Friday, December 28, 2007

The Rabbit Is Fading

At least two newspaper editorial boards REALLY do not like Mitt Romney.

The Concord (NH) Monitor:

The Concord Monitor broke with political tradition Sunday, telling readers in the state with the first presidential primary why they should not vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney instead of whom they should support.

In a scathing anti-endorsement that called Romney a "disquieting figure," the New Hampshire newspaper's editorial board said he looks and acts like a presidential contender but "surely must be stopped" because he lacks the core philosophical beliefs to be a trustworthy president.

In particular, the newspaper noted the former Massachusetts governor's change of heart on such issues as abortion rights, stem-cell research and access to emergency
contraception, as well as on signing an anti-tax pledge.

"When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it," the newspaper said. "Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no."

Leaving aside (with an effort) the absurd notion of independents voting in a Republican (or Democrat) primary, it appears the Monitor is definitely using the standard anti-Mitt "Johnny-come-lately" meme, questioning the "convenience" of his recent Damascus Road-like conversion to conservatism. It also appears that the Monitor fears a Romney victory in New Hampshire (he still has a mid-single-digits lead with under two weeks to go) and is desperate to stomp on his fingers to keep him from hanging on.

Why would the Monitor be so eager to shiv Governor Romney? Well, look at the candidate who has closed to within striking distance: John f'ing McCain, the personification of the political zombie, the man who killed his own campaign last summer with his quixotic, arrogant, obnoxious tilt at the immigration amnesty windmill and now, somehow, is rising in the polls again, and the "maverick" whose torrid love affair with the Enemy Media I guarantee isn't dormant, either. A fact that the Romneylans were quick to point out.

But if the Concord Monitor is just another lib rag, that cannot be said of the other Granite State paper that pissed in Romney's face this week:
Mitt Romney has gotten stung by another so-called "anti-endosement" - a New Hampshire newspaper, the statewide Manchester Union Leader, is calling upon voters to pass on the former Massacusetts governor. Following on the heels of a similar Concord Monitor blast over the weekend, the editorial cites:

"There is a reason Mitt Romney has not received a single newspaper endorsement in New Hampshire. It's the same reason his poll numbers are dropping. He has not been able to convince the people of this state that he's the conservative he says he is.
Like a lot of people in New Hampshire, we wanted to believe Romney. We gave him the benefit of the doubt. We listened very carefully to his expertly rehearsed sales pitch. But in the end he didn't close the deal for us.
My goodness, Hugh Hewitt must be experiencing an overpowering need to jog a few hundred extra miles a day just to sweat out the stress - though, of course, his blog will never show it. And that's before you figure in his guy's six point deficit in Iowa, whose caucuses are only six days away.

Anybody who has followed my admittedly intermittent comments on the GOP primaries over the course of this year know that Mitt Romney's slow fade is no surprise to me. He put all his emphasis on the two earliest states, zoomed out to big leads, and put himself in the classic position of having nowhere to go but down. What does surprise me is which candidates are catching and passing him. Mike Huckabee in Iowa? John McCain in New Hampshire? If the concern of Republican voters and center-right publications like the Manchester Union-Leader is
the alleged ersatzness of the Mittster's conservatism, how can they be turning to two of the least conservative Pachyderms in the race? C'mon, Huck's reaction to the Benizir Bhutto assassination was to apologize for it as though he were channelling Bill Clinton. And McCain? Sheep dip, you can't trust him as far as you can throw him, other than to be what he's been for the past decade: an untrustworthy, backstabbing media whore whose popularity with the Fourth Estate springs precisely from his delight in shafting his own party on issue after issue of crucial importance to the GOP base.

That, of course, makes McCain inherently vulnerable to ads pointing out these facts, and to his credit, Romney isn't wasting any time in laying down suppression fire:

Yeah, there's a difference, alright: one is ashamed of his RINO background, and one is damned proud of it.

Meanwhile, the only comprehensive and credible conservative in the race, the closest Republican candidate to the mantle of Ronald Reagan, is going nowhere.

The spectre of President Rodham looks more and more predestined all the time, doesn't it?

UPDATE: The Admiral generally concurs, and adds the very salient point that while McCain may have an impressive knowledge of national security issues, he has zero, zip, utterly and absolutely no executive experience with them. Of course, neither does Romney, Huckabee, Giuliani, or my man Fred; that's the sort of experience you can only get "on the job," which gets back to character, which gets back to why Fred Thompson is head & shoulders above the rest of the GOP field.