Down the Ballot? Down the Toilet.

Rick “Tim Tebow” Santorum. It has to be said, and said now, to clear the record. I know, Rick Perry tried to capitalize on Tebowmania, and the young quarterback himself has shown remarkable dexterity in avoiding getting involved with politics, which is a good thing. Now that Rick Santorum has left the race, in retrospect, the comparisons are almost scary. The hard-line Christianity that, actually, upon closer examination, looks heartfelt and sincere. Then there’s unexplainable winning from behind when everyone had counted him out, despite awkward throwing, or in Santorum’s case, campaigning, mechanics. And of course, both met their demise in favor of a presumptive winner who has some serious flaws that may prove to be fatal by the beginning of next season. Oh, and Bill Maher hates them both.

Well now that the Tebowmania of the primary is over, Mitt “Peyton Manning” Romney had better have something up his sleeve. He has had a couple of good zingers during the debates, and he has been comparatively stable behind the podium, but that alone does not a good candidate make. (Write like Yoda, today, I shall) He had better hit the downfield passes, not just hand the ball off. He had better run the offense, not just adjust to the defense the media sends his way. For example, his response to the accusation that Romneycare is Obamacare’s ideological predecessor has been, so far, “You should have called me to see what worked and what didn’t”. I’ll say it for all of us: Governor Romney, that is not enough. “Why didn’t you call me and ask what worked” is not a rebuttal that sinks in with voters, its what you ask your neighbor when they buy the same grill as you did, and screw up setting it up. Don’t tell me how you would make socialism work, tell me how you would make it gone.

To be fair, which is totally unnecessary, Mitt has said he will repeal Obamacare. That is not enough, not in the light of what Rick Santorum has experienced. When I was helping to prep my station’s local morning show today, I came across an interesting video clip from November of last year. In the clip, Rick Santorum talks about the struggles and triumphs of dealing with a daughter who suffers from Trisomy-18. In one clip, the Grand Inquisitor of Catholic wing of the GOP erases everything  that has ever been said about him being a religious nut, and vindicates the image he tried to construct of a family man. It’s not a construct. Rick Santorum believes the family is the central and essential unit to the preservation of liberty. But there’s one moment, one joyous and tragic moment, where Rick Santorum talks about his daughter’s health care, that transformed my image of the man in a minute. The moment begins at 1:35 and goes to about 2:30.

I cannot tell you how much the line, “And then Mama Bear stood up” choked me up. Here is a doctor, telling a parent, that you have to come to grips with the imminent death of your child. To be fair to the doctor, they are required, far too often, to deliver such news. But to be fair to Karen Santorum, I am glad there are those out there that refuse to hear it. This is why Rick Santorum said “we cannot let them have this issue”. Imagine if the doctor, having the actuary tables on Trisomy-18 in front of him, was not allowed to prescribe the oxygen, and had to give the painkiller instead. Sound familiar?

This is why Rick Santorum was better prepared to take on Obama on the healthcare mandate debate. Let’s say he and his wife recieved Bella into the world after the full implementation of this law. What then? Are we to lay down and die when told, as the Secretary shall direct? Are we to let our children, precious and defenseless as they are, lay down and die, as the Secretary may direct? This was the crux of the Santorum campaign. Whether he got that message out or not was his responsibility, but nobody questioned whether he believed it. And what did the GOP have to say about Rick Santorum? Well, John McCain called Rick’s campaign “irrelevant”, and when John McCain says something about irrelevant, I trust him. He is the subject matter expert on irrelevant campaigns. (McCain’s quote here)

And Romney appears to not be too far behind. And this is the not-so-secret fear of the GOP Establismment. Santorum’s exit may prove a double-edged sword. It’s now Mitt’s show, and show he must. There is speculation that Romney was backed as a non-offensive candidate to try and prevent voters from souring to the possibility of a GOP President come 2016, and that Romney is the candidate who gives the party the most strength “down the ballot”, since Obama’s re-election is a fait accompli. This is actually the opposite of what has happened, though. The prevailing sense among the conservative and TEA Party rank-and-file is that Mitt Romney, as Santorum prophesied, is being shoved down our throats, and instead of bringing in independants, may drive away conservatives forever if he fails to win. The GOP might not be able to win with conservatives alone, so the thinking goes, but it will fail without them. And the GOP elite clung so hard to him during this primary season, they have effectively placed all their political chips on one space of the roulette wheel.

