August 03, 2011

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For another thing, the Dole-Bush-McCain look-alikes don’t energize the conservative base. They remind its members of the unpalatable candidates they’ve already voted for out of some misplaced Republican loyalty. This time they may not persist in that practice. Idea-driven voters on the right may vote for a third-party candidate, not for what GOP party bosses and the Rupert Murdoch press empire have put on their plates. Don’t underestimate the pent-up anger of the Tea Partiers, the anti-war right, and other conservative elements that Romney’s nomination would drive away from the GOP. These insurgents most definitely will not be swooning as they watch Romney “ably debating Obama.”

Chances are that Obama will clean Romney’s clock—and deservedly so. Although the former governor may be good at managing the Winter Olympics, he’s no great shakes as a pol. He was swamped in his 1994 Massachusetts senatorial bid, finishing 17 points behind Ted Kennedy. At that time Romney did not run as a social conservative but was pro-choice like Kennedy. In 2002 Romney made a comeback of sorts by winning the governorship against a weak Democratic opponent. But by 2006 he reasonably decided that he could not possibly win reelection against the current governor, the impeccably leftist black Democrat Deval Patrick.

As a consolation prize Romney decided to run for president. In the last six months of his gubernatorial career, he moved calculatingly toward the right. This glaring opportunism may hurt him in a presidential race. Although Romney cut the deficit as Massachusetts governor, he then introduced new financial problems by pushing through partly state-subsidized compulsory medical insurance. Romney’s swerving from the left to the right on all social issues when he decided to position himself for a presidential run was not a particularly smooth transition. His unprincipled politics were on display for all to see.

Towery, Peggy Noonan, and other cheerleaders are praising Romney for holding his fire in primary debates. Supposedly he’s preparing his forces to beat the floundering Obama. Romney may be holding back merely because he’s a boring, rote speaker and badly damaged goods whose only talents seem to be raising money from “moderate” moneybags and winning endorsements from WSJ columnists. Romney is also not quite sure what to do with his leftist past in Massachusetts. Although he wishes to keep it from being noticed in the presidential race, he also refuses to repudiate it. His politics are counterfactually presented as a consistent, principled pattern. But Romney protected illegals in Massachusetts, then ostentatiously kicked them out when he decided that he wanted to be president. He went from favoring compulsory, state-supported medical care to opposing Obamacare. I’ll give anyone odds the Dems will bury this guy in a presidential race by reminding the voters of how much he used to resemble them. When this happens, it’ll be poetic justice.



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