If conservatism were winning, does anyone doubt that Romney would be running as a conservative? Yet unlike Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, Romney is offering an echo, not a choice. His strategy at the end is to try to sneak into the White House on a chorus of me-too’s.
The right is going along because its partisans know Romney has no other option. This, too, is an acknowledgment of defeat, a recognition that the grand ideological experiment heralded by the rise of the tea party has gained no traction. It also means that conservatives don’t believe that Romney really believes the moderate mush he’s putting forward now. Not to put too fine a point on it, but if the conservatives are forgiving Romney because they think he is lying, what should the rest of us think?
Almost all of the analysis of Romney’s highly public burning of the right’s catechism focuses on such tactical issues as whether his betrayal of principle will help him win over middle-of-the-road women and carry Ohio. What should engage us more is that a movement that won the 2010 elections with a bang is trying to triumph just two years later on the basis of a whimper.
It turns out that there was no profound ideological conversion of the country two years ago. We remain the same moderate and practical country we have long been. In 2010, voters were upset about the economy, Democrats were demobilized, and President Obama wasn’t yet ready to fight. All the conservatives have left now is economic unease. So they don’t care what Romney says. They are happy to march under a false flag if that is the price of capturing power.
I like E.J. Dionne. I think he's a smart guy and solid political analyst and pundit.
But he has never been more wrong in his life. Ever.
The fact that E.J. is writing this column is empirical proof that he too has been taken in by Romney's Etch-A-Sketch campaign. Dionne sees meaningless blanks. I see a President far more compliant than Dubya ever was. He will do exactly what he is told. It will be the Dubya years all over again, only worse.
And should Romney lose, we will see an even more wingnut crazy candidate in 2016. Santorum. Huckabee. Who knows? Ryan even. Madness.
No, what this election represents is the death of GOP moderates. They are gone from the party for good. And Romney is their puppet.