that with Perry in the White House….nothing much will change except the dialogue….fringe left and fringe right is still fringe.

  3. Dane McBride says:

    Best analysis I’ve seen of the puzzling assumption that Mitt is a “moderate”, and Perry a “conservative”. It’s a matter of style and class. Very perceptive of you to see that the MSM likes to identify the individual of a coarser style as the “conservative”. So when they attack that person’s coarseness, the Right Wing Media comes to his defense and unwittingly reinforces the MSM’s derisive characterization of conservatives! This MSM-RWM reflex conspiracy is a hard thing to overcome. I hope the conservative electorate will come to understand this unfortunate misrepresentation. As the debates go forward, and as folks get to better know the real deal about these two candidates, I think good people will see the real picture.

  4. Hilarious says:

    You guys are hilarious. You write as if there is an “evangelical” church, but there isn’t. There is a whole range of conservative churches covering a lot of social, economic, and political territory. A conservative black evangelical church is going to be almost completely at odds with a conservative charismatic evangelical church or a conservative Church of Christ evangelical church. What you’ve got going here is an obvious attempt to blur the distinctions between the various evangelical churches to the point where you can fit the Mormons in, like you try to fit in the Catholics–and even in one place the Jews. Good luck!

    What you should be fighting for is complete separation of religion from politics–but then you would not have your church funded lobbying groups there to support conservative politicians. Until you make that leap, you’re not going to be getting a Mormon elected President any more than you are an atheist or a Muslim.

  5. MikeH says:

    Hilarious, you are Hilarious! You write as if the Liberal Media doesn’t try and brand all religious followers as weird. They don’t care about our various faith’s, because we are all stupid in their eyes.

  6. gramajane says:

    @ Hilarious,
    It seems while you appear to denounce rolling all evangelical churches so different that they are unable to vote with their heads,
    Then it appears in your closing that you can’t see any difference between Muslims and Jews, much less then that Mormons ARE as different as Harry Reid and Mitt ?
    To me your take is not only hilarious it is incredible!

  7. Timothy Dalrymple says:

    Stephen, I like the analogy!

    Susan, I actually think a lot would change. Perry would be an improvement over Obama, because he promotes the right (conservative) approach toward government and its roles in our lives. But saying that he’d be an improvement over Obama is, well, not saying much.

    Dane, thank you! Exactly right. It’s nice to be understood.

    Hilarious, I wasn’t really writing about evangelicals in this post. And this site is for evangelicals of all stripes who support Mitt. It’s certainly no news to me, and will not be news to anyone behind this site, that evangelicalism is a differentiated and multifaceted thing. We aren’t trying to blur distinctions, but we are attempting to reach out to evangelicals in various forms. And, actually, conservative black evangelical churches (which are, by the way, mainly charismatic) have a great deal in common with conservative white charismatic evangelical churches. They may differ on some social justice issues, but they have an awful lot more on which they agree.

  8. LBRussell says:

    I’m glad you all are addressing this ’cause it really gets on my nerves–why Mitt Romney is not considered conservative especially in comparison with other candidates. One issue I’d like to see someone there respond to is the charge that Romney is touting his ability to work with Democrats–both Rush LImbaugh and Mark Steyn, both of whom I like and admire, have made much of this in recent months–Rush just now on his program which prompts my request. Is Mitt bringing up his ability to “work with Democrats” in the campaign? The only example I know of is a response to a question from a more moderate woman in some New Hampshire event–she went on about rancor between the parties and can’t we just all get along, etc and Mitt replied that you could work with other people without compromising your principles — aomething totally unremarkable — and apparently that lead to a Los Angeles times story that lead to Mark Steyn posting on the Corner and it went on from there. Have there been examples of Romney presenting this as a strength that I’ve been missing?

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  10. Liz says:

    My problem with Perry is that he has the faint odor of corruption emanating from his general direction. The Merck thing. That’s the last thing we need more of in D.C. His heavy handed mandate by executive order also goes against the very core of a true conservative. Keep on vetting.

  11. Twolfgcd says:

    The way the MSM attacks and mocks Perry makes me wonder, “Why would they do that?” Could it be because they actually fear an election against Rick Perry more than they fear an election against Mitt? The MSM doesn’t do much of anything without an ulterior motive (in my humble opinion), and they “sure as shootin’” (Texas-ese there!) won’t do anything to help a Republican who they fear get elected. They’ll belittle and mock him and be less intolerant of a candidate they aren’t as afraid of.

    • Timothy Dalrymple says:

      I understand that instinct, but I don’t think it’s reliable as a general principle. I don’t know whether anyone today believes that Sarah Palin could win the general election, but she still arouses a great deal of scorn and vituperation. Perry, like Palin, is the very embodiment of everything liberal elites have learned to despise. He causes a visceral response in them in a way that Romney does not — and I think this is part of what Tea Party conservatives enjoy about him. Not the only thing, mind you. But a part.

  12. John Haas says:

    While I agree with much of what you say, on evolution, global warming and social security, Perry is well to the right of Romney.

  13. Leon Goodman says:

    Since this is not a politically correct debate, let’s assume we can ask the candidates questions.
    Mister Perry, does separation of Church and state mean that religious minorities will be protected when their rights infringed on? If you were president, what would you do if a lawman removed all the children and pregnant mothers from a town and confined them to a sports arena and broke up the family groups to live with other faiths? Would you step in as soon as you were aware of the problem or wait months for an appellate court to return nursing infants to their mothers?
    And you, Governor, your State mansion was firebombed and you blamed Mormons. Why was that? Did you ever catch the bomber, or would you just cart all the children that lived in town off in Baptist Sunday School buses?
    Texans tell jokes about their leaders. “Is the governor ever really in charge in Texas. If not, why not?”
    Questions of conservatism are trite in comparison to the constitutional abuses he has perpetrated on the citizens.

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  16. Stan says:

    Let’s be careful and not jump to conclusions in which the MSM is hoping we will do. We need to use our heads and realize that most people can be swayed by emotion and yes I’m one of them. We need a fiscal disciplinarian, as mentioned by Rev. Schenck, and that person is Mitt Romney. At this time we need someone that can turn things around, we can’t be guessing what will work and what won’t, we need that confidence and discipline that Romney has to offer. I may be bias in wanting Mitt Romney but it is because I’ve done my own homework and cannot see anyone else to bring back America.

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