And now it is spinning fast. If the conventional wisdom around Romney being the Least Objectionable Loser (LOL) turns out to be true, the GOP has a bigger problem: They will appear to have forgotten how to win, or how to fight, and they may have spurned the spirit of the most powerful populist movement since The Progressives. Bad mistake, on both counts. The GOP, for all its bluster, seems to be capable of picking the perfect candidate for four years ago, every election cycle. McCain, being stong on national defense and moderate on economics, and, well, just about everything else, would have been perfect as a GOP candidate in 2004, if George W. Bush weren’t already on the ballot. Mitt Romney would have been better than McCain for 2008. About six months ago, we should have set the clocks at GOP headquarters ahead to 2016, and maybe we would have received an Alan West, or a Paul Ryan, or a Mitch Daniels, or a Rand Paul, and possibly a Ron Paul again (those people are dedicated).

But this game is different. Mitt is not the candidate who should give us the most in defeat. Instead, the voters are expecting him to win. That’s why they told us we should vote for him, wasn’t it? He has the greatest chance of beating Obama. GOP leaders have either underestimated how badly we want to win, or simply don’t care, at their own peril. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, as someone once said. This President has proven to us time and again what is down the ballot does not matter. When he had a majority in both houses, he blamed the Republicans. When he got shellacked in 2010, he set the House up as the villain, even though legislation to solve his problems is waiting there, along with his opportunity to “bury the old politics of the past”. He has demonized, publicly, the Supreme Court, for the possibility that it actually did its job! This is the real danger of the Least Objectionable Loser stratagem: If the GOP Etablishment backs a losing horse here, they may not get invited back to the track. For real American conservatives, the question is not what Romney can provide the party as a loser, but where should we go for a winner?

Joseph Kurt will bear the banner of conservatism, and he realizes now more than ever, it is for life. He has found his calling, and he is happy.

Rommunism! Dam-Mitt!

There are more Republican primaries today. I’m not exasperated, nor am I disappointed. I’m just surprised at how fast this is going by. Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia will give their input as to who will be the nominee. Odds are we will ultimately wind up with Mitt Romney. As a Constitutional Conservative, I don’t like the way that sounds any more than I like being told I am not a “real” conservative by Ron Paul supporters. I don’t like it any more than I like being told I am not a “real” Christian by liberals because Jesus was clearly in favor of social justice. But here’s what I do like: Mitt Romney reciting the Oath of Office next year at his inauguration, when compared to Barack Obama’s second term.

Since I couldn’t find the reference, I will have to go on faith on this one, and I apologize for any inaccuracy. I do not mean to impugn Mitt Romney with this, but I cannot remember to whom this observation should be credited, but I believe it was George Will. Mitt Romney, he said, will have to be moved to the right by force. Not violence, but the force of the popular voice of the right. I concur, since I firmly believe Mitt Romney’s campaign is shaped by the victory of 2010 as much as it is the defeat of 2008. The Republican Establishment, who swears they don’t exist, was broadsided by the “Tea Party Revolution”  in 2010. They are paralyzed with fear that Rick Santorum might win the nomination, since he is a zealot. They fear Ron Paul, since he is a hard-line ideologue, and will cost them much of their “hard earned” power. And they fear Newt Gingrich, since he knows where their bones are buried, and they might not have leverage in the Oval Office with him behind the Resolute desk. So it’s to be Romney, and we Tea Party types will have to drag him to the right, as if we were a team of horses harnessed to pull a deeply-rooted stump out of the ground. So be it.

I can’t see this as an impossible challenge. I’m sorry, I know I should be a little more openly wary of Mitt Romney, and I have. (You can listen to my criticism here) Conservatives, however, are not just trying to pull a single candidate to the right, it is our life’s mission to pull an entire electorate to the right. Compared to that Sisyphean effort, pulling Romney to the right seems like no big deal. The current President, by the way, would have to move dramatically to the right to be classified as a liberal! The Romney pull team, thank God, would ideally not have to be focused on economics, right? A rich capitalist with a “couple of Cadillacs” in the driveway should be as capitalist as any of us, right? No, he’s not. I said I didn’t see pulling Mitt Romney to the right would not be impossible, but I am not so stupid as to believe it will be easy.

So I have my harness on, and I am ready to let the pulling begin. First up, it’s the flip-flops, and they are legion. I could never encompass them as well as an incredibly damning number of videos, compilations, and ads have, so check this out:

Damn it.

I mean, my God. Maybe this will be harder than I thought. But just when I want to give up hope that there is a rightward streak anywhere under Mitt Romney’s coif, along comes the liberal media. Yes, you read that right. Here is what TIME’s Joe Klein had to say about Mitt Romney flips and flops on social issues:

“He was probably far more conservative on social issues like abortion and gay marriage that he professed to be when he ran for U.S. Senator and then Governor in Massachusetts. Stories in both the New York Times and Washington Post this year have revealed that Romney took his role as a Mormon Bishop and President (the ultimate Mormon authority in the Boston area) very seriously–and that he tried to enforce the laws of his church on abortion, homosexuality and premarital sex firmly, although humanely. His flip back toward social conservatism when he decided to run for President was probably a move toward his natural predilections.”

