What Does Will Want?

What exactly does George Will want out of the GOP?

Doug Mataconis notes that George Will is none too happy with the potential nomination of Mitt Romney.  Doug argues that Will is not only upset over Romney, but with the field in general (and perhaps even with the right as a whole).

The critiques that Doug details made me think about  a Will column from July that described the Tea Pary thusly:  “the most welcome political development since the Goldwater insurgency in 1964.”  He made a similar statement on This Week (I cannot find the clip).

This leads to consider the following:

1.  Bachmann, Cain, and Perry are all in the GOP race for the nomination owing largely to support from the Tea Party faction of the GOP.

2.  Will’s preferred candidates (Mitch Daniels and Tim Pawlenty) either did not run (Daniels) or ran unsuccessfully (Pawlenty) because, at least in part, they were too establishment and did not appeal to the Tea Party faction.  Certainly neither could be mistaken for Tea Party types.

In short:  WIll is upset by a GOP field that is shaped by what he has described as “the most welcome political development” in half a century.  I must confess, I am not sure what it is that Will wants.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. I’m not sure you say he wants anything specific other than, perhaps, to get conservatives to look around and see what they’ve done to themselves.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    In short: WIll is upset by a GOP field that is shaped by what he has described as “the most welcome political development” in half a century. I must confess, I am not sure what it is that Will wants.

    He wants a different reality. In this reality his political philosophy is revealed as ludicrous and untenable and championed only by cretins.

    People aren’t getting this, including Will. If you put forward a philosophy, and you keep finding candidates who willingly spout that philosophy, and those candidates keep looking to the general public like imbeciles, cranks, loons, (or in Rick Perry’s case all of the above plus quite possibly drunk,) and you keep finding yourself forced back to a candidate who is really just a paler shade of Obama, then the obvious conclusion is that your philosophy is bulls–it.

    Mr. Will, meet reality.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Shorter version: intellectual collapse has consequences. The libertarian/Republican philosophy has failed. It is dead. That’s why the GOP nominee will almost certainly be a man who doesn’t share that philosophy.

  4. @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m not sure you say he wants anything specific other than, perhaps, to get conservatives to look around and see what they’ve done to themselves.

    Perhaps. But from my POV, I don’t see how he can praise the TP and say that conservatives should look around and see what they’ve done to themselves. The TP is what they have done to themselves.

  5. Sheila says:

    “the most welcome political development since the Goldwater insurgency in 1964.”

    This sounds like sarcasm to me. The Republicans lost in a landslide in 1964 so how welcome could such an insurgency be?

  6. Say what you will about it, and as with all populist movements it has its flaws, but I think it’s fair to say that the Tea Party movement reinvigorated a GOP that had been feeling a sense of defeat since 2006 or so thanks to the spectacular failures of the Bush Administration.

  7. @Sheila: No, I don’t think so. Conservative lore has it that Goldwater brought purity to conservatism that eventually resulted in Reagan.

  8. @Doug Mataconis: Yes, but there is a serious logical difficulty in praising the TP and then bemoaning the candidates that the TP produces.

  9. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    Say what you will about it, and as with all populist movements it has its flaws, but I think it’s fair to say that the Tea Party movement reinvigorated a GOP that had been feeling a sense of defeat since 2006 or so thanks to the spectacular failures of the Bush Administration.

    True enough. Still this seems to be a case of tactics over strategy. The TP enabled a short-time “win” that, at the same time, caused a mis-alignment of the broader party that could prove problematic later on.

    Or is there any doubt that, given the fundamentals, without the tea-party created hard-line positions on social security, the debt limit et. al. in congress the RP would be on a safe road to victory in the presidential elections?

  10. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think the real problem is the one that was identified in an earlier comment. After 2008, the GOP had a pretty thin bench of candidates thanks in no small party to Bush’s total disinterest in building the party after 2004.

    Once the big name candidates like Huckabee, Daniels, and Christie declined to run, you’ve got Romney, and the other guys. Of the guys on the stage, the only ones who arguably have the resume we’ve typically seen from top tier Republican candidates are Romney, Perry, Hunstman, and Johnson. Of those four, two are so far back in the pack that they’re non-entities, one has nearly killed his campaign, and the other is Mitt Romney.

