"Moderate" is a bad word to many in the conservative movement. So, apparently, is "rational". I can't help but notice the increasing incoherence.
But here’s my question: Back in 2008, the social-cons were all-in for Romney, to the point where Hugh Hewitt’s take became a running tagline (“You know who this is good for? Mitt Romney!”) that’s still used by by bloggers from time to time. Now, not so much. So what changed about Romney since 2008 to make him un-conservative?
The answer, of course, is McCain, which hearkens back to the incoherence and irrationality of 2008. It still amazes me that so many conservatives do not believe that McCain is a conservative, despite all the evidence. Throw a word out like "immigration" or a phrase like "worked with Ted Kennedy" or "opposed waterboarding" and emotions block out thought.
On the economy, Tyler Cowen asks a similar question: Why doesn't the right-wing favor a looser monetary policy? By disfavoring it, the conservative movement puts itself into a smaller box when it comes to prescriptions. We can't solve our structurally imbalanced deficits just by restraining spending. Increasing tax rates is verboten, and even raising revenues via other avenues is frowned upon. What's left is not the fiscal conservatism that I know.
On Iran, the conservative movement puts itself in a similarly small box. The candidates all say, including Obama and excepting Paul, that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but if that's true, if Iran brings itself to the cusp of having that capability, what are the options if "unacceptable" is the policy? We're pretty much stuck with military strikes or a blockade. Is that really a sensible approach? To me, no. Here's what we know so far, courtesy of the DNI and DIA:
In other words, according to the heads of the IC and DIA: (1) against all odds, the supposedly “mad Mullahs” of Tehran are endowed with the capacity for rational human thought, and thus there might be diplomatic or economic inducements that could compel an agreement on outstanding questions regarding the nuclear program; (2) the United States has at least a year; (3) Iran is not looking to start a war with the United States; and (4) Israel has not yet decided to undertake a preemptive war with Iran.
So, despite characterizations that the Mullahs are basically insane, they are affected by outside influences and can make reasonable decisions. Another unspoken deterrent is the likelihood of KSA getting a nuke if Iran gets one. MAD lives on.
One other thing. The economy is improving, so comments that Obama is ruining the economy will increasingly fall flat. It's no secret that the situation was bad to horrible when he took office, and it is more and more obvious that the worst is behind us. It's not much, but Obama can run on that. The conservative movement is going to need a different message on the economy, hopefully one that makes sense, but I'm not bullish. Back in 2004, the liberal sentiment was ABB, anyone but Bush. You all know where that took you. This time around, I predict that ABB (Anyone But Barry) will be similarly unsuccessful.
UPDATE: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts numbers to the dissonance.
The national debt is likely to balloon under tax policies championed by three of the four major Republican candidates for president, according to an independent analysis of tax and spending proposals so far offered by the candidates.
The lone exception is Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who would pair a big reduction in tax rates with even bigger cuts in government services, slicing about $2 trillion from future borrowing.
According to the report — set for release Thursday by U.S. Budget Watch, a project of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich would do the most damage to the nation’s finances, offering tax and spending policies likely to require trillions of dollars in fresh borrowing.
Both men have proposed to sharply cut taxes but have not identified spending cuts sufficient to make up for the lost cash, the report said. By 2021, the debt would rise by about $4.5 trillion under Santorum’s policies and by about $7 trillion under those advocated by Gingrich, pushing the portion of the debt held by outside investors to well over 100 percent of the nation’s economy.
The red ink would gush less heavily under former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the report said — at least under earlier Romney proposals that paired $1.35 trillion in tax cuts with $1.2 trillion in spending reductions and would leave the debt rising on a trajectory that closely tracks current policies.
So the Romney plan is more fiscally conservative than the others (except for the crackpot's), but it isn't fiscally conservative. This is a main problem with the movement today. "Fiscal" has been removed from the lexicon.