I'm pleased to find that Matt Yglesias now agrees with me on "the irrelevance of the 'real' Romney," as he praises Sam Boyd's reiteration of my argument from the September Prospect, which directly took on what was then the Yglesias-Klein-etc. argument about how Romney wasn't that bad because he was some kind of secret liberal technocrat. As I wrote in the story, posted online mid-August:
Romney's feints to the center have been enough to lead some liberal bloggers to pronounce Romney "the least bad Republican contender" and "the least bad [GOP] President if he should win." As M.J. Rosenberg, director of policy analysis at the Israel Policy Forum, wrote at liberal blog TPMCafe, "He was, for a Republican, not a terrible governor and the Kennedy-Romney health care plan is better than most states have. He is a flip-flopper. To me that means he does not believe the right-wing garbage he puts out with such abandon."
Such perspectives, though understandable, are beside the point. It does not really matter which Mitt is the real Mitt or what he authentically believes. After seven years of Bush, liberals should know better than to imagine that the Republican base will nominate someone with secret plans to govern as a liberal, or even a moderate, regardless of what positions he once held in the past. The GOP will not, even accidentally, nominate someone still acceptable to a voter in Cambridge or Falmouth -- voters whose views Romney has already begun to use as a foil. The GOP will only choose Romney if it can first change him, too.
Romney may occasionally sound like a Democrat and he may sometimes talk like one. He is an immensely appealing personality in the flesh -- warm, funny, quick on his feet. But when it comes to all the most important issues of the day, the Republican primary process is turning him into the second coming of George W. Bush....
Was Romney a relatively liberal Republican as Massachusetts governor? Yes. Did he help back service programs that Democrats can cheer? He did indeed. Again, however, the critical question is: Does any of that matter today? And here the answer is a decisive no. Over the course of the next six months, as Romney runs for the GOP nomination, story after story will review the course of his life, his time in the governor's mansion, even his father's influence on his personality and campaign style. None of that will matter, though. If you want to know about what kind of president Mitt Romney would be, all you have to do is listen to what he is promising, and to whom. As Bush himself once said: "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." At least on that, we should hope Bush is right.
Welcome to the fold, Matt.
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