By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
Conservatives, up to this point in the election cycle, have been among the most vocal critics of Mitt Romney. This has been for one reason and one reason only: to nudge him toward more conservative positions for the good of the country.
Either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. For the sake of the country, it has been in the national interest for conservatives to pick the one candidate of the two who is the most influenceable toward conservatism and, well, influence him.
Conservatives have weighed in for one simple reason: they want a candidate who will promote and defend holistic conservativism because we know that is what our nation needs at this critical point in history. The primary motivation is a conviction that wholehearted, unapologetic conservatism is the only thing that will draw America back from the brink.
Secondly, conservatives know that conservatism wins every time it’s tried. It is thus in the governor’s best interest to heed his conservative critics. It will make him a better candidate, a stronger candidate, a candidate who can defeat an incumbent whose administration has been an abject failure by any conceivable measure.
Conservatism seems to be a second language for Gov. Romney, and so these criticisms have served as a kind of remedial linguistics class. But the motives of his critics - and I have been in their number - have been only to advance the cause of conservatism and to make him the strongest possible advocate for the values we care about.
This approach of constructive criticism was appropriate through the primary season, through the conventions, and through the Values Voter Summit two weekends ago. However, with the election less than 50 days away, the time to nudge the governor further to the right is probably past. He has likely been nudged as far as he can be nudged. He is what he is, and with the heat and intensity of a campaign in the stretch run, there simply is not enough time for him to do any further retooling. There isn’t time for a “turnaround” even if it would be a good idea.
The constructive criticism served a good purpose. In response, the governor seems to have embraced the need to deliver a more well-rounded conservative message, offer more in the way of specifics, talk more openly about values issues, and unleash Paul Ryan. Those adjustments, if he will follow through on them, are about all conservatives can expect at this stage of the game.
At some point, the criticism, as well-intended as it might be, becomes counter-productive. From my perspective, we have now reached that point. Ann Romney is probably right to call for a cease-fire from the friendlies.
It’s now time for the conservative community to accept Gov. Romney as he is, realize he is as conservative as he is likely to get, and focus our energies on drawing the significant contrasts between the president and the governor on critical issues such as abortion, marriage, Israel and the economy.
In competitive golf, we have an expression: play it as it lies. If your ball lands in a divot, you play it from the divot. If it lands at the base of a tree, you play it from the base of the tree. You don’t get to kick the ball out in the fairway to get the lie you want.
We’re now at that place with Gov. Romney. Conservatives are clearly playing from an awkward lie with the governor. But winning shots have been hit from bad lies in the past, and they can be hit from bad lies again. It’s time now for conservatives to get the ball as close to the pin as possible on November 6.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)