David Frum

11.05.12

How Would Romney Govern?

Andrew Sullivan responds to my Romney endorsement:

It's full of so many hypotheticals, it is at this point, it seems to me, premature. But there is an implicit danger in this line of thinking. It rewards pure partisan obstructionism in the past - the GOP's refusal to work on reforming the ACA because it was signed by Obama - and uses that as a reason to vote for ... the currently dissembling Republican. So the basis for backing a liar is the greater cynicism and fanaticism of the GOP. I guess you could make a utilitarian case for this. But the long-term consequences for basic accountability, honesty and civil politics are dire.

I'm more than willing to concede the point about the hypotheticals, but not so much on the "implicit danger of this line of thinking." Andrew's concern is one I share: at this point, there is far more incentive for intransigence than compromise.

But I'd send it right back to Andrew: Should we expect any different from a Democratic Congress? Harry Reid has already promised to out-Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell. That's no small feat, and it's deserving of sadness more than anything else, but it appears to be the new normal.

I've learned from Andrew to accept political reality as it is, rather than projecting my naive desires and idealism onto a situation, and that's what I'm doing here. If the new Washington picture is gridlock and cynicism, put in charge the party that trademarked the system. Force them to recognize that Washington has to work, or this country doesn't.

The GOP won't return to a degree of normalcy until its most extreme members are slowly defeated. That won't happen until voters are confronted with the reality of the decisions their representatives make.

So if they want hostages, give 'em to them. I'm sorry if Sullivan thinks that's overly cynical, but it's about the best way I can think of to force Republicans to deal with the consequences of their extremism.