Barrett: Quashing key source of GOP enthusiasm an iffy approach

Barrett: Quashing key source of GOP enthusiasm an iffy approach

January 15th, 2012 by Steve Barrett in Opinion Columns

I get it, I get it: Some people think Mitterrand Carrington Lavoix de Champlain Romney XIV is more electable than anybody else in the Republican field. Really and for true, I understand. I hear you.

I just think you're wrong.

Passion-driven turnout is going to matter in November. But passion infrequently comes to mind when one contemplates Romney -- an exercise that lasts only fleeting moments before restful slumber sets in. Sorta like the inevitable drowsiness associated with the words "Meredith Vieira" or "Big & Rich."

The passion on the Republican side is concentrated in the tea party, not in the establishment. And Monsieur Romney is the most Bob Dolesque GOP establishment candidate since, I suppose, Bob Dole. I know some heavy-hitting conservatives will cite chapter and verse in Romney's record to suggest he's the man to beat Obama. But they're perilously glossing over his Kerryite flip-flops, and they're utterly ignoring the crucial gut check test. (Take it from one who has ample gut to check.)

Listen -- if you can stand it -- to Romney's scripted blather at any given forum. Marvel at his inability to articulate an extemporaneous thought in his alternately clumsy and wooden debate performances. Stew in his novella-length, 59-point economic plan -- just not while operating heavy machinery.

Everything about his style, and too many things about his substance, screams mealy-mouthed placeholder and electoral flatliner. Little wonder the media adore him.

A Romney candidacy would drizzle liquid nitrogen on the enthusiasm of the very voters who would otherwise be most revved up to buy Obama a subsidized, one-way Chevy Volt ride to Chicago. Getting them to turn out in the gaggles necessary to put Romney in the White House is going to be like convincing a hungry teenager that he really wants almond-crusted squab on baby field greens instead of that cheeseburger he's eyeing.

No, tea partiers aren't going to quaff the Kool-Aid and vote for the incumbent. But if Romney is the alternative, it will demoralize a lot of potentially highly motivated voters.

Game, set, second term: Obama.

Selective skepticism

It's funny how syndicates that circulate opinion columns from various organizations often attach cynical warning labels to the columns.

A recent ObamaCare-related piece from the Galen Institute offered this tag: "Puppy hater Grace-Marie Turner is president and founder of the Galen Institute, which is funded in part by the pharmaceutical and medical industries. ..."

OK, the puppy part I made up, but the ominous filigree about her group's backing is real.

And consider a column criticizing federal mortgage bailout efforts -- you know, the schemes that have done such a nifty job resuscitating the housing market. The attached disclaimer was slightly less pointed but still conveyed the take-this-with-a-salt-lick sentiment: "David C. John is the senior research fellow in retirement security and financial institutions at The Heritage Foundation. ... Information about Heritage's funding of baby seal hunts may be found at"

Yeah, the baby seal portion is bogus, but the rest is legit.

The not-so-subtle implication of these warnings is that readers should disregard the facts presented and the conclusions drawn by the authors, and should suspect -- if not assume -- that the writers are fibbing on behalf of their well-heeled benefactors.

I guess that would be OK if it were more evenhanded.

But no such skepticism is in evidence when, say, a big-spending member of Congress or some trifling professor at a public university showers the wisdom of the ages on us via syndicated column.

It isn't deemed relevant -- much less cause for an explicit warning -- that the lawmaker may be advocating measures that could boost his fortune at taxpayer expense. Neither is the professor's reliance on government largesse seen as any reason to alert readers that he might have a personal stake in arguing for, say, more federal research funds. They're in "public service," doncha know. Their motives must be purer than those of the mere private-sector mortals who pay their salaries.

I'd like to read, just once, this warning on some syndicated slab of big-government drivel: "For information on Rep. Ripoff's and Professor Piddle's funding, see the $15.2 trillion national debt -- of which your share, gentle taxpayer, is a cool $135,000. Have a nice day."