Alana mentions an aspect of Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Mitt Romney that is less about capitalism and more about electability: that he clumsily (read: honestly) defends what many see as the dirty work of capitalism. This is a fair argument to make, inasmuch as Romney has a tendency to litter his campaign stops with cartoonishly unattractive, but accurate, descriptions of the free market (i.e. let Detroit go bankrupt, he likes being able to fire people, “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process”).
In his column yesterday, Jay Nordlinger writes of his pleasant surprise at watching Romney engage an “occupy” protester and defend corporate profits. Jay writes: “I don’t think I had ever seen a candidate do this. You’re supposed to blast corporate profits or change the subject.” Indeed, Romney doesn’t like to sugarcoat his defense of capitalism in all its glory, and the worry is that it risks turning him into the Col. Nathan Jessup of this election, just itching to turn to a liberal and say:
You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the factory’s closing, while tragic, probably saved jobs. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves jobs. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that Wall Street, you need me on that Wall Street. We use words like market, creative destruction, invisible hand. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very economic freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way.
Of course, no one is accusing Romney of breaking the law (or of serving with distinction in the Marines), so we can’t take the metaphor too far. Nonetheless, this would, needless to say, not be the most attractive general election message to voters in swing states. But it would be the truth, wouldn’t it? And conservatives can handle that, can’t they?