At the end of an otherwise compelling analysis of last night's Republican presidential debate on TNR's new campaign blog, Noam Scheiber has this to say about Mitt Romney:
There are obvious tactical reasons for Romney to run as a conservative. But sometimes you can't help wishing he'd run more authentically -- as the moderate technocrat he is at heart.
The context is a discussion of McCain, Romney, Thompson and Giuliani's attempts to deal with their embarrassingly non-crazy policy histories. But why should we assume that Romney's moderate record is in any way more representative of his true beliefs (if he has any) than his current support for Conservative orthodoxy? Maybe he saw his middle of the road policies in Massachusetts as the best he could do in a deeply liberal state. Primarily, this points to opportunism, but, if we actually believe, as Scheiber does, that there is in fact some moral belief about the true best government deep in Romney's heart, I have no idea how we are supposed to figure out what that is based on the available information about him.
As a side note, it's interesting that no candidate, except maybe Giuliani has made a "politics is the art of the possible" argument. You'd think it would work better than either the Giuliani/McCain attempt to spin heterodoxy as bold independent thinking or the Thompson/Romney strategy of denying there is any heterodoxy in the first place.
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