If Mitt Romney’s association with Bain Capital ends up sinking his presidential campaign, he’s unlikely to appreciate the irony. But, if he needs consolation, he might consider seeking solace in American history. The fact is that no successful businessman has ever been a successful president, and only a few have even been serious contenders for the job. This might seem odd, given Americans’ long romance with wealthy entrepreneurs and the enterprises they build.
A specter is haunting the Republican establishment—the specter of Barry Goldwater. With recent polling data suggesting that Rick Santorum has surged ahead of Mitt Romney among Republican voters nationwide, the people whose livelihoods depend on Republican electoral victories are terrified by the growing possibility of a massive wipeout in November, much like the one that Republicans experienced in 1964, when Goldwater was their nominee. But even if the magnitude of the Republicans’ defeat this year resembles that previous debacle, the path there will be significantly different.
It was not so long ago that George W. Bush seemed to embody the future of conservatism. He had entered office amid doubts about his rightful place there, but pressed ahead nonetheless with grand ambitions, conducting an ideologically potent foreign war while also promising much at home. Which led some to wonder: Was this lavish spender really a conservative? Bush’s champions rushed in to explain.
Newt Gingrich’s entrance into and Mike Huckabee’s departure from the 2012 race have both accentuated the flaws in the Republican presidential field, with numerous commentators viewing the current slate of candidates, in the words of one prominent GOP strategist, as the weakest since the one that produced Wendell Willkie. The Republicans’ mediocre field has been attributed to a host of factors, including timidity from stronger candidates wary of taking on President Obama as well as the GOP’s rightward movement, which has scared off or excommunicated electable centrists.
Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War By Robert L. Beisner (Oxford University Press, 768 pp., $35) I. "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." The speaker could have been Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, or Bill Clinton. In fact, it was George W. Bush, in his second inaugural address; and what he said is what historians will probably remember as the Bush Doctrine.
How H.L. Mencken would have skipped his paunchy knee and twinkled his china-blue eyes in cynical rapture over the Neutron bomb as another example of human folly. Really, the thing is wasted without Mencken around. The Neutron bomb, you see, is small, it's "clean"; it's teensy-weensy; it's a cutrate H-bomb that kills all the people in the neighborhood with radiation but lacks the punch to destroy buildings. How economical. What a weapon tor cleaning out cities. And what a plaything for the generals. At last we have invented a humane bomb: humane to buildings.