Republican discord aids Obama

At 70, columnist George Will might be forgiven some mellowing. That will clearly not be necessary after reading his broadside against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Obama team inside and out of government feels Romney is not only the likeliest Republican presidential nominee in 2012, but also the most formidable of the field arrayed against the president. They will be using any criticism of Romney from any source to try and start the hoped-for loss of tea party support for the nominee.

But some sources are better than others, and five-star conservative commentators are best of all.

Conservative enthusiasts of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, businessman Herman Cain or former Speaker Newt Gingrich are also looking for any cudgel with which to beat back Romney’s huge lead in New Hampshire.

“Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis,” Will concluded about Romney, and that will leave a mark.

Contemporaneous with the Will salvo, Team Romney released the endorsements of two former attorneys general — William Barr and Michael Mukasey — and other former senior Department of Justice officials, an important show of strength in an election cycle that will inevitably be focusing on the controversial Obama-Holder Justice Department.

It was another conventional move in a likely GOP nominee’s conventional attempt to take the center away from the Democrats so 270 electoral votes are in the red column by the close of election 2012. But conventional tactics aren’t winning hearts and minds among many big stars in the conservative pantheon.

Other influential commentators on the right — Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin to name two — had already thrown some heavy policy critiques at Romney when George Will first trotted out the Dukakis slam on ABC and then doubled down in his Washington Post column.

Knocking Romney for his Massachusetts mandate has become as popular as blasting Perry for his debate performances or hammering Cain for campaign inexperience and gaffes.

All the attacks on all the candidates take a toll. But some attacks productively push a candidate on policy. Attacks on character, as opposed to attacks on positions or ineptitude, are a different category of poison-tipped arrow.

“Obama’s second inaugural” is not a speech most conservatives would ever want to read or hear, but the imperfections of the GOP field are so, well, tempting.

Punditry-induced crackups by candidates are rare but not impossible. Mitt Romney’s dad, George, suffered one in his campaign for the presidency 44 years ago.

On Aug. 31, 1967, a local television host asked the first Gov. Romney about his trip to Vietnam. “When I came back from Vietnam,” Romney responded, “I’d just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get.” The campaign was effectively over.

The most memorable commentary of this primary season will not blow away and vanish with the winter. It will be back in the spring, summer and fall, recycled by Obama’s campaign pros and relayed by the Obama supporters in the mainstream media.

Examiner columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at

Op EdsOpinionrepublicanUS

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

Latest Breed nominee for Police Commission moves forward

Immigration attorney Jim Byrne clears Board of Supervisors committee

San Francisco Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (26) starts against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants finish sweep of Rockies behind DeSclafani’s scoreless outing

Even with fans back at Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants pitchers have… Continue reading

Kindergarten teacher Chris Johnson in his classroom at Bryant Elementary School ahead of the school’s reopening on Friday, April 9, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD students are going back to the classroom

After more than a year of distance learning, city schools begin reopening on Monday

Keith Zwölfer, director of education for SFFILM, stays busy connecting filmmakers and studios with public, private and home schools<ins>. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner) </ins>
Streamlined SF film festival focuses on family features

SFFILM Director of Education Keith Zwölfer finds movies that appeal to kids

Most Read