By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

WSJ whacks out Romney

Wow. Check out this editorial about Mitt Romney on the Wall Street Journal’s ultraconservative editorial page, which is no fan of John McCain. Here’s just a tiny taste:

Plenty of politicians attune their positions to new constituencies. The larger danger is that Mr. Romney’s conversions are not motivated by expediency or mere pandering but may represent his real governing philosophy….

John McCain’s difficulties in selling himself to GOP voters reflect his many liberal lurches over the years — from taxes to free speech, prescription drugs and global warming cap and trade. Republicans have a pretty good sense of where he might betray them. Yet few doubt that on other issues — national security, spending — Mr. McCain will stick to his principles no matter the opinion polls. If Mr. Romney loses to Senator McCain, the cause will be his failure to persuade voters that he has any convictions at all.

Very tough stuff. (Via Blue Mass Group.)

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  1. Brian F.

    Why would you label the WSJ editorial page “ultra” conservative? You do not do the same for the Globe or NY Times? They hold the complete opposite views of the WSJ – ergo, should they not be called ultra liberal?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Brian: Because I’m trying to be accurate, not artificially even-handed. If you asked me to describe the Weekly Standard or National Review, I would respond with “conservative.” The WSJ? Ultra all the way.

  3. Steve

    Apparently your entry today inspires etymological rather than political questions. Since words are your profession and not mine, please be assured that I mean no disrespect by my inquiry. But I am struck by your use of “whacks out”.To me, the term “whacks out” means “goes crazy”. Perhaps you just meant “whacks” or maybe even “whacks out over” Romney? (I’ve found the latter usage in contexts like “the left whacked out over Schiavo”.)

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Steve: I meant it in the Mafia sense of the term. Professor Safire explains.

  5. Anonymous

    I don’t even think the WSJ would take issue with their op-ed page being described as “ultra conservative.” If you left off the “ultra,” they’d probably be offended.

  6. Ink-stained wretch in Post Office Sq.

    8:11,You are in error. Free people and free markets do not equate to “ultra” anything but the vantage point of the observer. (The “Guy from Boston” probably thinks we’re all anorexic. So what?) The fact that BMG is the source speaks volumes.

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Wretch: BMG is not the source. I simply credited them because that’s where I learned about it. I called the WSJ editorial page ultraconservative. Not them.

  8. acf

    The issue in this post should be the fact that the longer the campaign goes on, the more the voting public learns about Romney and his habit of adjusting his public positions to match his target voter bloc wants to hear. For those of us in MA, we’ve seen this since he first ran against Ted Kennedy, and it really took off in the 2 years he worked at being governor. It doesn’t matter to me whether or not the WSJ is referred to as ‘ultraconservative’ or not. I know what they’re like.

  9. Christopher

    Romney has been getting the most conservative voters according to the exit polls of the primaries.The conservative base leaders have not spoken out for Romney and haven’t spoken out against McCain.It is politics as usual, and McCain won’t win the White House running on National Security alone, that is why McCain is sliding over to the Global Warming crowd, the New York Liberals, He isn’t making these issues his own, just showing face and trying to get as many votes as possible.It is shameful that McCain will get the nomination for the Republicans, I almost feel betrayed.

  10. Ink-stained wretch in Post Office Sq.

    Google John McCain. Read some pieces from the Arizona Republic, the paper that gave him his start. (Imagine if they didn’t like him!)Anyone who claims to be intellectually honest will find that for better or worse, national candidates are ALL as slippery as Romney. After all the hoo-ha, it comes back to world view. Vote for the person whose real core, (if you can find it), most resembles your own. (You DO know what you believe in, right?)

  11. Anonymous

    Dan, the mafia term is “whack.” You whack someone, or rub them out. But you don’t “whack them out.”It is possible to whack someone off, similar to “rubbing one out,” but that’s different.People sometimes get “whacked out,” i.e., respond in a whacked out manner, when under duress.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 12:52: I’ve heard both. If you follow the William Safire link, above, you will see that he cites Robert Parker for “whack out.” I don’t think I can do much better than that.

  13. Anonymous

    My favorite part of the editorial is the admission that McCain has occasionally “Lurched left” on “free speech” issues.Thanks, Wall Street Journal, for telling the American people that liberals are the ones protecting their freedom of speech!Bob in Peabody

  14. Dan Kennedy

    Bob: I’m going to have to defend the WSJ on this one. I consider McCain’s campaign-finance-reform law to be a fairly gross abridgment of free speech, and yes, the inspiration for it comes from the left. Looks like we’re stuck with it — no doubt Clinton and Obama think it ought to be “strengthened.”

  15. Steve

    Anon 12:52 – I thought so too, but Dan’s cite of Safire is irrefutable.Bob – I think the WSJ is referring to McCain-Feingold, which the right sees as an unforgivable attack on free speech.christopher – The conservative base leaders haven’t spoken out against McCain. ????? Isn’t Rush the biggest “conservative base leader”? He’s done nothing BUT speak out against McCain, no?

  16. Anonymous

    Dan, Steve:In hindsight, I believe you are correct re: WSJ on McCain’s free-speech position. My first reaction was that the reference was to McCain’s initial opposition to warrantless wiretaps.Bob in Peabody

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