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Friday, September 7, 2007
posted by Kyle Hampton | 3:47 PM | permalink
It took me a bit to get to watch Wednesday’s debate (I had to sit through a three hour patent law class during the live feed). I wholly endorse Jason’s observations (along with Timotheus in the comments afterwards). I did want to chime in on one moment that has generated some buzz: Romney’s “apparently” comment and McCain’s response. There has been some back and forth about it at NRO specifically (Ramesh Ponnuru, Andy McCarthy, Kathryn Jean Lopez, David Freddoso, and Jim Geraghty).

First off, McCain’s comments were petty and misdirected. McCain’s absolutist position on the surge, while admirable in his support of our troops, is almost the dictionary definition of ideologue. It’s not the facts that convinced McCain that the surge is working, but the idea itself. In McCain’s mind it would be working whether or not the facts showed it, because the idea is right in his mind. This is the same kind of stubbornness that has kept him supporting “comprehensive immigration” when the facts don’t support him. Similarly campaign finance reform has been an abject failure, but McCain still supports it because the idea is right, in spite of the facts. Likewise McCain has come to the correct conclusion on the surge, not lead by the facts, but lead only by the idea. McCain is right more out of luck than any sort of analytical process that lead him to the right conclusion. Such a blind adherence to ideas is unsupportable, which, luckily, is what most Republicans have come to conclude

The episode, to me, illuminates one of the areas where Romney stands above other candidates: his strict adherence to facts and analysis. Romney’s “let’s let the facts be told and then decide” sounds so ordinary and common sense in the normal world, but yet so out of place with politicians. No rational person would make decisions like McCain (and, honestly, most other Senators), giving unfailing support to ever failing ideas. Romney’s analytical processes are much more reasonable and certainly more reliable to produce the best results.

Specifically in reference to Iraq, Romney’s stance is no less resolute or bold than McCain’s, just grounded in facts and analysis. Romney has never backed away from his understanding that Iraq is key and that we MUST win there. However, Romney understands that facts are key, not only in prosecuting the war, but also in persuading the American people of its success, in a way that pronouncements about ‘honor’ or ‘reputation’ are not.


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I don't think I've ever read a better summation of the case for Romney. Even when I think his statements are nutty, I think its possible that after a little experience that he'll see the issue differently over time.

I don't have that feeling with McCain or Giuliani.

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