As governor of one of the most liberal states in the union, Mitt Romney did something even Ronald Reagan didn't do as governor of California: He balanced the budget without raising taxes.
Romney became deeply pro-life as governor of the aforementioned liberal state and vetoed an embryonic stem cell bill. (Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich lobbied President George W. Bush to allow embryonic stem cell research.)
Romney's approach to illegal immigration in Massachusetts resembled what Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona is doing today, making her a right-wing heroine.
Romney pushed the conservative alternative to national health care that, had it been adopted in the 49 other states, would have killed Obamacare in the crib by solving the health insurance problem at the state level.
Unlike actual Establishment candidates, Romney has never worked in Washington, much less spent his entire life as a professional politician. He's had a Midas touch with every enterprise he has ever run, including Bain Capital, the Olympics and Massachusetts.
The chestnut about Mitt Romney being pushed on unsuspecting conservatives by "the Establishment" is the exact opposite of the truth. The Establishment, by any sensible definition, is virulently opposed to Romney -- and for completely contradictory reasons.
The entire NFM (non-Fox media) hate Romney because he is the only candidate who stands a chance of beating Obama.
Meanwhile, many of the pillars of the conservative establishment also implacably oppose Romney. Fox News is neutral, but its second-highest-rated host, Sean Hannity, is unenthusiastic about Romney, as is prominent Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, who has told Fox viewers she'd vote for Gingrich -- and also offered herself up as a possible presidential nominee at a contested convention. (Wouldn't a former candidate for vice president on a major party's ticket be part of the Establishment?)
The No. 1 conservative talk-radio host in America, Rush Limbaugh, is critical of Romney, and another top conservative talk-radio host, Mark Levin, is adamantly against Romney -- though both Limbaugh and Levin supported Romney as the conservative alternative to John McCain in 2008, and Romney has only gotten better since then.
Purely to hurt Romney, the Iowa Republican Party fiddled with the vote tally to take Romney's victory away from him and give it to Rick Santorum -- even though the "official count" was missing eight precincts. Isn't the party apparatus of a state considered part of the Establishment?
I'm not sure what part of the Establishment supports Romney. Is it Romney supporter Christine O'Donnell, erstwhile tea party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware? Am I the face of the Establishment? (If so, the country is going to be just fine.)
I would think that the pristine example of the Republican Establishment is Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor Bill Kristol. But he wants anybody but Romney, even proposing that we choose someone not running by means of a contested convention.
Who are we trying to get nominated in a contested convention, anyway?
Without having seen this mystery candidate in action, how do we know he won't be another Rick Perry? You'll recall that Perry was the dream candidate until we saw him talk.
In 2008, Romney was enthusiastically supported not only by Limbaugh and Levin, but also by Sean Hannity, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage and many others who now seem to view Romney as a closet liberal. This is especially baffling because there is no liberal candidate in the Republican primary this year.
Just four years ago, one Republican candidate for president was avowedly pro-abortion (Rudy Giuliani). One had opposed Clinton's impeachment and tort reform (Fred Thompson). One supported amnesty for illegals, restrictions on core First Amendment speech, federal laws to combat nonexistent global warming, and opposed Guantanamo and the Bush tax cuts ("tax cuts for the rich!") and called waterboarding "torture."
That last one was our nominee: John McCain.
This year, every Republican candidate for president opposes abortion, promises to repeal Obamacare, opposes raising taxes, and on and on. Only one candidate is strong on illegal immigration, which is second only to repealing Obamacare as the most important issue facing the nation.
That's the alleged liberal, Mitt Romney.
Conservatives scratch their heads wondering how the NFM can convince millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans paying $3.57 for a gallon of gas that the economy is improving simply by repeatedly saying so.
But then a large minority of those same conservatives are completely convinced that Romney is an Establishment candidate simply because they have heard that repeated so often.
As we say to dunderhead liberals: What we're looking for here is facts, not chants or epithets.
But instead of popping Champagne corks over our final triumph over Rockefeller Republicanism, some conservatives are still fighting old wars, rather like an old cold warrior prattling about the Soviet Union after the rest of us have moved onto the war on terrorism.
This strange new version of right-wing populism comes down to reveling in the feeling that you are being dissed, hoodwinked or manipulated by the Establishment (most of which happens to oppose Romney) the same way liberals want to believe that "the rich," the "right-wing media" and Wall Street Republicans (there are three) are victimizing them.
It's as if scoring points in intra-Republican squabbles is more important than beating Obama. Instead of talking about the candidates' positions -- which would be confusing inasmuch as Romney is the most conservative of the four remaining candidates -- the only issue seems to be whether "They" are showing respect for "Us."
Striking a pose as the only true fighter for real Americans may be fun, but this is no way to win elections. This is Sharron Angle on a national level.
The obsession with sticking it to the Establishment (which includes Christine O'Donnell, but excludes Bill Kristol) by voting for a loose cannon demagogue or a crusading Catholic who can't seem to move the conversation past contraception is as pie-in-the-sky delusional as anything dished by Democrats carrying on about "green jobs."
If saving the environment is the best way to create new jobs, then it could be true that being a hard-core environmentalist nutcase is the best way to appeal to the mass of independent voters.
Similarly, if reducing contraception use, lobbying for Freddie Mac and promoting huge government programs such as moon colonies and No Child Left Behind are the best ways to create jobs, then it could be true that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are our strongest candidates in a general election.
Of course, it might also be true that dousing yourself in fairy dust does not guarantee that you will find the perfect mate and get the perfect job.
We're being asked to hand Obama another four years in the White House in order to "send a message." To whom? And what message? That we're morons? Message received!
Meanwhile, Romney cheerfully campaigns on, the biggest outsider and most conservative candidate we've run for president since Reagan, while being denounced by the Establishment as "too Establishment."