None of that has changed.
Yet here's Hewitt's pitch to his listeners:
I think it is absolutely critical that Americans understand that things can be turned around. There are solutions. Smart people have got them. All we need is a political class willing to embrace them. That begins by electing Mitt Romney. It begins by electing a Republican Senate in large enough numbers to move bills that need to make hard choices. All of those people who can make that happen -- the key 10 Senate races, the key House races, Mitt Romney's race -- are listed over at HughHewitt.com. Find the Act Right button, get involved, give them some money.
It's so simple. All we need to do is elect Republicans. Give them some money. This time, it'll be different.
I have no doubt that Levin and Hewitt earnestly believe Mitt Romney and a Republican controlled Congress would be good for America, just as they believed in the GOP's pitches in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. This time they may even be right. There were a few signs of realism in their conversation. Could foreign-policy concerns sidetrack Romney's domestic agenda, Hewitt asked. Sure, Levin replied, it could happen like it did when George W. Bush was in power.
Or take this final exchange:
HUGH HEWITT: Bill Clinton was the master of convening a policy forum and using it as a content provider. I think that's so crucial in this day and age of social media. Do you see Romney being willing to talk in public about big ideas between now and November in order to claim the mandate he's got to have?
YUVAL LEVIN: I'll tell you, I think he's been pretty reticent to get into details. And I do think that's a bit of a problem because he knows the details. When you talk to Governor Romney in private, he really knows policy well. He understands what it is that needs to be done, he knows what the problems are, he's a former governor. A lot of these things are issues that he's dealth with for a long time. And I guess I find myself wishing that he would get into that more in public, because it would help assure people that he knows what he's doing.
Even Levin worries that Romney isn't running in a way that Hewitt thinks is necessary for the sweeping mandate he's predicting.
What would help is if rather than asserting that Romney will pass bold, innovative solutions if given the chance, conservative media did more to press the Massachusetts governor on specifics. Rather than deifying Paul Ryan, they'd take the time to note -- as Bruce Bartlett does in this column -- that parts of his budget are so vague that they can only get less popular once fleshed out.
To quote Bartlett at length:
... Looking only at the tax side of Ryan's plan, he is
anticipating enactment of an extraordinarily ambitious tax reform on top
of the most ambitious budget cutting effort ever enacted. He would
sharply cut outlays for every major program except Social Security and
national defense. Every governmental function one can think of would be
virtually abolished except for Medicare, Social Security and defense. A
key reason for the severity of these cuts, of course, is that Ryan would
cut taxes at the same time he is cutting spending. To achieve balance
with lower than projected revenues requires even larger cuts in
I do not believe any of this will ever happen or could
ever happen. I think Ryan has an undeserved reputation for seriousness
in budget matters. The word "fantasy" would better apply.
As I see it, the "flesh out your proposals, cut the unrealistic expectations, and prove to me you're not a manipulative charlatan" approach of Bartlett is a lot more likely to produce an accountable GOP majority with sound policy proposals than the trusting cheerleader mentality of Hewitt or Levin's mistaken notion that the severity of America's problems will force Republicans to do the right thing. Unfortunately, there's a tendency for critics like Bartlett to be ousted from movement conservatism's institutions, and for the rank-and-file to be seduced by undue optimism at two-year intervals. Hewitt has now endorsed a series of detailed policy essays by smart writers. I hope that every time he interviews Romney or a GOP legislator between now and the election he pressures them to commit to another of the planks he's so sure they'll adopt if given the chance.