Gov. Romney just penned an op-ed in National Review this evening, titled “Culture Does Matter,” reflecting on his comments on culture in Israel this weekend.
During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.
But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality.
The Founding Fathers wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with the freedom to pursue happiness. In the America they designed, we would have economic freedom, just as we would have political and religious freedom. Here, we would not be limited by the circumstance of birth nor directed by the supposedly informed hand of government. We would be free to pursue happiness as we wish. Economic freedom is the only force that has consistently succeeded in lifting people out of poverty. It is the only principle that has ever created sustained prosperity. It is why our economy rose to rival those of the world’s leading powers — and has long since surpassed them all.
Speaking to soon-to-be-booted-out Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a hot mic caught Obama revealing a secret agenda for Russia (after claiming he’ll be re-elected this fall):
Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him [Putin] to give me space.” Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…” Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir, and I stand with you.”
(Did you catch the body language between the two presidents…?)
Obviously, Obama and Medvedev didn’t know the world would hear their exchange. By the way, Putin (recently elected under dubious procedures) is expected to appoint Medvedev as Russia’s Prime Minister.
› Governor Romney addressed Obama’s telling revelation yesterday while speaking to an audience in San Diego, CA and talking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Hugh Hewitt also got The Gov’s take on it. LISTEN TO AUDIO of Hewitt’s interview here.
HH: So the President says, Governor Romney, this is my last election, after my election I have more flexibility. And President Medvedev says I understand, I will transmit this information to Vladimir. Your reaction, Governor Romney?
MR:Well, it is revealing, it is alarming, it’s troubling, it suggests that the President has a very different agenda with the Russians than he’s willing to tell the American people. And for that reason alone, we ought to vote him out of office. This is a very disconcerting development.
HH: What do you think he has in mind, Governor, when he says I will be flexible? Is it missile defense? It is the number of our warheads? Is it Iran? What is he talking about?
MR: Well, he says missile defense, but we’re talking about one of those two issues, either missile defense or warheads. What he’s done on warheads, of course, with the new START Treaty, he took warheads down to 1,500 on strategic nuclear weapons. Of course, the Russians were already at 1,500. They didn’t have to have any reductions. We were at 2,200. So the only reduction in his missile defense treaty was a reduction at the U.S. level. And of course, he ignored the tactical nuclear weapons, which are of course the same nukes. They’re just on smaller rockets. He ignored that, where Russia has an advantage of five or ten to one over us. So this is a president who continues to try and appease and accommodate, and believes that the best interests of America are to bow to the interests of Russia. And it’s very, very troubling, and I mean, I’m very disturbed by this. I hope the American people understand that what we heard from the President is revealing about his character in terms of what he tells the American people, and revealing about his direction and sentiment with regards to Russian, which is after all our number one geopolitical foe. They don’t represent a military threat to us at the present, but they oppose us at every turn in the United Nations, and oppose us in every one of our efforts, whether in Iraq or Iran, North Korea. They’re on the other side. And for him to be cozying up with them with regards to missile defense is simply unacceptable.
HH: How do you expect this aside from the President will be understood in Poland and the Czech Republic, and Ukraine, and Georgia, and other front line states facing a newly-expansive Russia?
MR: Well, I think our friends around the world have been reevaluating their relationship with the United States, in part because of this president’s treatment of friends relative to the treatment of enemies. I’ve heard from more than one foreign leader that it seems to be preferable to be an American foe than an American friend to this president.
HH: Now Governor Romney, the press will of course attempt to dismiss this as not a big issue. Will this remain a front line issue? And do you think that the President has got to spell out with great detail what he has in mind here?
MR: You know, I don’t think he can recover from it, to tell you the truth. I mean, I think he will try and spin something. But I don’t know how you spin from an open mic, where you’re talking about having more flexibility after the election, which means quite clearly that you don’t want the American people to hear what you’re really planning on doing, and that you’re going to be able to do more when you no longer are accountable to the American people. You know, the mainstream media may try and put this to bed, but we’re going to keep it alive and awake. And we’re going to keep hammering him with it all the way through November.
