1:18 AM, Mar 21, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Looking back at the day's news, I must admit I'm having trouble maintaining my customary good cheer.
Watching Mitt Romney's victory speech in Illinois didn't reassure me about his chances against President Obama. (Watch it yourself to see if I'm being unfair.) Romney's remarks consisted basically of the claim that the business of America is business, that he's a businessman who understands business, and that we need "economic freedom" not for the sake of freedom but to allow business to fuel the economy. It's true that Romney will have plenty of time to improve for the general election, if, as seems likely (but still not inevitable!), he wins the nomination. But if he sticks with this core message, we'd better hope Republicans and independents are really determined to get rid of Barack Obama.
Nor was I reassured by reading about Republican political consultants wringing their hands over the risks of Paul Ryan's budget, nor by seeing some on the right foolishly disparaging it as too timid. Meanwhile, the House GOP leadership, apparently eager to move away from discussing the budget, announced a press conference tomorrow to introduce a gimmicky small business tax break. None of this reassured me that most Republican elected officials and candidates will keep their nerve or manifest much intelligence over the next few weeks and months.
Nor did listening to Gen. John Allen testify to the House Armed Services Committee reassure me that President Obama won't announce a further, irresponsible, troop withdrawal in Afghanistan for 2013 at the NATO summit in May in Chicago. And nor did reading the leak (presumably from the White House) in the New York Times about the Israel-Iran war game reassure me the Obama administration won't also spend the next few months trying to make it more difficult for Israel to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program.
So I'm morose. Oh well, I should cheer up. If the GOP presidential candidate knew how to make his case, if Republicans in Congress were smart and brave, and if the Obama administration were tough-minded and strong, who'd need THE WEEKLY STANDARD?