In addition to what I linked to yesterday, Romney’s argument against the new START has been thoroughly destroyed here, here and here, so we don’t need to dwell on Romney’s failure much more. What is a little bit more remarkable is that there has been hardly one right-of-center politician, analyst or pundit who has objected to Romney’s embarrassing op-ed. It is instructive to compare the very negative reactions to Michael Steele’s anti-Obama remarks on Afghanistan with the indifference or approving comments for Romney’s effort.
Whether one agrees with them or not, Steele’s remarks were not nearly as absurd as what Romney wrote. Even if you believe that they were utterly cynical and mistaken, as I do, some part of what Steele said is at least debatable. Nonetheless, the response on the right was instant and almost universal condemnation. Romney’s op-ed was pure nonsense from almost start to finish. Put it another way: Romney’s op-ed made Michael Steele seem like a reasonably well-informed, serious public figure by comparison. If any conservatives could be bothered to take notice of Romney’s op-ed, they have usually quoted from it without comment or simply approved of it. The only criticism from the right other than mine that I have been able to find is this bit of Palinite propaganda.
These reactions are quite consistent in that most conservative critics of Steele were offended by his remarks because they are reflexively hostile to any dissent from a hawkish position regardless of the merits of it, and most conservatives are pleased with Romney’s argument because it supports a foolish, super-hawkish position and because they are reflexively hostile to the idea of arms control and arms reduction regardless of the merits. Automatic hawkishness and anti-Obama sentiment did not align at all in Steele’s case, but they align quite nicely for Romney. Unfortunately, far from being discredited by his sheer ignorance of the relevant issues concerning the treaty he is attacking, Romney is going to prosper within the GOP because his ignorant arguments reaffirm what many in the movement and the party already believe. In this case, what they believe is that diplomacy is usually ineffective, authoritarian governments should never be diplomatically engaged, much less trusted, and that Obama is selling out the country to rivals and enemies. The new START is probably the worst example to use to argue for this already ridiculous view, but that doesn’t seem to bother them.