I think that some of conservatives’ malaise about Romney stems from the fact that, although Romney is indeed a Galtian, he’s technocrat, not a baller shot-caller. He didn’t build railroads out of Reardon steel or hire Pinkertons to shoot striking workers, he just pushed paper around. Worse still it’s hard to hear him rocking out to Lee Greenwood or convincingly claiming that he thinks freedom is God’s gift to the world. Bobo today:
In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move.
Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days. We disdain elitism, political experience and explicit God-talk. Great failure is considered “baggage” in today’s campaign lingo.
Today’s candidates have to invent bogus story lines to explain their qualifications to be president — that they are innocent outsiders or business whizzes. In reality, Romney’s Bain success is largely irrelevant to the question of whether he could be a good president. The real question is whether he has picked up traits like emotional security, political judgment and an instrumental mind-set from his upbringing and the deeper experiences of life.
A couple points here. First, would any of you choose a Jeebus-praising fuck-up like W over a successful businessman (even a vulture capitalist) like Romney? Romney would at least be able to think about the possible costs of something like the Iraq War. How can that not be an advantage?
Second, this is a perfect example of what Corey Robin describes as the bedrock principle of conservatism “that some are fit, and thus ought, to rule others”. What I still don’t understand, though, is why those fit to rule others have to be Jeebus-lovers and manly men, not technocrats. I say this as someone who is supremely suspicious of Friedman-style Sinophilic worship of supposedly omniscient political leaders: I cannot understand conservatives’ rejection of intellect and policy knowledge.