On the surface, Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate is both daring and smart. It’s daring, obviously, because Ryan’s budgetary vision of a drastically reduced federal government presents such an existential threat to liberalism that it may unite Democrats in a death-or-glory stand behind President Obama. But it’s smart because Ryan has been one of the only Republicans since Ronald Reagan capable of inspiring the right while reassuring moderates.
It’s clear that the conflict in Syria is now an issue in the American presidential campaign, largely at the insistence of Mitt Romney’s Republican supporters. Most notable among the interjections was an emotional speech recently delivered on the Senate floor by Senator John McCain, in which he demanded to know why the White House was abetting Bashar al Assad’s murdering of innocents. There is, of course, much to quibble with in this characterization: Far from doing nothing to oppose Bashar, the Obama administration has supported the U.N.
Eisenhower in War and Peace By Jean Edward Smith (Random House, 950 pp., $40) The histories we write say as much about our own times as about those we study. The current polarization in Washington has prompted a nostalgia for parties that were less ideologically uniform and more prone to compromise. Fashionable “pragmatism” has similarly infected thinking about foreign policy, as the fallout from the Iraq war lingers in the air a decade on.
The Republican Party’s alleged “war” against women is fast emerging as a major trope of the 2012 elections. And the charge is largely true: As the GOP has become increasingly conservative, so too has it become increasingly hostile to feminism and insensitive to women’s issues. But Democrats have not merely been horrified bystanders wringing their hands as this “war” has unfolded. The Democratic Party has actively encouraged the GOP’s descent into antifeminism.
A significant milestone in the history of American conservatism passed largely unnoticed last month: the fiftieth anniversary of William F. Buckley Jr.’s editorial attack on Robert Welch, the head of the John Birch Society. Buckley’s successful effort to read the conspiracy-minded anti-Communist organization out of the conservative movement deserves to be remembered by the Republican Party. Indeed, the fact that today’s GOP has paid the anniversary little heed is a telling indictment of a party gone seriously astray.
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.