February 8th, 2008 by Rightsideup

The WSJ’s op-ed today on Mitt’s suspension of his campaign is a little kinder on him than its previous analysis of his candidacy, although it makes some of the same points anyway:

… while he convinced various radio and TV hosts, he never made the sale about his convictions to enough voters.

The former consultant and entrepreneur also faced a stark data point: His campaign never caught fire with his party’s voters in the way he hoped. Americans often say they want a businessman candidate, but rarely do they elect one as President. Perhaps that’s because they understand the incentives are very different in the business marketplace than in Washington, and they are looking for convictions and ideas as much as technocratic competence in their candidates.

The irony here is that surely, over the last eight years, we’ve seen what ideology alone does, both when not accompanied by competence, and when not tempered by reality. While Bush’s ideology has allowed him to appoint two good Supreme Court justices, his lack of competence and over-emphasis on ideology has meant he’s failed to exercise discipline over Congress by using his veto power, and pursued failing strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Competence is exactly what we need, especially when coupled with strong principles, and perhaps what Romney failed to do was make that point effectively, which was hard for him to do when running as a Bush fan. A businessman’s analytical mind would likely have being able to grasp much more quickly that the Iraq strategy wasn’t working, and probably would have been quicker to make personnel changes too.

Some of the more positive comments were a little kinder, however:

Given that some of his more melodramatic supporters have taken to declaring their intentions to support Hillary Clinton over Mr. McCain, Mr. Romney’s statesmanship will win admirers across the GOP.

… He… showed himself to be a man of personal integrity, and he arguably made Mr. McCain a better candidate — in particular by forcing the Arizona Senator to speak more clearly about the economy.

… [McCain’s] task of unifying the party was made easier by Mr. Romney’s statesmanship.

Glad they recognise that Romney has exercised self-discipline whereas Huckabee apparently intends to continue his Quixotic pursuit of the nomination at great cost to himself, his supporters and the party.