Let’s review. George Romney was a business executive who was elected Governor of Michigan in 1966, two years before the 1968 election. He was from what Republicans of that time would call the "establishment" wing of the party. He was, in their view, a liberal.
In the way I like to describe political history, Romney represented the AntiThesis of his time, the Eisenhower wing of the GOP, and sought to lean against the Johnson thesis to gain the Presidency. But that’s not how things work when a new generation needs to create its own myth.
Liberal Republicans like Romney were doubly rejected by the 1960s. They leaned against the Johnson thesis, and they were rejected by the Nixon thesis which followed it. Romney is known today, if known at all, for having said he was "brainwashed" by the Johnson Administration into supporting the War in Vietnam. That joke rolled 40 years through history to bite John Kerry in the ass.
So who’s Romney now?
This one may be controversial. But hear me out.
James Webb has not been elected to anything. Romney was not elected to office until 1966. Webb is to the right of his party, as Romney was to the left. He has the assumption of gravitas, as Romney did, but has not been tested.
But if Webb beats George Allen, previously identified in this series as being like Robert Kennedy, he automatically becomes Presidential timber. Conservative Democrats will grab hold of Webb as a way to lean against the Nixon-Reagan-Bush Thesis, just as Republicans a generation ago sought to lean Romney against the Roosevelt-Truman-Johnson Thesis.
That would be a mistake. As I have said constantly on this blog over the last several months, a new Thesis is needed. The Nixon-Reagan-Bush Thesis is not right or wrong, it’s irrelevant to the challenges of our time. It not only doesn’t answer the questions which need answering, it doesn’t ask them.
Same thing with Webb. He seeks to moderate the existing Thesis, in which he has lived his life. He seeks redemption for his sins (he was Reagan’s Navy Secretary) and thus is yesterday’s man.
And if Allen beats Webb in November? There will be other candidates. Look around. See any conservative Democrats upsetting regular Republicans? (I’m sure you can.) That’s where to look.
Who’s Ramsey Clark now?