The mainstream media, along with Gingrich, Santorum, Limbaugh, Palin, and many others, have effectively created the public image of Gov. Romney as a moderate Republican for any number of reasons. Serious voters that study his record as Governor, and his rhetoric as a candidate, discover early that Romney is very much a conservative.
Yet, the “moderate” label brings to mind two important ironies: 1) In the 2007-08 cycle, Gov. Romney was considered conservative by comparison to the eventual nominee, John McCain, and 2) the TV-informed voters of this cycle have accepted the moderate label (among other attributes) and as a result consider Romney the superior choice to defeat the incumbent Obama.
In the sun with sons
Romney’s record as governor proved he is a conservative leader — his 800+ vetoes alone informs the electorate that he had the conservative will and courage to stand up to an 85 percent Democrat legislature in one of the most liberal states of the union.
Larry Kudlow wrote an insightful piece titled, “The Reagan in Romney” at National Review Online on topic:
The late William F. Buckley Jr. naturally put it best when he said, “The wisest choice would be the one who could win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.”
Bill Buckley’s Law applies to Mitt Romney today. And it’s worth noting Rush Limbaugh’s recent update to the dictum. Following Romney’s terrific Illinois victory speech on Tuesday, Rush said flatly, “A conservative alternative to Romney is Romney.”
[Candidly, I don't trust Limbaugh much at all in his opinions. We'll see. I stopped listening to him years ago as it became obvious that he is about 85 percent entertainer and 15 percent sincere conservative thinker (his show makes way more money when a liberal is POTUS)]
As the tough primary season ventures on, Romney has clarified and evolved his views into tough conservative positions.
On economic policy, for example, he would limit the government budget to 20 percent of GDP, slash $500 billion in his first term [...] He’s for a true, all-of-the-above energy policy that would take the regulatory handcuffs off drilling on federal lands. He would repeal Obamacare. And he has come up with a supply-side tax cut that lowers marginal rates by 20 percent across-the-board and drops the corporate tax to 25 percent.
These are very conservative positions. One can seriously ask whether Romney isn’t the most conservative presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.(more…)
Somehow, after having traveled to several states and across the country this week, Mitt Romney has found sufficient time to fire up the iPad and produce an op-ed slamming the Obama administration for flirting with the idea of releasing a ‘presidential statement’ condeming Israeli settlements as “three mistakes in one”. From the op-ed it’s interesting to see Romney’s feelings regarding the U.N. summed up as the “chamber of double-standards”.
With 40 states scheduled on his round-the-country tour, and his stepping-up of Obama criticism, I’d say Romney is looking more and more like a 2012 candidate for President! …And the Obama administration knows it.
From National Review:
The Obama administration has been seeking a way to avoid vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel. It has floated the idea of meeting Israel’s critics halfway with a U.N. “presidential statement” calling Israeli settlements “illegitimate.” Whether or not such a statement is actually issued, the very idea is a mistake. Indeed, we have here in this single idea a display of multiple foreign-policy failures of this presidency. Let us count the ways the administration’s proposed action has already injured Israel and the United States.
Obama Turns his Back on Israel
For one thing, the U.N. condemnation put forward by the president puts Israel, our closest ally in the region, in an untenable position. In exchange for peace, previous Israeli governments offered radical border concessions, surrendering most of the West Bank and even portions of Jerusalem. In 2005, the government of Ariel Sharon withdrew from the Gaza Strip, uprooting thousands of its own citizens. Yet all such proposals and steps toward peace have been met by Palestinian rejection, by intifadas, by suicide bombings, and by Qassam rocket fire. Isolated more than ever in the region, Israel must now contend with the fact that its principal backer in the world, the United States, is seeking to ingratiate itself with Arab opinion at its expense. Will an increasingly tenuous relationship with the U.S., at the very moment when it is becoming more vulnerable, encourage Israel to be as flexible as it has in the past, or the reverse? The answer is clear.
*Note by Jayde – Just this past January, Governor Romney completed an intense ‘listening and learning’ tour of the Middle East – meeting with foreign leaders, groups, U.S. military officials, etc., including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Back in October 2009, he wrote an op-ed voicing his concern about the drift of our government’s relationship with Israel. In 2007, the Governor visited Israel and was a featured speaker at their 7th annual Herzliya Conference on Israeli security. Interestingly, he and Netanyahu worked together early on in their careers as consultants at the Boston Consulting Group. Romney also writes about Obama’s undermining of U.S. allies beginning on p. 27 of ‘No Apology‘ hardback (not sure if paperback pages are the same).
