The great irony is that it was Tea Party conservatives – running on a platform of limited government, low taxes and balanced budgets – who propelled the GOP to make historic gains in the 2010 election. Yet the two leading candidates for the movement’s presidential nomination come from the establishment. The right is understandably demoralized.
His rhetoric notwithstanding, Mr. Gingrich is not an insurgent. In fact, he is less electable and less conservative than Mr. Romney. The former House speaker’s record is littered with betrayals on a wide range of issues – he supports massive ethanol subsidies, something even Al Gore concedes is a clean-energy boondoggle; he championed a health care individual mandate for more than a decade, including publicly praising Romneycare in 2006; he backed caps on carbon emissions and demanded government action to combat climate change, including filming a TV ad with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; he voted to create the Department of Education; he believes in some form of amnesty; he took $1.6 million from Freddie Mac; and he wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars in massive projects, such as building a space colony on the moon, establishing a huge power-grid corridor across the Northeast and modernizing ports in Charleston. S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla. In short, Mr. Gingrich is a big-government corporatist masquerading as a conservative populist.
Mr. Romney has serious weaknesses. He is certainly not a Reagan nationalist – my kind of Republican. But he has several indispensable qualities: He can beat Mr. Obama. He can stop America’s decline into a second-rate power. He can reverse our slide toward socialism and economic ruin. He can turn around the bankrupt corporation that is America. “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” wrote the French philosopher Voltaire. Mr. Romney is far from perfect. He is, however, good enough. He is not the second coming of John McCain. He can win in November. For that alone, he deserves conservative support.