Mitt Romney as Ubermensch

The last time I noticed anything written by National Review‘s Kevin Williamson, it was a long, long and very unsuccessful effort to argue that the Republican Party was and always had been–particularly in the 1960s–the Party of Civil Rights.

When I read the first page of Williamson’s latest essay for National Review Online (“Like a Boss”), full of ludicrous evolutionary biology lessons about how Mitt Romney’s wealth and status and ability to beget sons ought to make him an overwhelming favorite among women, I thought the whole thing was tongue-in-cheek, and was prepared to ignore it. But then I noticed the piece went on for three pages–brevity is not Williamson’s strong suit–and finally realized he was serious in arguing that the key to victory for Mitt involves swaggering about the landscape and appealing to the inbred instincts of the American Herd for a Real Leader, or maybe even a Chief:

When things went wrong, people put Romney in charge of them — at Bain, at the Olympics, at a hundred companies he helped turn around or restructure. Bain is a financial firm, but Romney wasn’t some Wall Street bank-monkey with a pitch book. He was the guy who fired you. He was a boss, like his dad, and like his sons probably will be. Barack Obama was never in charge of anything of any significance until the delicate geniuses who make up the electorate of this fine republic handed him the keys to the Treasury and the nuclear football because we were tired of Frenchmen sneering at us when we went on vacation….

Elections are not about public policy. They aren’t even about the economy. Elections are tribal, and tribes are — Occupy types, cover your delicate ears — ruthlessly hierarchical. Somebody has to be the top dog….

Hillary Rodham Clinton told us that it takes a village, and Mitt Romney showed us how to populate a village with thriving offspring. Newsweek, which as of this writing is still in business, recently ran a cover photo of Romney with the headline: “The Wimp Factor: Is He Just Too Insecure to Be President?” Look at his fat stacks. Look at that mess of sons and grandchildren. Look at a picture of Ann Romney on her wedding day and that cocky smirk on his face. What exactly has Mitt Romney got to be insecure about? That he’s not as prodigious a patriarch as Ramses II or as rich as Lakshmi Mittal? I bet he sleeps at night and never worries about that. He has done everything right in life, and he should own it.

Lord a-mercy. This is the sort of thing I’ve always feared some conservatives really believe even as they prattle on about the Austrian School or Subsidiarism or The Debt Crisis: pure primitive power, procreative and financial, celebrated as “success”–you know, the kind you build on your own without any of that pansy-ass cooperation. I hope Williamson’s plea to Mitt Romney to get in touch with his inner ubermensch gets at least as much attention as his revisionist history of civil rights.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.