Carol Platt Liebau: Pettiness Before Principle?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pettiness Before Principle?

This story in Time Magazine by former Wonkette blogger Ana Marie Cox is obviously intended to impress readers with the magnitude of the personal dislike his Republican competitors feel for Mitt Romney.

But what it does instead is impress readers with the depth of the pettiness on the part of the other candidates (or at least their staffs). Mike Huckabee really said that (see the piece) when he called McCain to concede a primary? So much for his Christian minister persona. And as for the Thompson staff, if they care more about candidate personality than defending conservative principles against a McCainian slide to the right, there's nothing else to say. Rudy, as the piece notes, liked McCain all along.

As for the fact that Romney has run "negative ads" condemning his competitors for holding positions he once held himself, well, he's had to put up with all the "flip flop" twitting for having rethought those stands. Is it also illegitimate for him to criticize those who haven't renounced positions that he now believes to be wrong? And does that mean that McCain can't, down the line, criticize Hillary or Barack for opposing the Bush tax cuts?

To read the MSM, one would think it was the first time that any candidate had run comparative ads (all, let it be noted, based on issues) against his competitors. It's understandable that his adversaries might not like Romney doing it -- but Cox may be on to something when she notes that the resentment is apparently exacerbated by the fact that Romney could afford to do so with his own money.

But since when was the GOP the party of economic resentment and class warfare? And since when have candidates and their staffs put petty personal pique above principle -- most importantly, the principle that it's more important to beat the Democrats than to gang up on fellow Republicans?


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