    I don’t really find it surprising that the “Tea Party candidates” in the race would be relative lightweights like Bachmann and Cain. Its a two year old movement and, as we saw in 2010, a populist movement tends to sometimes pick marginal candidates.

  11. Murray says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    “… I don’t see how he can praise the TP and say that conservatives should look around and see what they’ve done to themselves. The TP is what they have done to themselves. ”

    IMHO it’s even worse. The Tea Party is just the final straw of a deeper phenomenon. The likes of Will or Krauthammer have chosen for years to court the cranks in the so-called Conservative movement for short term political gain (as well as personal financial gain) and they are now surprised that Limbaugh, Hannity or Coulter have more influence on the base than they do.

    Where were they when people like Sullivan, Brooks, Parker or Frum were thrown onto the RINO bonfire?

  12. Ron Beasley says:

    Will wants his party and the conservative movement back. For years the conservative movement pandered to the flat earth crowd but they had little say and got little of what they want. The think tanks were still controlling the shots. Then Dick Armee and the Koch brothers came along and gave the flat earthers a voice. The result – a Republican primary that is a clown show.

  13. @Murray: Yes: I think that there is something to this hypothesis.

  14. @Ron Beasley: Perhaps so. But I find wanting his conservative movement back to be inconsistent with praising the TP in the first place.

  15. Kylopod says:

    >Its a two year old movement and, as we saw in 2010, a populist movement tends to sometimes pick marginal candidates.

    I think there’s another dimension: the TP is driven by a sense of ideological purity, something that any politician who has been in office for a significant length of time will have trouble maintaining. Thus, it’s not surprising that the two main TP candidates are a businessman who has never held public office and a four-year Congresswoman with zero legislative accomplishments who has built her reputation entirely on bomb-throwing rather than governance. Even then, Cain’s purity has been called into question on matters such as his past support for TARP. It’s hard to remain pure in a movement that regards things that were acceptable to conservatives just four years ago as unacceptable heresies now, but it’s harder still if you’ve had to actually govern.

  16. WR says:

    What does Will want? He wants to be paid millions of dollars for talking about how poor people deserve to be poor and rich people deserve to be rich, and he wants to pay no taxes on that money. Also, he wants to be universally regarded as a font of wisdom. He’s a maker, not a taker, and he wants all the little parasites to realize how much more important he is than they are. And the fact that they think he’s a slimy little parasite who has long since sold what little soul he might once have had makes him angry.

  17. Ron Beasley says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You may be right – perhaps he’s just lost it!

  18. Chefmarty says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    a populist movement tends to sometimes pick marginal candidates.

    In which case, is it really ‘populist’?

    I mean really, if a candidate is considered marginal, how can they be considered ‘popular’? It’s really just a motivated few in these early stages, I think it’s premature to term them populist.

  19. Console says:

    Will gets paid to be an intellectual. Conservatism has been pretty intellectually bankrupt in america for a while but 2008 was pretty bad. But then the Tea party comes out and gives Will the opportunity to flex all his sophist talents and revives conservative apologia for “intellectuals.” How can you fault Will for exercising his inner grifter. It’s his job.

  20. Hey Norm says:

    Who cares what Will wants? His hypocrisy on the TP is amusing, but entirely predictable.

  21. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    George Will??

  22. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I’m not sure you say he wants anything specific other than, perhaps, to get conservatives to look around and see what they’ve done to themselves by listening to people like himself.

    FIFY, no need to thank me, just a public service.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I must confess, I am not sure what it is that Will wants.

    Don’t feel bad Steven, neither is he.

  24. Lit3Bolt says:

    Wait, a Reagan speechwriter is disappointed in the quality of his Presidential candidates?

    I guess Will was relieved that Reagan could at least ape (haha) a Presidency.

    “The GOP needs better actors” is essentially the essence of Will’s whinge. (And in logical fairness is the complaint of many Dems as well. We all want someone to sell our ideology with charisma and success.).

  25. @michael reynolds: not sure I agree. Liberal institutions will need to be developed (Medicare for everybody is one of mine) and then the philosophy will be of value again, in trimming of their worst edges.