I'm a severe conservative, and by that I mean gimme some tax cuts. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
The takeaway from
seems to be that conservative pundits don't feel loved by Mitt Romney, and they're pouting about it. Apparently it's not enough that Mitt meet with them and listen to their carping: He also has to pretend more sincerely that he gives a damn.
He needed to do a better job reaching out to conservative writers and pundits, [Newsmax chief executive Christopher] Ruddy told the candidate. But then, sensing that he wasn’t breaking through, Mr. Ruddy stopped.
“There was a lack of interest on his part as to specific recommendations I might have,” he later recalled.
“My feeling from them was that while they were happy to listen to the information, they weren’t going to act on it.”
The article goes on to portray Romney as conspicuously distanced from the conservative pundit corps, and notes that while the Romney 2008 campaign was quick to register complaints with conservative pundits that badmouthed him, this year they're not doing that. Apparently they're bitter about that too.
I'm not sure any of that is surprising, though it does string together nearly all of the core criticisms of Romney from the right. He is not a part of the movement; he has no particular devotion to conservative ideas; his interactions with them are robotic at best, etc. They are afraid that as president they would not have the ear of the White House, which is the only thing they care about, and that makes them exceedingly nervous. Now, I'm not sure why they think they can hammer Romney all day, every day and still expect Romney to be all flowers-n-candy at them, but I think that, too, is part of the natural pundit ego. The president exists to take their advice, not the other way around.
It's interesting that they have such skepticism of Romney, however, while at the same time Grover Norquist is trying to shore up at least begrudging Romney support by assuring audiences that as president Romney would definitely do what they say. What's the difference? I think it's the difference in focus. Grover Norquist is about one thing and one thing only: Cutting taxes on filthy rich people. As a filthy rich person himself, Mitt is already quite committed to that agenda, and in fact it is the only agenda Romney can regularly articulate. Other conservative powerbrokers, however, the ones that dwell on social conservative issues, hardline militarism, and the like, have much less evidence that Romney would really be in their camp.
It's yet another symptom of the larger divide, in other words. The corporate conservatives want one sort of candidate, and as a pliable and very corporate type himself, Romney fits that bill perfectly. The social conservatives (and more importantly, the base) want a true believer, and nothing less; their support has shuffled to and from each not-Romney candidate in turn, looking desperately for someone who is both an absolutely, 100-percent-pure true believer and who won't shoot their own foot off the first time they're given a microphone. This has been a harder thing to accomplish. That they're down to Rick Santorum as their last standing not-Mitt should tell you all you need to know on that front.
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