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A Misguided Appeal For A “Closeted Moderate” Mitt

Nicholas Kristof presents an argument today that I’ve heard before, but which I struggle to understand. As the NYT columnist sees it, Mitt Romney was a “moderate and pragmatic governor,” who, his metamorphoses notwithstanding, may flip “back to his old self” in 2013.

The reassuring thing about Mitt Romney is that for most of his life he probably wouldn’t have voted for today’s Mitt Romney. […]

If we do see, as I expect we will, a reversion in the direction of the Massachusetts Romney, that’s a flip we should celebrate. Until the Republican primaries sucked him into its vortex, he was a pragmatist and policy wonk rather similar to Bill Clinton and President Obama but more conservative. (Clinton described Romney to me as having done “a very good job” in Massachusetts.) Romney was much closer to George H.W. Bush than to George W. Bush.

Kristof says we should “expect” this current version of Romney to revert back to a previous version. I think this is wildly misguided.

The premise here is that the Romney we see running for president is a ridiculous phony. Sure, he’s saying reckless right-wing things, he’s making irresponsible right-wing promises, and he’s completely rejected any sensible positions he once held, but it’s just an act to get elected. Voters should simply pay no attention to what Romney is saying, doing, proposing, and promising, since none this is sincere anyway.

This isn’t a criticism levied by Romney’s detractors; this is a defense offered by Romney’s tacit supporters.

It’s also incoherent.

To accept the premise of the argument, a voter would have to believe that every word out of Romney’s mouth for the last five years — about his policy agenda, worldview, and priorities — has been a deliberate scam. As part of an elaborate scheme to mislead the American public, Romney has chosen to become a closeted moderate. The lie will end and the centrist will reemerge just as soon as the electorate has put the presidency in his hands.

What those making this argument are actually proposing is an incredible gamble with the nation’s future. Sure, Romney says he’ll take a far-right approach to everything from the economy to entitlements, foreign policy to the judiciary, but perhaps we’re witnessing a half-decade-long ruse and everything will turn out fine.

That’s quite a risk with so much on the line.

Let me give Jonathan Bernstein’s piece in the new print issue another plug. The point of the article is important: what candidates say they’ll do is generally what they will do if elected.

Someone might want to send a copy to Nicholas Kristof.

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 5, 2012

January 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strangling Our Nation: ‘A Self-Inflicted Wound Of Monumental Stupidity’

There are, regrettably, plenty of prominent media voices who insist on characterizing the Republicans’ debt-ceiling crisis as a disaster brought on by “both sides.” Yes, David Gergen, I’m looking in your direction.

But for all the complaining I do about this, it’s only fair to also note those who get it right, and resist the Village’s agreed upon narrative. Here’s Time’s Joe Klein yesterday, before last night’s breakdown in the House.

[S]o, here we are. Our nation’s economy and international reputation as the world’s presiding grownup has already been badly damaged. It is a self-inflicted wound of monumental stupidity. I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans-but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs. […]

The Republicans have been willing to concede nothing. Their stand means higher interest rates, fewer jobs created and more destroyed, a general weakening of this country’s standing in the world. Osama bin Laden, if he were still alive, could not have come up with a more clever strategy for strangling our nation.

That last line was of particular interest, because it echoes a recent point from Nick Kristof. Indeed, the NYT columnist recently argued that Republicans represent a kind of domestic threat, possibly undermining the nation’s interests from within: “[L]et’s remember not only the national security risks posed by Iran and Al Qaeda. Let’s also focus on the risks, however unintentional, from domestic zealots.”

Are Klein and Kristof suggesting Republican extremism has become dangerous? It certainly sounds like it.

This is pretty bold stuff from media establishment figures. It also suggests the “both sides” nonsense hasn’t exactly achieved universal acceptance.

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, July 29, 2011

July 29, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Media, National Security, Politics, Press, Public, Public Opinion, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty, Terrorism, Voters | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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