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Thursday, February 7, 2008
Romney Out, No Leader Left in the Race (and Other Post-Super Tuesday Musings)

Romney out. West Virginia Republicans. The presumptive McNominee. The anti-Hillary vote. State of the Union, stimulus, and compassion.

Now that the Super Tuesday dust has mostly settled, and we actually have some pretty good delegate numbers from states where they are awarded proportionally or by congressional district, I was about to post some notes on Super Tuesday's results and possible aftermath. Now I hear ABC News reporting that Mitt Romney will drop out of the race today, which trumps most of my notes.

Romney Out

It's not for me to say that a candidate should stay in a race he or she is unlikely to win, at the cost of millions and millions of dollars. But I regret his departure in this sense: The only two real, proven leaders in the race in either party were Romney and Rudy Giuliani; Giuliani dropped out (very sensibly) after a dismal showing in Florida.

Super Tuesday had some victories and some disappointments for Romney, but the real shellacking was in California, where, because of the way delegates are allocated, Romney got three delegates, and McCain got 146. In the popular vote in California, Romney's 34 percent trailed McCain's 42 percent only slightly, but Romney apparently won only one congressional district in the process -- hence the three delegates. That is not encouraging, especially after polls just before Super Tuesday suggested that Romney might actually win California.

Romney's graceful departure at this point may keep him from burning a few bridges with the Republican Party, in case he wants to run in 2012 or 2016 -- not that the Republican establishment likes him much at the moment. By avoiding a possible convention fight, it may make Mike Huckabee less inevitable as a vice presidential candidate, which is a very good thing. I suppose it's possible that Romney could now make a short list for McCain's running mate, if McCain is desperate and thinks such a move essential to a win in November. And, as these things usually go, it should secure a good speaking slot for Romney at the Republican convention.

West Virginia Republicans

Some are up in arms about the convention voting in West Virginia, where Romney led by a large margin on the first ballot, but did not have a majority, so there was another ballot. The McCain campaign apparently directed its state delegates to vote for Mike Huckabee on the second ballot, which gave Huckabee a majority, a victory, and all of West Virginia's delegates, thus denying Romney the victory. Though disappointed, I myself am not distressed by this; that's politics, and we may see the same sort of thing at a national convention someday soon (on the Democratic side, if at all this year). That's how the game works.

The Presumptive McNominee

I recently wrote that McCain is no conservative, and that he's scarcely even a Republican. I can probably bring myself to vote for him, if only because he's the only credible candidate who doesn't say we should surrender in a war we have to win -- and actually are winning. It's entirely possible that a Democratic president, finally facing reality, wouldn't surrender, either. But in the meantime the rhetoric and the anticipation would probably encourage the enemy.

I think McCain will be bad for the country in other ways -- not as bad as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama -- and very bad for the future of the Republican Party, but that's not because I have a crystal ball. It's because I think that's how things stack up now, with those three in the US Senate.

I'm not sure McCain can beat Obama, especially if his running mate is Huckabee. I think he'd stand a decent chance of beating Clinton. That said, Hillary Clinton is in trouble. She'll likely lose all or most of the next eight primaries; the "inevitable" nominee is not looking so inevitable now.

For more post-Super Tuesday analysis, see Edward Morrissey on the Republicans and the Democrats; thanks to alert reader Jon Rodeback for these links. See also Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen at Politico.com on Hillary's little problem (delegates, I mean, not her ex-president).

The Anti-Hillary Vote

I know some Republicans in Utah who voted for Barack Obama in the Utah Democratic primary because (a) they already knew who would win on the Republican side, and (b) they really want to stop Hillary Clinton. My observations are anecdotal, not scientific, but I wonder how many people feel that way nationwide. And I wonder how many conservatives will really stay home instead of voting for John McCain, who has serially betrayed the very conservatives he now needs to woo.

State of the Union, Stimulus, and Compassion

In other notes, there was a presidential State of the Union address the other Monday; I haven't had time to care. Maybe I'll read it later. I have heard -- not that I could avoid it -- that President Bush and Congress want to send us all some money to help the economy. I want to ask my fellow Americans, Where do you think the money will come from? The answer, of course, is our pockets, in the form of taxes. So how does this help the economy? How does it help the country?

It helps the politicians only because it makes them look generous and compassionate, but that's only because we are so unbelievably gullible. We think that they are generous when they take our money and give some of it back. Or, perhaps more realistically, we each count on getting someone else's tax money, on the redistributionist/class warfare principle. (In that case, we'll probably eventually get what we deserve . . . and it won't be good, because what do greedy morons deserve, after all?)

As I wrote in a comment a while back at mullentown:

If you want to see compassion, you have to stop looking for it in institutions and start looking for it in individual humans. I know lots of compassionate people; I don’t think there’s a shortage.

To me it seems an inferior compassion, if it is compassion at all, to be generous with (tax) money taken from others with the threat of imprisonment. Sorry. I guess that’s why I’m a conservative.

Final Thought

Whatever else we may say about the 2008 presidential election cycle, it's certainly interesting on both sides of the aisle.

David Rodeback comments (1/7/08):

Mitt Romney made his announcement in this excellent speech to CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Committee. Here's the meat of the matter:

We are a nation at war.

And Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the war on terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child's play. About this, I have no doubt.

I disagree with Senator McCain on a number of issues, as you know. But I agree with him on doing whatever it takes to be successful in Iraq, on finding and executing Osama bin Laden, and on eliminating Al Qaeda and terror. If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.

This is not an easy decision for me. I hate to lose. My family, my friends and our supporters... many of you right here in this room... have given a great deal to get me where I have a shot at becoming President. If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.

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