More great results for the Governor today, coming from a newly released GOP Insiders Poll at Nation Journal:
James A. Barnes, Insiders Poll Director at NR, sums it all up in the video below:
Coupled with the amazing results of this Insiders poll, BOSMAN posted a new poll that has Mitt Romney dominating New Hampshire. I was wondering, will a solid win in New Hampshire’s early primary be enough to push Mitt to a prominent, permanent position at the top? It did for McCain. I remember in the days leading into the ’08 NH primary, there was talk of McCain’s campaign being completely deflated — not even enough steam (funding) to make it until Super Tuesday. But the guy eeked out a win in NH, gained huge recognition for the victory, and the money and support came flowing in.
I don’t see Mitt’s numbers going down anytime soon. Only time will tell how things play out for Mitt (assuming he’s up for the challenge). Until then, anyone know the cost of a plane ticket from SLC to Manchester? Oh, and will 50 Mitt Romney yard signs make it through airport security? …Here’s hoping.
Episode 3: Romney Strikes Back – Mitt Romney provides “further discussion” to Senator Lugar’s thoughtful critique. In this discussion Mitt outlines eight serious problems with the New START treaty. This time NRO is Mitt’s weapon of choice.
1. New START does limit U.S. missile-defense options. First, New START’s preamble not only references missile defense, it accedes to Russia’s insistence that there is an interrelationship between strategic offensive weapons and missile defense. While the Bush administration steadfastly refused to accept this Russian position, the Obama administration bows to it. The statement of interrelationship in the preamble, in addition to the specific missile-defense measures in the body of the treaty, amount to a major concession to Russia.
The treaty’s advocates dismiss the preamble reference as non-binding. But the significance of including missile-defense provisions in an offensive-weapons treaty is not lost on either signatory. Further, the Russians assert that the preamble does indeed constitute a binding limit on our missile-defense program, both in their Unilateral Statement and in subsequent public statements. Gen. Yevgeniy Buzinskiy, who served as the chief of the International Treaty Directorate in the Russian Ministry of Defense during the treaty’s negotiations, insists that any increase in our ABM system could be claimed as a breach of the treaty. Such ambiguity and pressure, and fear of being accused of violating the treaty, could strongly restrain American presidents from aggressively developing and deploying missile defense. The 1972 ABM Treaty provides historical precedent for such a chilling effect: Fearful that U.S. theater-missile-defense systems would be viewed as violating the treaty, we pulled back from realizing the full potential of such systems.
Further, the treaty prohibits our conversion of ICBM and submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers for the launching of defensive interceptors. Such conversions may well not be part of the Obama administration’s current plans, but they could surely be part of a subsequent administration’s. Past missile-defense agency directors and naval planners have objected to precluding SLBM-launcher conversions, capable as they could be of defending America and our allies from diverse and undisclosed locations. Such conversions were prohibited by the ABM Treaty during the Cold War — a treaty from which we have withdrawn — but the Obama administration is consenting to their renewed prohibition by New START. Under its terms, there could be an average of four or more SLBM tubes on each of our strategic submarines that no longer contain ballistic missiles but may not be converted for defensive interceptors, and so are empty.
The sixth agreed statement of the treaty’s protocol suggests that telemetry data on missiles governed by the treaty is not to be used for strategic-missile-defense purposes. In the long term, agreeing to this limitation could prove to have been very short-sighted.
Finally, treaty analysts at the Heritage Foundation have opined that “the most serious threat to missile defense in the New START treaty is contained in the power given to the Treaty compliance forum, the Bilateral Consultative Commission. . . . Missile defense is directly within the purview of the BCC.” Treaty proponents note that substantive changes to the treaty cannot be made by the BCC. But the BCC can — without Senate advice and consent — make changes to the treaty’s definitions and agreed statements, including those involving missile defense. The treaty Protocol assigns to BCC the defining of missile defense and key terms relating to the conversion of ICBM silos for defensive interceptors. An administration that wished to further limit missile defense without the advice and consent of the Senate could do so through the BCC. In the past, under START I, the JCIC, a body comparable to the BCC, did indeed make substantive changes to that treaty’s terms without Senate consent.