Whew. That was close. Oh, there’s more? The next paragraph of the same article?”

“And he is probably more moderate on policy issues than he’s been pretending to be as a Republican presidential candidate in the past two campaigns. He is a product of the empowerment Republicanism of the 1990s, as is Gingrich–an attempt to achieve progressive ends through conservative means. Hence, his support for an individual mandate universal health care system, which would use a private market to lower the cost of health insurance–an idea that was developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Hence, his support for a cap-and-trade program to limit carbon emissions–an idea that George H.W. Bush included in the Clean Air Act of 1990, to (successfully) control Acid Rain. The radical turn of the Republican party has forced Romney to move right on those and a myriad of other issues.”

Damn it.

So here’s the hope: We are seeing, now, the real Mitt. Here’s the fear: In a few months, the polls will shake the etch-a-sketch. Somewhere, deep inside Mitt Romney, is a family man of character. We just don’t know if we are seeing that man, or the suit that man puts on. There’s something I do like about Mitt Romney, though, something I see in him that gives me a little more than just casual hope. It’s around the eyes when he is doing his Ken Doll act while trying not to get angry at the debates or the other candidates. It stems from an instinct that drives a man to success in  a (comparatively) free-market economy, a corporate CEO, or a talented athlete. Somewhere in that perfect exterior, there is a Mitt Romney who hates to lose. Call it a fear of not surpassing his father, call it a lust for power, or call it whatever you will. For every ounce of arrogance that Barack Obama has for thinking that he can’t lose, or conceit he has that he shouldn’t lose, Mitt Romney has a pound of resolve that he has to win. He feels this way because he knows he will never get this close to the office again. This is probably Romney’ s last ride. It angers me that he seems to move with the shifting winds of the polls, of course. And on some innate level, and maybe it’s the level where most politicians disappoint me in some fashion by not living up to their billing, I can see why Romney has done so much, well, let’s just call it “triangulating”. I get it, but I don’t like it, either.

I also keep forgetting the Proglodytes (Progressive + Troglodytes = Proglodytes) “know” they are going to run against this guy. So how do we do a Lazarus on Mitt Romney’s conservative streak? Many would argue that we already have, compared to his term as governer and his campaign for Senate in 1994 against Ted Kennedy. It’s possible, but if that is the case, I do not believe the reversion is permanent. What the hell do we do now? The answer is a little more complex than I want, and maybe a little too late. I want to say that we should vote for Rick or Newt, as we did here in South Carolina, and if that is what you believe, you should. But I think many in our party have fallen for the spell that Mitt Romney looks and sounds like the President out of central casting, and if an electorate is so uninformed as to annoint a novice with the highest political office in the world, then they believe we have to aim beyond “simple party politics”. The recipe is easy enough, give the electorate someone not too far off of their ideological spectrum, and make sure he looks good in a suit. Mitt looks like he was cooked up in a lab somewhere in the Hamptons, so he fits a lot of bills. So what do we do if he wins?

The same thing we do if he loses. We pretend the Romney administration is as bad as the Obama administration, and we unite the way we did during the last four years. Make them prove to us they are different, and don’t let off the gas. The Tea Party rallies continue. The 9/12 groups continue to meet and get results. We continue to publish social media and blogs (You’re welcome). We keep doing excellent radio shows (You’re welcome). Make no bones about it, President Romney needs the Tea Party more than he knows. This fire cannot be quenched by a moderate administration, or we will have taught the GOP the lesson we taught them with George H.W. Bush, and Gerald Ford, and they will place a permanent embargo on the names and ideals of Reagan and Goldwater from future elections in perpetuum. We are in a race to change the future of the country, and to my fellow conservatives, I implore you, do not let the status quo reign over us because we changed the letter in parentheses after the President’s name. If we do that, we might just save Mitt Romney as a President, and the United States as a nation. The stakes are that high, at least.

Damn it.

Joseph Kurt is the Unceremonious Master of Ceremonies, and the host of The Joseph Kurt Show Saturdays at 6pm on NewsRadio 94.3WSC FM, in the Holy City of Charleston, S.C. (Show archives here) He is also the host of the Charleston Tea Party Podcast. He will never, ever give in, not one inch, for this is a matter of honor. Twitter: @JosephKurt1