In the Monday evening political debate in Tampa interviewer Brian Williams asked Governor Mitt Romney what his conservative credentials were? It was a kind of open-ended question and Romney appeared stumped, at least according to many reports and what you can see on the video of the moment. His answer has been criticized by the pundits in the news coverage since last night. Here is Romney's answer "Well, number one, I've raised a family," he said. "And I've — I've — with my wife, we've raised five wonderful sons, and we have 16 wonderful grandkids." A real gaffe right?
Governor Romney went on to reference his private sector background and his gubernatorial experience, but the reference to his family will stick says another morning critic. The reporter adds, "Romney had a chance to brandish his conservative bona fides and instead gave Republicans a somewhat nonsensical response about his number of children. It's not clear how raising a family ties to contributing to the conservative movement in the Republican Party” (emphasis mine).
I do not report this exchange to either endorse Romney nor to comment on whether or not he was actually well-prepared to answer it, which it appears he was not. He really did seem caught off guard and thus he spoke off the cuff, maybe from the heart. (Ironically it is said that he does not do this well, being so well trained and not-so-genuine in his manner.)
Here was the general conclusion of much of the press, at least as given in the morning news:
Romney's answer highlights his inability to connect to many rank-and-file members of the conservative movement, a problem that's continued to haunt him after his stunning defeat in South Carolina last week. He's skilled at detailing the X's and O's of policy, but his efforts to prove he's a rock-ribbed conservative often come up short.
So let me see if I understand this point. Romney's initial, unrehearsed, appeal to being a father and grandfather came up short in demonstrating that he is a real conservative. I understand differences in political philosophy really do matter. I also understand that Romney was not well prepared for this question, or perhaps it was just a bad moment. But when pushed about his conservatism Romney appealed to family in the spur of a moment.
I am sure of one thing about the present cultural decline that we are experiencing. Every major indicator reveals that our schools and related community activities are failing precisely because families are falling apart and the family structure is in massive disarray and radical redefinition. Charles Murray's newest research reveals this to be the case, except among the wealthiest and best-educated. Perhaps the greatest single indicator/predictor of "success" in one's personal life is rooted in their family system and social background. I would think conservatives, of all people, recognized this clearly. I guess I am wrong in my assumption. After all, the candidate who is on fire right now is no paragon of family values. I get the feeling the term "conservative" is about as useless a term to describe anything important as the opposite word is in so many cases. I'm weary of the words and the process and it is still January. Don't we know that none of these candidates can truly make a big difference in the wider culture?