David Frum notes that Grover Norquist’s CPAC speech was “charmingly blunt.” Norquist would be begrudgingly satisfied with Mitt Romney as president; he would also accept a monkey, a plate of lasagna or a potted plant. The base may be making noise and trying to come to grips with a selection of candidates hardly suitable for running a school board, much less leadership of the entire nation, but to conservative powerbrokers like Norquist it just doesn’t matter that much:
“All we have to do is replace Obama. … We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate. [...]
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.”
This makes as eloquent a pro-Romney statement as I have heard from conservatives, which isn’t much. Sure, he might be a waffling, shambling mound of dubious ideals and conflicting statements, but hey—does it really matter? All we need is a guy who will shut up, do what we say, and make some pretty speeches about what Paul Ryan and the rest of Republicans will be doing.
I think Romney would be up to that task. His core beliefs seem to revolve around being elected to office; anything that does not interfere with that broader goal is likely to be embraced. But it’s interesting (and telling) that even high-and-mighty conservative types have the same opinion of Romney that the rest of us do. He’s not an ideas guy. He’s a get-me-elected guy. The ideas he’d leave to others. Norquist, in particular, seems to have already made peace with that.
The base is going nuts trying to decide between these various clowns, but I think the actual cash behind the Republicans align pretty closely to Norquist’s thinking here. So long as they lower the taxes on rich people, they don’t care who gets elected. Social conservative, fiscal conservative, egotistical conservative, sparkling vampire conservative—it doesn’t matter. The wealthy financiers of the various candidates care only about making more money and paying less taxes. All of those other issues are just for the rubes.