The media, of course, is treating this as big news. It’s not. Bush 41 indicated he liked the cut of Mitt’s jib over a year ago during an interview with Larry King. Readers may recall that it was during this same interview that Barbara Bush admonished Governor Palin to stay in Alaska, presumably so that ideology-free Republican blue-bloods (like her husband and the Mittster) could maintain their tenuous hold on the Party. Anyway, here’s Bush 41’s endorsement of Romney, via the Boston Globe:
Former President George H.W. Bush revealed today he is supporting Mitt Romney in his bid for the presidency, potentially adding further momentum to the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign.
“I think Romney is the best choice for us,” the former President Bush told the Houston Chronicle. “I like [Texas Governor Rick] Perry, but he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere; he’s not surging forward.”
On Romney, he was effusive.
“He’s a fine person,” he said. “I just think he’s mature and reasonable – not a bomb-thrower.”
Again, why is this news? Not only did Bush essentially endorse Romney last year, but who else would he endorse? Both are from the patrician Republican establishment and both share a disdain for conservatives. It was Bush, after all, who called Reagan’s economic plan of dramatically lower marginal tax rates, which resulted in an unprecedented economic boom, “voo-doo economics”. Romney’s ludicrous 59-point plan is exactly the kind of technocratic nonsense Bush 41 and those of his ilk live for. Real and relentless reform of the Washington culture is the last thing on his mind. In endorsing the Mittster, Bush also took a shot at Newt Gingrich:
Of former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Bush said, “I’m not his biggest advocate.”
Several Republicans integral to the budget talks of 1990, in which Bush decided to break his “Read my lips: No new taxes” pledge in exchange for budget discipline that would lead to a balanced budget, say Gingrich undercut the president in negotiations.
In the interview with the Chronicle, Bush alluded to that pivotal moment in his presidency, when he was counting on Gingrich, then the House whip, to stand with him and other Republican leaders.
“He was there, right outside the Oval Office. I met with all the Republican leaders, all the Democratic leaders,” Bush recalled. “The plan was, we were all going to walk out into the Rose Garden and announce this deal. Newt was right there. Got ready to go out in the Rose Garden, and I said, ‘Where’s Gingrich?’ Went up to Capitol Hill. He was here a minute ago. Went up there and started lobbying against the thing.
This is interesting. He doesn’t like Newt because Newt had the foresight in 1990 to lobby against Bush’s massive tax increase. That would be the same tax increase that George Mitchell tricked Bush into agreeing to in violation of his famous “read my lips, no new taxes” campaign promise which ultimately ended up costing him re-election, in no small part because it provided fodder for easily crafted campaign ads like this to the Democrats on a silver platter:
Does Bush think he’d have won re-election if Gingrich hadn’t opposed his tax increase? Presumably Bush believes Romney would have been all for that tax increase. On this point I believe Bush is correct. Mitt undoubtedly would have been in with the bipartisan group of “leaders” who engineered the Republican capitulation and ceding of the tax issue to the Democrats in the 1992 election, just like he was in with the bipartisan group of leaders in Massachusetts who created the blueprint for ObamaCare.
All of this brings up an interesting question: Who will Bush 41’s endorsement of Multiple Choice Mitt help more? Mitt or Newt? I have to go with the latter. While I’m no Newt supporter, if nothing else this story reminded me that Newt was one of the leaders of the opposition to Bush’s disastrous tax increase which began the slow but inexorable upward trend in marginal tax rates from Reagan’s 28% top rate, and which began the unraveling of the limited government philosophy that resulted in the Reagan economic boom. Thanks for the reminder, George.
Update: A New Hampshire newspaper, The Concord Monitor, just endorsed Jon Huntsman. In explaining their pick, the Monitor had this to say about the predicament citizens considering a vote for the Mittster face:
With Romney, they wouldn’t know who they would get: the moderate Mitt who was once pro-choice, in favor of a health-care mandate, a supporter of the auto industry bailout and a believer that human activity was contributing to climate change – or the newly conservative Romney, who opposes abortion, claims the reason for climate change is unknown, opposes a health insurance mandate and claims that bailing out Detroit was a mistake.