National Review’s thoughtful writer, Ramesh Ponnuru, gives a refreshing and honest apprisal of Romney’s past, present, and future as a presidential candidate in Romney Reboots. Not afraid to say where 2008 went wrong and how 2012 looks more promising, Ponnuru’s experience and informed opinion are backed up with conversations with Mitt and his Staff.
In the early stages of the undeclared race for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney is the frontrunner. The former governor of Massachusetts has the best-developed national network of supporters of any of the potential candidates. He is the one doing the most party-building across the country; of his potential rivals, only Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty comes close. He is the one to whom other Republicans are most likely to turn for answers on economic policy, and on many issues he is the only one giving them. When the auto companies came to Washington only Romney had a plan (“Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check,” he wrote in the New York Times).
He knows more about a larger range of policy issues than most of the other Republican candidates. All the candidates can, presumably, say something plausible about Afghanistan; not many can give a credible answer to a question about the role mark-to-market accounting rules played in the financial crisis, as Romney recently did in an interview with me.
A Republican strategist with no ties to Romney recently heard him speak and came away impressed by how much better a speaker he has become. “His stump speech has gotten very, very good. It’s very honed.” In a recent Rasmussen poll, Romney narrowly beat Sarah Palin as the candidate Republican voters most favored. Even the narrowness of that win may work to his advantage. Romney is not so far out in front that he has to worry about meeting high expectations. Nor has he ever made himself the center of attention. Thus he has avoided much criticism and kept voters from getting bored with him. He has been detached and analytical rather than angry.
Romney still has his old-fashioned leading-man looks. He is seasoned. (Only once in the last 50 years have Republicans won with a nominee making his first run for president.) And his aides think they have learned from the mistakes they made in 2007 and 2008. Romney has had an excellent 2009.
Thereafter follows a thorough re-hashing of 2008, from political positioning to religious affiliations. It really is a good read . . . and it ends with:
He gives every sign that he is in the race. The weekend I met with him, Romney addressed the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit; did separate fundraising events for Republican candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and state representative in Virginia; spoke at a conference of the Foreign Policy Institute; and sat down with at least two other reporters. His book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, comes out next spring.
Romney believes that Republicans are on the rebound, thanks to President Obama. “I think the concern about the direction he is taking America in foreign policy and domestic policy is mounting. . . . I don’t think for a minute that the country subscribes to President Obama’s foreign policy. . . . I don’t think the country is enamored with the idea of a single-payer health-care system. . . . I don’t think the country wants a cap-and-trade program that could cost the average American family $1,761 [a year].”
Earlier in the interview, he spoke about his primary campaign and McCain’s general-election campaign in 2008. “I heard something from [former HHS] secretary Mike Leavitt which has stuck with me. . . . He said he was watching the ABC Wide World of Sports years ago with the surfing championships. The commentator said that to win the surfing championships requires a person of extraordinary skill and a good wave.” Few have ever doubted that Mitt Romney is a person of extraordinary skill.
“Our guiding principle has always been to select the most conservative viable candidate. In our judgment, that candidate is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. Unlike some other candidates in the race, Romney is a full-spectrum conservative: a supporter of free-market economics and limited government, moral causes such as the right to life and the preservation of marriage, and a foreign policy based on the national interest.
“Romney is an intelligent, articulate, and accomplished former businessman and governor. At a time when voters yearn for competence and have soured on Washington because too often the Bush administration has not demonstrated it, Romney offers proven executive skill. He has demonstrated it in everything he has done in his professional life, and his tightly organized, disciplined campaign is no exception. He himself has shown impressive focus and energy.
“More than the other primary candidates, Romney has President Bush’s virtues and avoids his flaws. His moral positions, and his instincts on taxes and foreign policy, are the same. But he is less inclined to federal activism, less tolerant of overspending, better able to defend conservative positions in debate, and more likely to demand performance from his subordinates. A winning combination, by our lights. In this most fluid and unpredictable Republican field, we vote for Mitt Romney.”